Monday, November 18, 2013

Getting Rooted in New Zealand by Jamie Baywood

A few weeks back a beautiful woman named Jamie Baywood contacted me about her book called Getting Rooted in New Zealand. I was so thrilled to read her book and even more excited for the opportunity to interview her after I read it. She sent me a copy and although some family stuff took over my time for a while, when I did get to read her book, I tore through it in one night. Oh my goodness. This girl can write. Also, she is one of the funniest people in the entire world.

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood
Her book is a memoir about her time in New Zealand. Jamie moved to New Zealand on a work visa to escape the dating scene she found herself in and to find some adventure. New Zealand has about 100,000 fewer men in the population than women, perfect for a girl needing a change and needing to avoid creepy men. (Side note, she found the creepiest people in California. Her stories about her past relationships are so phenomenally awkward.) Through her introspection about her past and mulling through her present in New Zealand, Jamie is able to find more of herself and finally get rooted in New Zealand, in more ways than one. (The best part of this book is the double meaning of the word rooted. So. Much. Yes.)

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood.
Look at how stunning she is. Prettiest ever.
She is an amazing writer. Her style is so conversational and open. She's incredibly honest and giving and you sincerely feel that she is a friend of yours telling you about her time living abroad. When she meets crazy men, you laugh and cringe with her. When she has a horrific day at work with her boss who is a one woman tornado, you get mad with her. When she meets a sexy Scottish guy and starts loving on him, you cheer for her. (PS Jamie... I was 10000% serious when I asked if Grant has any single friends. I love Scots. Hook a girl up!)

After finishing her book I sent her a few interview questions that I'd love to share with you. Here is our interview. Enjoy getting to know Jamie Baywood a bit more; I sure did.

Did you know when you moved to New Zealand that you were going to write a book about your experiences?

I consider myself an accidental author. I didn’t go to New Zealand with the intentions of writing a book about my experiences there. I had funny experiences that I had trouble believing were true. I wrote the stories down to stay sane. I wrote situations down that were happening around me and shared them with friends. The stories made people laugh so I decided to organize the stories into a book and publish in the hopes to make others laugh too.

My education is in fine arts, I didn’t write until I moved to New Zealand. I had a lot of art shows in California and New Zealand and even managed an art collective in Auckland. I was bored with the fine art scene. Everything has already been done before in painting, but I am the only person that can tell my own story. Writing feels like a more honest form of art than any other method I’ve tried.

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood
Publishing my book was my way of transforming poison into medicine. I hope that it can help people that have had bad dating experiences or bad work experiences – make them laugh and not give up hope.  I had good, bad and weird experiences in New Zealand and California. My experiences have turned me into a writer and I am extremely grateful for that.  People that read it either seem to think it’s hilarious or horrifying and I respect all points of view.  I hope my book Getting Rooted in New Zealand makes you laugh!

It would be impossible to write down every single thing that happen to me in New Zealand for over a year and it probably wouldn’t be interesting to read. My book is 100% true. These are 100% my experiences. I have changed some the names, but not all of individuals and organizations to preserve privacy. Most of the book was written as the events happened; it just took me a few years to work up the nerve to publish. To write my book Getting Rooted In New Zealand, I relied upon my personal journals, e-mails, and memories. In February 2013, I organized my stories into a cohesive narrative. It went through several rounds of editing and then I published in April.

When did you start writing? What got you started?

I had the opportunity to write and perform for Thomas Sainsbury the most prolific playwright in New Zealand. I performed a monologue about my jobs in the Basement Theatre in Auckland.  The funny thing about that experience was Tom kept me separated from the other performers until it was time to perform. I was under the impression that all the performers were foreigners giving their experiences in New Zealand.  All of the other performers were professional actors telling stories that weren’t their own. At first I was mortified, but the audience seemed to enjoy my “performance,” laughing their way through my monologue. After the shows we would go out and mingle with the audience. People would ask me how long I had been acting. I would tell them, “I wasn’t acting; I have to go to work tomorrow and sit next to the girl wearing her dead dog’s collar around her neck.”

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

I know my experiences in New Zealand are unusual, but to be completely honest it was an improvement from my life in California. Surprisingly, I seem to be getting the best feedback from people living in New Zealand both Kiwis and non-Kiwis.  I have received very kind emails from New Zealanders saying they enjoyed reading my book, they are looking forward to reading the next one and some encourage me to move back to New Zealand.

I love making people laugh more than anything else. I love hearing from readers that my book is making people laugh out loud. The hardest part has been when people don’t understand my humour. I have been in a lot of situations where I had two choices: laugh or cry. I’ve chosen to laugh. I write my experiences from a purely personal standpoint. Compared to other travellers who worked abroad in New Zealand my experiences have been very unusual. I would highly recommend everyone goes to New Zealand to experience their own adventure.

I think readers need to remember this is the dairy of a young, hormonal and confused twenty-something, this is not a travel guide to New Zealand.  I am sincerely appreciative of everyone that has read Getting Rooted in New Zealand. I’m absolutely grateful that readers are enjoying the book and reviewing it positively. I love making people laugh. I hope you enjoy Getting Rooted in New Zealand!

From the very beginning it is clear that you are very dedicated to your Buddhist faith. How did you find that faith and what hooked you to it?

In addition to being an accidental author, I am also an accidental Buddhist. I never planned to become either. I was introduced to the Buddhist practice that involves chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo through a friend. I was very reluctant to go to the Buddhist meeting with him; I thought it would be really weird. Much to my surprise hearing the chanting made me feel at home on a cellular level. I’ve always struggled with anxiety and at times depression, chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo calms me to the core.

Over the next few years, through a lot of chanting, going to Buddhist study meetings and reading books like The Buddha in Your Mirror I really learned to love, value and respect myself. For the first time in my life I felt really happy and the happiness came from within. The thing that I like about Buddhism is it is about taking 100% responsibility for your own life. The word karma translates into action. You can change your karma by changing your actions. Essentially, stop doing the same thing and expecting a different result. For me, needed to overcome my relationship karma by stopping dating guys that I knew were wrong for me.

Five years later I’ve now lived and practiced this Buddhism in five different countries: California, American Samoa, New Zealand, Scotland and now England. The practice is in 192 countries around the world and everywhere I go I have a built in community. Five years ago, I never thought I would get married. I’ve now been married for nearly two years and married the son of a knight in a castle in Scotland. My life has transformed in many ways other than my relationship karma, but I have literally chanted my way from trailer parks to castles.

You mention that New Zealand has one hundred thousand fewer men than women. Coming off of a few heartbreaks myself this idea to go to New Zealand is sounding pretty good to me! Was that the only reason you chose New Zealand?

I know it sounds like a crazy reason, but I needed a serious change in my life and felt I needed to leave the country to do so. I started dating my first boyfriend when we were fourteen and the relationship ended when I was twenty-three.  I had never dumped someone and didn’t have the life skills to do so. Between ages twenty-three and twenty-six, I would only date guys I knew I could dump easily. Not surprisingly, only dating guys with clear and abundant flaws that were easy to dump, created a lot of chaos and drama in my life. 

When I was twenty-four, I had my second boyfriend who I call Hank, in real life his named rhymed with Hank. Hank had a drug dealer that sincerely went by the name Stank. I took Hank to rehab, after that I had a string of crazy suitors and ex’s.  If you had Hank and Stank in your life, what other choice do you have, but to leave the country and become an author? 

By the age of twenty-six, I was actually much happier being alone than dating, but I was completely bombarded by guys trying to date me. I read in a New Zealand tour book that the country’s population has 100,000 fewer men than women.  I wanted to have some me time and an adventure. New Zealand seemed like a good place to do so. 

I found a work abroad company that helped young Americans get work visas in New Zealand and Australia. I had been watching a lot of Flight of the Conchords at the time and enjoyed Bret and Jemaine’s sense of humor and accents.  

(That Flight of the Conchords reference is further proof of how awesome Jamie is. Love this girl.)

I loved the story of the double meaning of the phrase "getting rooted" and after reading what that meant in New Zealand, the title of the book took on an entirely new meaning. Why did you decide to use that as your title?

My title is another way of laughing at myself. One night I was brushing my teeth with my flatmate and I said, “I'm really excited to live in this house because I have been travelling a lot and I just need to settle down, stop travelling and get rooted.” I had meant get rooted in the America way to settle down, lay down roots. He started choking on his toothbrush and asked if I was hitting on him. He explained to me what rooting meant in New Zealand.

I decided on Getting Rooted in New Zealand because it’s funny and the book is about rooting – both meanings of the word.

Do you keep in contact with any of the people you met in New Zealand?

I do keep in touch with most of the people I met in New Zealand. Some of my dearest friends in the world are in New Zealand. Although it is technically not home to me or my Scottish husband, it feels like home to us as a couple because that is where we met. We have been feeling homesick for New Zealand and really miss our friends there. 

Have you been back to visit New Zealand since you left with Grant? (Side note, Grant is this perfect Scottish man she met in New Zealand. Not to spoil the book but... I love love. :) Mostly Scottish love.)

We haven’t been able to go back to New Zealand or anywhere by plane. Although I was married in January 2012 in the UK, my marriage visa was not approved by the UK Border Agency until September 2012. During this time, I was not allowed to work, study, collect benefits or even leave because they had both my passport and my husband’s passport.  

I am currently on a visa in the UK called an Extension to Stay as the Spouse of a UK Citizen. This visa will expire in September 2014. We are deciding now if we should go through another round of visas for me to stay in the UK or if we want to try living somewhere else in the world.  We are seriously considering moving back to New Zealand next year. 

I can only speak from my own experience attempting to settle as a spouse of a UK Citizen.  I have personally found the level of bureaucracy in the UK makes the possible feel impossible.  

This is one the main reasons I decided to go ahead and publish Getting Rooted in New Zealand.  Due to my visa restrictions with the UK Border Agency, I’ve had no rights to work in the UK, but they couldn’t stop me from publishing my book. 

How was the wedding!? How is Grant? How is Scotland? How is your life now?

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood.
Sorry that they are the most attractive
couple in history.
I love being married to him. We got married in a little castle in his home town in Scotland at the beginning of year 2012. My husband wore a kilt. I was hoping for a white winter wedding, but we ended up getting sunshine in Scotland during the winter. It was a magical day; we had a rainbow over a loch, bunny rabbits hoping by us, birds chirping and a full moon reflecting on the loch at night. 

We still can’t understand each other if we aren’t in the same room and there are always new words or Scottish sayings I’m learning.  I hope I never stop swooning over his accent. Being married to a Scottish man is the best. I love the Scottish accent and all the words he uses. I love hearing wee in every sentence. He calls me wee fluffy bunny. I married the sweetest man. He is also incredibly kind, handsome and humble. 

Courtesy of Jamie Baywood.
This. Is. Perfect.
Time to move to New Zealand
to find my Scot.
Grant is very busy working on a MA in Landscape Architecture. This gives me a lot of time to work on promoting my book and attending book talks throughout the UK.For unwanted and complicated reasons we had to move to England last September. It was devastating to have to move out of Edinburgh to Sheffield, England last year for my husband graduate school. We will have to live here until summer 2014. We had more culture shock going from Scotland to England than anywhere else.

Rather than being displaced to a country I didn’t want to move to, I decided to be displaced with the goal of publishing. I’ve just completed a MA in Design. Designing, publishing and marketing my book was my dissertation project. 

I’ve never lived this far inland before. It makes me feel claustrophobic to be so far away from the ocean. I desperately miss the ocean and being warm at the beach. I really miss the warm, friendly nature of the people in the South Pacific. If money and visas weren’t an issue, (which they very much are) I’d love to go summer to summer between Edinburgh, Scotland and Auckland, New Zealand. 

What is your second book going to be about? When can we expect to get our hands on it?

I plan to divide my books by the countries I've lived in. My next book will be about attempting to settle in Scotland. I plan to publish it late 2014.


I would highly recommend this book to all of you! It was such a fun read and I loved getting to know Jamie through her book and through our emails. She's so cool and I cannot wait until her next book release. I want to follow her travels for as long as she writes them. :)

I would also like to thank Jamie for the opportunity to read her book and interview her. This was the best! Thanks again, Jamie!

Getting Rooted in New Zealand is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon:

Jamie Baywood can be followed on the following sites:

Happy reading, lovelies! 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A New Home

Hello beautiful readers of this blog and books alike! The past few months have been pretty crazy here and this blog hasn't been getting much love. I'm sorry about that.

But after a lot of thought I have decided to focus on my other blog, Tightrope to the Sun. On this blog you will find snippets of my writing, some music, what's going on in my life, and yes! still book reviews. I didn't want to neglect either blog and I thought the best way to do that was to combine them into one blog instead of trying to care for both separately. It's like what the perfect Ron Swanson said on Parks and Rec:

"Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing."

Preach, Ron Swanson. Preach. 

I will never stop reading and I love writing about books. But now I have a place where I can combine my book reviews with my usual blog posts. It would mean the world to me if you would stop by that blog and follow me over there. The support of you all as readers has meant so much to me and I'd love for that support to continue. I'd love to see you on my Tightrope to the Sun!

See you over there, lovelies!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Hello lovelies! So I read To Kill a Mockingbird but felt the post would be a bit more at home on my personal blog. Please wander over there to read my post about this amazing book that I read as part of a read-along hosted by Adam of Roof Beam Reader.

You can find my post here!

Thanks for reading :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell

Where my history nerds at? I am a HUGE history buff and my favorite of all favorites would have to be Tudor England. Specifically Anne Boleyn. I have had a huge love affair with Anne Boleyn since I was a little girl and first read a book about her. One book about this amazing woman and I was hooked. I watch all the movies about her that I can, all the TV shows, all the biographies, all the novels. I devour anything I can about her.

Her story never gets old for me and she is definitely my historical hero. Because of my very zealous following of her story and my clear love for her, I have become very picky about how she is portrayed. Almost to a fault picky. I like my Anne to be strong willed and sexy, daring and driven, smart and stubborn. She was devout to her religion and she knew what she wanted. She was injured by the beast that was Henry VIII and unjustly killed. Moral of the story, homegirl is the greatest woman that ever lived. The books I read about her must show her in that light. In my opinion at least. (Which I consider to be awesome. TEAM BOLEYN FOREVER)

I'd been craving some Anne for quite some time when I saw this book peeking out at me.

via Goodreads
This book is about Elizabeth at the start of her reign. She is a young girl of 25, headstrong and proud and ready to finally rule. Her council is urging her to marry so England could finally have a proper ruler in a King. More specifically, a man. One day, an old woman named Lady Sommerville comes to see Elizabeth and tells her that she attended to her mother while she was in the Tower of London awaiting her execution. She reveals a secret diary Anne had kept throughout her courtly life and given to Lady Sommerville on the day of her death to one day give to Elizabeth when she was Queen. 

First lines:

"'God's death!' roared Elizabeth. 'Will you not give me one day's respite from this tiresome pestering? You make my head ache.'
The queen's councillors could hardly keep pace with the extraordinarily tall and slender woman now moving in great strides across Whithall's wide lawn to her waiting mount."

Already liked Elizabeth from the start. She kicks butt.

The book alters between pages from Anne's diary and Elizabeth's life as she becomes more of a Queen and gets to know her mother as well as battles with a love for a childhood friend. Elizabeth finds guidance from her mother's words as well as a new understanding for the woman always portrayed as a great traitor and whore. 

I loved the premise of this book, especially the inclusion of Elizabeth. I've always imagined that Elizabeth would have a fierce love for her mother and defend her, but that's only because I feel that way for Anne. It was very cool to watch her learn more of her mother's life and quest for the crown that would ultimately kill her. It was fascinating to watch Elizabeth go from sort of admiration of her father to disgust at his murder of her mother and madness of his mind. 

I liked watching Elizabeth pull closer to her mother and see the parallels of their worlds connecting. They were both women with power in a man's world. They were women before their time with quick wit and an even quicker tongue. As Lady Sommerville says:

"You have your father's eyes, Elizabeth, but it is your mother's spirit shining through them."
"'I loved your mother,' said Lady Sommerville quite unexpectedly, 'from the first moment I laid eyes on her lonely soul.'"

I loved Anne in this book, which is truly saying a lot from me. She was bright and spunky and very smart. She smelled of spice and had a lilting laugh and I thought she was just lovely. I loved the image of her stealing away during her busy life and writing in her secret diary. It made her feel very real and very vulnerable and isolated from court, which I imagine she was. Even when she was popular in court, she was very alone in her own head, thinking up plots and flirtations and planning the capture of a King. I liked this lonely and melancholic Anne. It made her more strong and more determined to read about her journey in her own stolen words.

She was stylish and sexy at the beginning of her journey starting in 1522 in the diary. Confident and daring, it was no wonder that she would win Henry over.

"I boldly met the French King's eye and held his blatant gaze before dropping the lowest of seductive bows. I arose and knew that all the courtiers were admiring me, caressing me, undressing me."

"I'll have his soul, be that assured. When? How? I cannot know. But Anne Boleyn shall have her day."

"I thought then, Yes, be elusive as the wind and he will seek but never hold me."

GOOD LORD I love Anne Boleyn. She makes me feel sexy and powerful and Robin Maxwell has written an amazing Anne. 

As the years passed on and I began counting the years to her death the transition to scared and defiant felt real. Reading her own words made it very personal and made my heart hurt for this abandoned woman. 

"For all my taunting words and clever teasing I swear I feel no winner, but just a girl in deep water closing o'er my head."

"For men love that which they cannot have, and hate that which they cannot control, I was both to Henry."

Anne grew and the writing changed. She became older with her words and she had learned her lesson about playing with fire. The transition was written beautifully.

The mixing in of Elizabeth's world with Anne's was done very well but I found myself wishing for more Anne. The diary entries jumped years and months, which I understand completely but I do feel the book could have been longer. I felt like we didn't get enough time with the courtship phase of Henry and Anne. I wanted to see him fall more and hear more about how she managed to keep his advances at bay for six long years before finally giving herself to him. More time in the middle entries were spent discussing affairs of state. While those are important, I wanted her personal diary to be filled with personal stories about secret kisses and a Henry before the fat disgusting King I love to hate. I wanted to see them fall for each other and that didn't happen much here. 

Besides that one missing piece, I really enjoyed this book a lot. It pulled at my heartstrings and I loved the mother/daughter relationship. I loved the Anne written in this book almost as much as I love my favorite Anne from The Tudors on Showtime. (Natalie Dormer, am I right? She's unreal and perfect. Get her out of here.) If you are a lover of Tudor England or Anne Boleyn, I think you would really enjoy this book. 4/5 stars. 

Unreal. via fanpop
Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comment below; I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I love historical novels and I especially love World War 2. I was so excited to pick up a copy of this book. Plus. LOOK at this cover!

I also love books that I'm told will make me cry, pretty safe bet with World War 2 books. I've heard a lot about this book this year and I was thrilled to finally pick up a copy at my bookstore. 

This book is about a girl code named "Verity" who parachutes in to Nazi-occupied France during 1943. After making one small error, she is captured by the Gestapo and taken in for questioning. She is offered one choice: tell them the mission she has been give or face execution, an execution that won't be quick or painless. 

The girl who flew her into France is Maddie, her best friend and a female pilot. To reveal the information the Nazi officers want from her, she writes a narrative of the events leading up to her landing, told from the perspective of Maddie. 

Throughout the novel, Verity writes about what happens to her in her prison inside a hotel converted into a Gestapo headquarters as well as the events leading up to her landing. The sharing of both stories made for an interesting and intricate read. 

I was so ready to love this book. I was ready to cry hysterically and be unable to sleep at night because I was up reading. This was not my experience. This book took me so long to read and it was a struggle for me to keep my attention on what was happening. There were so many terms I didn't understand and the majority of the book was made up of planes and mechanical jargon that went right over my head. It made it hard to follow the main points of the story and to watch the friendship between the two girls blossom. I wanted a more intimate look at who these girls were and what this friendship was, but instead it was all military talk with the occasional peak into the minds of the girls. 

From the brief moments the girls got to talk, I loved them. The characters in this book were complex and beautiful. I loved hearing their voices. 

First lines, courtesy of Verity:


I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending I spent the first twelve years of my life playing at the Battle of Stirling Bridge with my five big brothers- and even though I am a girl, they let me be William Wallace, who is supposed to be one of our ancestors, because I did the most rousing battle speeches. God, I tried hard last week. My God, I tried. But now I know I am a coward. After the ridiculous deal I made with SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer von Linden, I know I am a coward. And I'm going to give you anything you ask, everything I can remember. Absolutely Every Last Detail."

Verity was strong and determined and I loved her. Maddie was so strong too, but had a quiet strength that was so different from Verity. I loved the little tender moments we got to spend with them, sharing their fears, snuggling in bed after a hard day at work, moments before Verity has to land in France. I wish the novel focused less on the nitty gritty details of how to fly a plane and types of engine and more on these two. 

The ending though was quite amazing! It had a twist that I did not see coming and while I didn't cry, it shook me and definitely made an impact on my mind. The end is how the whole book should have been- deep and electric and moving. 

All in all I would give this book 2 stars out of 5. I liked the characters and I liked where the plot wanted to go, but sadly it read a little bit like a military pilot textbook. I realize it sort of had to be that way since Verity was revealing secrets as she was telling the story, I just feel that more narrative could have been put in to move the plot along faster. 

Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Austen in August

Hello everyone! So here is my announcement. I will be participating in Austen in August hosted by Roof Beam Reader

The goal is to read as many Austen or Austen related works as possible in the month of August. So you can read the classics or something different like Austenland by Shannon Hale (a personal favorite!) The point, read Austen! Love Austen! Live Austen! Love Mr. Darcy... mmmmmmm.

So good. So. Good. 

If you would also like to sign up to participate, go to the Austen post found here by leaving a comment on the original post. There's gonna be prizes given away and chatting on twitter using #AustenInAugustRBR

Make sure if you participate you get a button and put it somewhere on your blog to help spread the word about this awesome event! 

Button button whose got the button

Austen is perfect for the winding down of summer. It's such a romantic time. I can't wait!  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

For my June classic, I wanted a short story that packed a lot of punch. That's how I feel about June; it's a light, breezy month that always seems to pack a lot of surprise power. 

I chose the most perfect June read. 

First lines:

"We didn't always live on Mango Street. Before that we lived on Loomis on the third floor, and before that we lived on Keeler. Before Keeler it was Paulina, and before that I can't reemmber. But what I remember most is moving a lot. Each time it seemed there'd be one more of us. By the time we got to Mango Street we were six- Mama, Papa, Carlos, Kiki, my sister Nenny and me.

The house on Mango Street is ours, and we don't have to pay rent to anybody, or share the yard with the people downstairs, or be careful not to make too much noise, and there isn't a landlord banging on the ceiling with a broom. But even so, it's not the house we'd thought we'd get."

This book is about Esperanza Cordero, a young girl trying to find her place in the world while growing up in her house on Mango Street. The story is told in a series of vignettes, none longer than about six pages. Through these seemingly simple stories, you truly get to know Esperanza through her words and the haunting visuals that take root in your mind.

This was quite honestly some of the most beautiful writing I have ever had the privilege of reading. The entire book reads like an epic poem, the most epic story that could ever be told. A story that every person alive shares: the journey of growing up and becoming who you are. It's the story of what shapes all of us, which is where we grow up. Those people, those places, those rooms, those halls. They stay with us like this book will stay with me. 

Cisneros has some of the most beautiful turns of phrase. She made me see things in a different way and she made this book so alive and so beautiful. Her mind must be so vivid and lovely; I'd like to live in her mind and surround myself with her words and ideas. She just made the whole world new for me. 

Like in this section, Esperanza is talking about having to be friends with her baby sister out of sisterly duty although she wants her own best friend. She says of her situation:

"Until then I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor."

I just. I just... I can't with this book. 

Like when she describes going through puberty. Specifically, getting hips.

"One day you wake up and they are there. Ready and waiting like a new Buick with the keys in the ignition. Ready to take you where?

They bloom like roses..."

Speaking from first hand experience here... this is 100% what happens when you get hips. You wake up and BAM. Suddenly you sway when you walk and suddenly boys are watching you. Oh puberty, you testy mistress. 

Although this is an incredibly short book and the vignettes so small, I felt incredibly connected to Esperanza and each character she introduced me to. You watch her grow through these stories and you can sense her growth with the words. The stories change from not wanting to play with her sister, to going through puberty, to longing for kisses, to longing for a future away from a past she is anchored to. Her story is my story. Her story is your story. There is a reason this book is so prolific although it is a new arrival into the classic canon. Everyone can relate to the fear and desire to grow up, and how hand in hand those two emotions are. 

I chose to read this book at a very interesting time. I'm preparing for a few huge life events. I'm finishing school, getting a real people job, moving into the city. Like Esperanza I've spent my whole life pushing myself forward, wanting to leave my past and the house I never wanted for the house I dreamed of and the autonomy I've longed for. But now that my time has come, I'm nervous and thrilled at the same time. 

This story was an amazing reminder as to how connected we are to our roots. No matter how much we try and fight where we are from, it's ingrained into our souls and imprinted on our hearts. 

This book made me want to write and I was inspired the entire time I read it. I finished the book and immediately wanted to read it again and relish those words once more. This book was a huge comfort to me too during this crazy times in my life. Especially the last lines.

"One day I will pack my bags of books and paper. One day I wills ay goodbye to Mango. I am too strong for her to keep me here forever. One day I will go away. 

Friends and neighbors will say, What happened to that Esperanza? Where did she go with all those books and paper? Why did she march so far away?

They will not know I have gone away to come back. For the ones I left behind. For the ones who cannot out."

I too must now pack up my bags of books and paper and get ready for the rest of my life. But as of now, at this moment, I very much enjoyed my brief stay on Mango Street with Esperanza. Please please please take a visit there yourself. You'll love your time there.