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Staff Picks Category: Trauma

The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos []



Author of The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary, NoNeiqa Ramos’ second book, The Truth Is, explores LGBTQ+ identities, teenage homelessness, grief and trauma through the eyes of Verdad, a fifteen-year-old Puerto Rican queer kid who is just trying to get by.

After losing her best friend to gun violence, Verdad is not okay. And by the end of the book, she is still not okay. That’s what is so amazing about this novel. There are no easy outs or tidy endings. It demonstrates how messy (and joyful) life can be, especially for those with underrepresented and marginalized identities. Verdad’s friends have diverse races, genders and sexualities, and they are all fully developed characters with charms and flaws just like the next person. Their identities are pieces of who they are, but they aren’t all of who they are. Even as an adult I felt so much joy and recognition in these pages. If you’re looking for a YA book to read this spring, pick this up! You won’t regret it.


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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay []



Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body is startling. It is moving and important. It is hard to read and hard to put down.

In this memoir of her body Gay puts into words so much that would generally be left unsaid. Gay’s writing is clear and concise. It does not shy from the contradictions in life. It is both restrained and emotional. It is devastating. Gay tells us about her life. She was raped at the age of twelve. She is fat. She is scared. She is complex, intelligent, insightful, compassionate, and a brilliant writer. She lives a privileged life and recognizes her privilege. She is the subjected to great prejudice and discrimination. In Hunger she shares truths that must be incredibly difficult to share and she does so very well.

Gay’s book tells us much about her life, but it also tells us much about our culture, our country, our attitudes. We are not kind to fat bodies. We are not kind to women’s bodies. We are not kind to black bodies. We are not kind to ourselves. You probably already know this, but Gay’s book will still open your eyes. Her perspective is probably not one you have heard before.

On the back of the dust jacket Ann Patchett tells us why this book is important and I cannot improve on what she says. She writes:

“It turns out that when a wrenching past is confronted with wisdom and bravery, the outcome can be compassion and enlightenment—both for the reader who has lived through this kind of unimaginable pain and for the reader who knows nothing of it. Roxane Gay shows us how to be decent to ourselves and decent to one another. Hunger is an amazing achievement in more ways than I can count.”

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