Madwomen in the Attic Featured Writer

This month I am the featured writer for Madwomen in the Attic, a grassroots feminist mental health and madness literacy and advocacy organization that aims to provide support for women and queer-identified or non-binary people who have been affected or harmed by the mental health industry or the stigma attached to mental illness.

Check out my poetry and thoughts on writing and mental health here.

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Pride Book Reviews: She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya

I don’t quite know how to write a post about   She of the Mountains .  Really, I think I might like this book too much and be too emotional about it to write a good review! So apologies in advance for being extra rambly…   She of the Mountains  is the best book I read this year. It might be one of the best books I’ve ever read. This book made me cry three times on the green line T and I  never  cry in public. When I finished reading it I started again immediately. It might live on my nightstand forever. Reading this book was difficult but felt like an act of self care.  To be fair, I  do  really love poetic novels. One of my other all-time favorites is  The Autobiography of Red  by Anne Carson. Both Carson and Shraya’s novels weave together myth, sexuality, and self in a way that feels (to me) almost perfect. Both deliver concrete, fresh imagery and mesmerizing lyrical prose.   She of the Mountains  comprises two stories: the Hindu myth of Parvati (the goddess of love and fertility) and Shiv (the god of destruction), and a contemporary coming of age love story. The unnamed protagonist, a queer Indian boy living in Canada, is taunted at school and made to feel uncomfortable with his sexuality and body. As he works to fit himself into a narrowly defined mold of what it means to be gay and perform the identity that his classmates and his city’s small gay community have assigned to him, he falls deeply in love with a woman. The rest of the novel charts their love and the complexities of sharing a queer life.  Shraya discusses race, gender, queer gatekeeping, sexuality, and how messy and hard it can be to exist in our own bodies with stunning truth and complexity. The intimate, precise way Shraya writes about love made me feel like I knew and loved both of the characters in the contemporary love story. And the mythological love between Parvati, Shiv, and their son Ganesha was equally powerful. Honestly, reading this book reminded me of a little bit of the first time I read  Hunger  by Roxane Gay. I had that same sense of  damn, how did they do that  and  wow, this is really honest writing.    She of the Mountains  is heartbreaking and beautiful and a pleasure to read. Also, the book’s design and illustrations by Raymond Biesinger are gorgeous. This will be the book I buy for friends because I want everyone to read it but I will never want to part with my own copy.   Read this book—I don’t think you’ll regret it.

I don’t quite know how to write a post about She of the Mountains. Really, I think I might like this book too much and be too emotional about it to write a good review! So apologies in advance for being extra rambly…

She of the Mountains is the best book I read this year. It might be one of the best books I’ve ever read. This book made me cry three times on the green line T and I never cry in public. When I finished reading it I started again immediately. It might live on my nightstand forever. Reading this book was difficult but felt like an act of self care.

To be fair, I do really love poetic novels. One of my other all-time favorites is The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson. Both Carson and Shraya’s novels weave together myth, sexuality, and self in a way that feels (to me) almost perfect. Both deliver concrete, fresh imagery and mesmerizing lyrical prose.

She of the Mountains comprises two stories: the Hindu myth of Parvati (the goddess of love and fertility) and Shiv (the god of destruction), and a contemporary coming of age love story. The unnamed protagonist, a queer Indian boy living in Canada, is taunted at school and made to feel uncomfortable with his sexuality and body. As he works to fit himself into a narrowly defined mold of what it means to be gay and perform the identity that his classmates and his city’s small gay community have assigned to him, he falls deeply in love with a woman. The rest of the novel charts their love and the complexities of sharing a queer life.

Shraya discusses race, gender, queer gatekeeping, sexuality, and how messy and hard it can be to exist in our own bodies with stunning truth and complexity. The intimate, precise way Shraya writes about love made me feel like I knew and loved both of the characters in the contemporary love story. And the mythological love between Parvati, Shiv, and their son Ganesha was equally powerful. Honestly, reading this book reminded me of a little bit of the first time I read Hunger by Roxane Gay. I had that same sense of damn, how did they do that and wow, this is really honest writing.

She of the Mountains is heartbreaking and beautiful and a pleasure to read. Also, the book’s design and illustrations by Raymond Biesinger are gorgeous. This will be the book I buy for friends because I want everyone to read it but I will never want to part with my own copy. 

Read this book—I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Pride Book Reviews: Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Hi friends! In honor of Pride and because I have three weeks off before my summer job starts, I thought it might be fun to blog about some of the LGBTQ+ books I’m reading. These posts will be more rambling thoughts than legit reviews because I don’t really have any consistent evaluative criteria and I really only want to talk about books I love!  So, first up…  Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon.     Treasure  is a sweet, contemporary lesbian romance about Alexis, an anxious and adorable soft-butch from a well-to-do black family, and Trisha, a warm and pulled-together stripper working on her undergrad degree. The two women meet and share a sexy moment when Alexis comes to Trisha’s club for a bachelorette party. Alexis is surprised and delighted to reconnect with the beautiful stripper when she discovers they are in the same computer science class.  I absolutely adored this book. Like, ignored folding my laundry and doing all my Sunday chores because I couldn’t stop reading, loved it. Rebekah Weatherspoon is a new-to-me author, but once my bank account recovers from my recent book-buying spree, I plan to read much more from her.  The characters in this novella were so concrete and relatable from the start. I loved Trisha and Alexis so much. I related to Alexis in particular, her anxiety, self-doubt, and difficulty navigating her gender presentation. I loved the subtle way Weatherspoon highlighted the tension between Alexis’s family expectations and her own way of being in the world. Sometimes Alexis dresses femme and preppy, other times she’s all T-shirts and denim. One section about Alexis’s difficulty getting dressed was so relatable for me that reading it felt like a gut-punch (in the best way.) Alexis looks at the clothes in her closet, dresses her mother bought and the menswear she knows her father will scoff at, and wonders, “how do you get people to see that some days you just don’t feel right in your own skin?” I read the paragraph about four times over with my breath held because it felt like Alexis’s thoughts had been plucked from my own brain.    And Trisha! She was one of those characters you read and wish you could become real-life friends with. She’s smart and kind and funny. She’s gentle and supportive around Alexis’s mental health issues and never pushes. Trisha is just…real. And I loved seeing a complex, totally positive representation of a sex worker in a romance novel. There’s no drama over her work as Treasure, a stripper at an all-nude club. She loves working as a stripper and she does great in her computer science classes. (Sidenote: I enjoyed the dynamic between the women and their computer science professor. He’s supportive of them in a way that made me smile when I read it.) Trisha has dreams for her future career but isn’t trying to “escape” the club. Her relationship with her mother is complicated but positive. I could probably write far too many words about how much I adored these two characters!  The relationship between Trisha and Alexis is complex and progresses in such an authentic way. The women really seem to bring out the best in each other. I especially loved their text exchanges throughout the book because they did a lot of work to develop their relationship and they were cute as hell. The sex scenes were hot and realistic and I loved seeing the women explore and discuss what they want and like together.  Honestly, I liked this book so much I was kind of bummed when it ended. Weatherspoon did so much in a fairly short novella. The ending was satisfying and the character arcs were well-done. But, selfishly, I wanted more!  I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for adorably real characters, positive sex-work rep, and a really immersive and enjoyable reading experience.

Hi friends! In honor of Pride and because I have three weeks off before my summer job starts, I thought it might be fun to blog about some of the LGBTQ+ books I’m reading. These posts will be more rambling thoughts than legit reviews because I don’t really have any consistent evaluative criteria and I really only want to talk about books I love!

So, first up…Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon.

Treasure is a sweet, contemporary lesbian romance about Alexis, an anxious and adorable soft-butch from a well-to-do black family, and Trisha, a warm and pulled-together stripper working on her undergrad degree. The two women meet and share a sexy moment when Alexis comes to Trisha’s club for a bachelorette party. Alexis is surprised and delighted to reconnect with the beautiful stripper when she discovers they are in the same computer science class.

I absolutely adored this book. Like, ignored folding my laundry and doing all my Sunday chores because I couldn’t stop reading, loved it. Rebekah Weatherspoon is a new-to-me author, but once my bank account recovers from my recent book-buying spree, I plan to read much more from her.

The characters in this novella were so concrete and relatable from the start. I loved Trisha and Alexis so much. I related to Alexis in particular, her anxiety, self-doubt, and difficulty navigating her gender presentation. I loved the subtle way Weatherspoon highlighted the tension between Alexis’s family expectations and her own way of being in the world. Sometimes Alexis dresses femme and preppy, other times she’s all T-shirts and denim. One section about Alexis’s difficulty getting dressed was so relatable for me that reading it felt like a gut-punch (in the best way.) Alexis looks at the clothes in her closet, dresses her mother bought and the menswear she knows her father will scoff at, and wonders, “how do you get people to see that some days you just don’t feel right in your own skin?” I read the paragraph about four times over with my breath held because it felt like Alexis’s thoughts had been plucked from my own brain.  

And Trisha! She was one of those characters you read and wish you could become real-life friends with. She’s smart and kind and funny. She’s gentle and supportive around Alexis’s mental health issues and never pushes. Trisha is just…real. And I loved seeing a complex, totally positive representation of a sex worker in a romance novel. There’s no drama over her work as Treasure, a stripper at an all-nude club. She loves working as a stripper and she does great in her computer science classes. (Sidenote: I enjoyed the dynamic between the women and their computer science professor. He’s supportive of them in a way that made me smile when I read it.) Trisha has dreams for her future career but isn’t trying to “escape” the club. Her relationship with her mother is complicated but positive. I could probably write far too many words about how much I adored these two characters!

The relationship between Trisha and Alexis is complex and progresses in such an authentic way. The women really seem to bring out the best in each other. I especially loved their text exchanges throughout the book because they did a lot of work to develop their relationship and they were cute as hell. The sex scenes were hot and realistic and I loved seeing the women explore and discuss what they want and like together.

Honestly, I liked this book so much I was kind of bummed when it ended. Weatherspoon did so much in a fairly short novella. The ending was satisfying and the character arcs were well-done. But, selfishly, I wanted more!

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for adorably real characters, positive sex-work rep, and a really immersive and enjoyable reading experience.