My across-the-street neighbor let me borrow her copy! I’ve wanted to read this book for years. I’d heard the news reports and articles about Henrietta and her family’s fight over her cells. But this book went so in depth. I’m glad I read it.
I learned that Henrietta and her family had roots in Clover, Virginia, which is very close to where my in-laws currently live! What a small world!
If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend you do so. It’s a “typical” non-fiction book, where it can be dry and a bit boring, but author Rebecca Skloot successfully mixes science and Henrietta’s life. I learned so much about Henrietta, her family, and how the scientific community betrayed them all. And her story is not an isolated one, either. It’s an impressive book about the debate on medical ethics, along with our rights regarding our bodies, tissues, cells, and body parts.
After reading Evette’s book, I quickly moved to Makena’s book in the World By Us collection from American Girl.
Makena loves fashion, and posts her #OOTD (outfit of the day). I love how expressive she is!
Similar to Evette’s story, racism is a major theme in Makena’s story. Despite Makena’s struggles to come to terms with not one, but two incidents in her young life, I applaud American Girl for addressing both incidents in a thoughtful way. It definitely educated me.
It also encourages open communication between family members, and how talking about your feelings with someone that you can trust is so important.
Reading Makena’s story was another eye-opener for me, as a white woman, to how one phone call or one remark could very easily put someone else’s life at risk in an instant.
I’m always up for new books from American Girl. When they announced the new World By Us line with three books, I was excited. I was able to get the books practically brand-new from a seller in the big American Girl Obsessed BST group that I’m a member of on Facebook.
The first book that I read is Evette’s book. She’s passionate about the environment. The book also addresses the pandemic, social media, and other real-life issues. Racism is one big topic that’s incorporated. I also love the community center that’s featured!
I read through the whole book in one night several months ago. Most American Girl books don’t take me long to read at all, but this one was also beautifully illustrated!
The interesting part about these books, and this line/collection, is that the characters are 13 years old, which is older than the typical target demographic for the company. I personally think this is a great thing, and it shows that American Girl is dedicated to diversity, inclusion, education, and other things.
Given that the target audience is quite a bit younger than myself, I had to put myself in the shoes of a 13-year-old while reading it.
I really appreciated how the author and the diversity team that is recognized in the book did their homework and tried to respectfully and carefully craft a story that was relevant and would potentially resonate with readers, families, and others.
I met the author, C.M. Bethell, in a Facebook group for writers. She made a post that she was looking for readers, and I commented with interest. She messaged me, I gave her my address, and her first two books arrived on my doorstep very quickly a few months ago.
Thank you, C.M., for sending the books my way.
It took me a lot longer than anticipated to get into this book. I’m not a massive fantasy fan, never have been. However, once I got into Bethell’s first book, I started to appreciate it better. She’s a good world builder. I love the concept of the Guardians and how they are sworn to protect. And putting them on a modern Earth was cool to see.
The incorporation of Gaelic is interesting, and great for world building. But it’s not my favorite thing. It really threw me in the beginning, and it was hard to follow throughout the book. It was almost distracting.
I liked the portal concept and traveling between two worlds plot point immediately.
I also really liked, and was surprised by, the super slow burn romance between two of the characters. I wasn’t expecting that. It was surprising and refreshing. This was the biggest plot point that held my interest and moved the book along for me.
The one thing that really slowed me down was I felt like I was reading several different books in this one book/arc. It was hard to keep up with the menagerie of characters, although from the title and blurb, it’s made clear that Devon is the main character. Or is he really?
Also, this first book is well over 400 pages. In one way, that’s impressive that this author wrote an almost 450-page book for the first one in a series. However, it also has a lot of drawbacks. I felt like this book was a freaking marathon and the finish line kept moving farther away. I kept putting it down and coming back to it days later, not wanting to or excited to power through it.
It’s almost too much detail, too much story, and it was exhausting sometimes to reach the end of one chapter. There are some chapters that are great and invigorating, and others are really boring and a slog to get through.
I wanted to give this book more stars in terms of a rating, but I just can’t do it. I found myself enjoying the book less and less over time. There are chapters and moments that shine through, but as a whole it’s really long and a bit confusing. I think this one book could have easily been split into two full books as part of the series.
Despite my issues with the first book, I’m going to read and review the second book in the series. I hope to have that review posted here on the blog soon.
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