Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

Image Description: the book-cover Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher. In the background is a light-pattern that resembles the Aurora borealis, in the foreground is a plastic doll of Princess Leia with the palms of her hands covering her eyes.
Imsge Description: the book-cover Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher. In the background is a light-pattern that resembles the Aurora borealis, in the foreground is a plastic doll of Princess Leia with the palms of her hands covering her eyes.
Title: Shockaholic
Author: Carrie Fisher
Social Media: Twitter and Goodreads
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Format and Price: Ebook at $11.99
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Book:
Bad news… for anyone who thought Carrie Fisher had finally stopped talking about herself. This time, the electro-convulsive shock therapy she’s been undergoing is threatening to wipe out (what’s left of) her memory. But get ready for a shock of your own. Not only doesn’t she mind paying the second electric bill, she loves the high-voltage treatments. It’s been a roller coaster of a few years for Carrie since her Tony- and Emmy-nominated, one-woman Broadway show and New York Times bestselling book Wishful Drinking. She not only lost her beloved father, but also her once-upon-a-very-brief-time stepmother, Elizabeth Taylor, as well as over forty pounds of unwanted flesh, all the while staying sober and sane-ish. And she wants to tell you, dear reader, all about it. She wants you to someday be able to remind her how Elizabeth Taylor settles a score, how she and Michael Jackson became friends, or how she ended up sparring with Ted Kennedy on a dinner date. And she especially wants to preserve her memories of Eddie Fisher. Shockaholic is laugh-out-loud funny, acerbic, and witty as hell. But it also reveals a new side of Carrie Fisher that may even bring a pleasant shock your way: it is contemplative, vulnerable, and ultimately, quite tender.

General Observations:
~Diverse Books 2017: Alongside Wishful Drinking, I’m nominating this book for the “Main character with an Invisible Disability” category. In this memoir, Carrie Fisher talks about her struggles with addiction, which is connected to her adult-diagnosis of Bi-polar. It was comforting to read about Carrie Fisher’s struggles because, in a way, they were familiar and foreign at at the same time. We need more people like Carrie Fisher in the world, more people who are willing and able to talk about their struggles with mental health because the more we talk about our struggles, the more accessible they become, and gradually our collective stories will destroy the stigma of mental health.

~Expansion Pack: Wishful Drinking kind of gives a basic overview of things, Shockaholic goes into more details on some of the significant events in Carrie Fisher’s life, like waking up next to her white-republican-gay-friend and the sequential drug-addiction problems and, unfortunately, when it comes to addiction, sometimes you have to get to really bad place before you realise something needs to change. Fortunately Carrie Fisher was able to get the help she needed and it eventually lead her to pursue Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and hence the name of the title. Carrie Fisher also uses her book to dispel some of the myths surrounding Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), acknowledging her own previous bias towards it, but she also talks about some of the side-effects as well, such as problems with short term memory.

~Right In The Feels: Her chapters that feature her friendship with Michael Jackson and her relationship with her previous step-mother Elizabeth Taylor were amusing, interesting and insightful, however, it was the chapters that focused on her relationship with her father Eddie Fisher (who she cared for in his later years until he died) was the one that had me tearing up. It was bitter-sweet that Carrie and Eddie were able to reconnect and have the relationship Carrie always wanted with her father later in life. There’s an especially touching moment in the book when Carrie starts talking about how she has a recording of her father singing preserved in her phone, that way she’ll always be able to remember.

In conclusion, just go read it, it’s highly entertaining and you’ll whizz straight through it (I certainly did).

Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. there is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book
Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. there is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Image Description: the book-cover of Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
Title: Wishful Drinking
Author: Carrie Fisher
Social Media: Twitter and Goodreads
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Format and Price: Ebook at $13.99
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Author:
Carrie Frances Fisher (1956 – 2016) was an American actress, screenwriter and novelist, most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy.

About The Book:
In Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher tells the true and intoxicating story of her life with inimitable wit. Born to celebrity parents, she was picked to play a princess in a little movie called Star Wars when only 19 years old. “But it isn’t all sweetness and light sabres.” Alas, aside from a demanding career and her role as a single mother (not to mention the hyperspace hairdo), Carrie also spends her free time battling addiction, weathering the wild ride of manic depression and lounging around various mental institutions. It’s an incredible tale – from having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother, to marrying (and divorcing) Paul Simon, from having the father of her daughter leave her for a man, to ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.

General Observations:
~Diverse Books 2017: I’m nominating this book for the “Main character with an Invisable Disability” category. In this memoir, Carrie Fisher talks about her struggles with addiction, which is connected to her adult-diagnosis of Bi-polar. It was comforting to read about Carrie Fisher’s struggles because, in a way, they were familiar and foreign at at the same time. We need more people like Carrie Fisher in the world, more people who are willing and able to talk about their struggles with mental health because the more we talk about our struggles, the more accessible they become, and gradually our collective stories will destroy the stigma of mental health.

~Short and Sweet: The paperback and the ebook version are only 176 pages, I found myself consuming this book rather quickly, which should say something as I’ve been in a reading slump recently and have seriously struggled with motivation to read. I consider Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic to be parts 1 and 2 respectively, they’re both short books (both are 176 pages, which is about the same size as a standard manga volume), and if you liked part 1 but don’t want to continue, that’s okay. But if you want more details on some of the events and experiences that Carrie Fisher brings up in Wishful Drinking, you can continue with Shocaholic, it’s entirely up to you.

~Make ‘Em Laugh: Carrie Fisher had such an amazing sense of humor, I love and truly admire how she could take such pain and misery, and turn it into something worth laughing about.

All in all, it’s a great short read about struggling with mental health and addiction and I think the world can never have too many books like this.

Image Description: an illustrated picture of Carrie Fisher as General Organa (from The Force Awakens) standing on the deck of a space-ship with the cosmos and various planets and galactic-bodies in the background. In the corner of the picture is plain black text that reads
Image Description: an illustrated picture of Carrie Fisher as General Organa (from The Force Awakens) standing on the deck of a space-ship with the cosmos and various planets and galactic-bodies in the background. In the corner of the picture is plain black text that reads “drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. Carrie Fisher, 1956 – 2016”.

Available for purchase at: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. there is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book
Image Description: A pink and purple coloured button with the text ‘Read Diverse Books 2017’ in white text with the word ‘Diverse’ written in rainbow coloured text. there is also the white outline of a clip-art picture of a laid open book

Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose

Image Description: book cover of Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose
Title: Reading Like A Writer
Author: Francine Prose
Social Media: Facebook and Goodreads
Publisher: Union Books
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Supplied by Collins Booksellers – Bacchus Marsh

About The Author:
Francine Prose (born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American novelist. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1968, and received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1991. She has sat on the board of judges for the PEN/Newman’s Own Award, and her novel Blue Angel, a satire about sexual harassment on college campuses, was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is now teaching at Bard College.

About The Book:
In her entertaining and edifying New York Times bestseller, acclaimed author Francine Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters to discover why their work has endured. Written with passion, humor, and wisdom, Reading Like a Writer will inspire readers to return to literature with a fresh eye and an eager heart – to take pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of Philip Roth and the breathtaking paragraphs of Isaac Babel; she is deeply moved by the brilliant characterization in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. She looks to John Le Carré for a lesson in how to advance plot through dialogue and to Flannery O’Connor for the cunning use of the telling detail. And, most important, Prose cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which all literature is crafted

General Observations:
~Academic: This is a great academic reference for people studying writing or doing literature studies at University, I definitely recommend it on those grounds. Unfortunately, the fact that it’s an academic resource did make for dry reading, I honestly think it’s difficult to make a subject like this interesting, so this could just be a problem with myself (especially since I’m easily distracted).

~How Long Is A Piece of String?: There are some literary ideas that translate well into short-stories or short essays, but don’t translate well into an entire novel, a short-story is easy to read and justify but a novel is a commitment of time and effort. I can’t help but feel that the author made their main point within the first few chapters and that this was better off being a long essay than an entire novel. The novel doesn’t appear to have an easily traceable thread to follow, when I read this novel, I couldn’t tell how the books interconnected together (apart from being considered University level-readings or books considered classics) into an overall theme or arch.

In conclusion, a good acedemic reference that was a little too dry and aimless for my interests, however, I would still be happy to recommend it to others interested in this field of study.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy
Title: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
Author: Jenny Lawson
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Picador, Imprint of Pan Macmillan UK
Format and Price: E-Book at $11.99
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Author:
Known for her sardonic wit and her hysterically skewed outlook on life, Jenny Lawson has made millions of people question their own sanity, as they found themselves admitting that they, too, often wondered why Jesus wasn’t classified as a zombie, or laughed to the point of bladder failure when she accidentally forgot that she mailed herself a cobra. Her blog is award-winning and extremely popular.

About The Book:
In LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”

“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”

Jenny’s first book, LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

General Observations:

~Late To The Party: Furiously Happy and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened are both best-selling books (as well they should be, Jenny Lawson is hilarious and brilliant) but it is difficult to review a book that everybody’s already read and enjoyed. In fact one of my major problems with writing this review is that I think this novel is so perfect there isn’t much that I can say. However, as per usual, I’ve decided to work backwards instead of forwards, so I didn’t figure out the how’s and why’s of Jenny Lawson’s family interest in taxidermy straight away (I’m not the most observant) however Furiously Happy, while it may have a slight connection to Let’s Pretend This Didn’t Happen, can be read as a standalone book and it makes perfect sense, very much the same way of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling can be read separately but are better off being read together.

~Representation Matters: Jenny Lawson isn’t just writing openly and honestly about her struggles with Mental Illness like Depression, Suicide idealization and Anxiety (General and Social), she’s also a person with ADD and Rheumatoid Arthritis (two painful and invisible disabilities). It’s an amazing feeling to read this book and realise that despite the internal and external obstacles that Jenny Lawson faces, Jenny Lawson continues to keep going (though some days are harder than others), she has a successful writing career, she’s been married to a man who clearly loves and adores her and she has a loving and supportive family. The world needs positive examples like this more often. I get the same feeling reading this book that I got from You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day, this is the kind of book I needed in Secondary College whilst dealing with depression, in fact I would recommend anyone and everyone (regardless of whether or not they’ve had a direct or indirect encounter with Mental Illness) to read this book. It explains the problems with Depression so well and so clearly it was almost painful. There were so many relatable “Me too! Me too!” moments through out this book, but my favourite chapters would have to be the chapter where Jenny and Victor travel to Japan and the chapter where she and a girlfriend travel to Australia.

In conclusion, just go read it, it’s brilliant and hilariously funny and I cannot do it justice or give it enough praise.

Links:
~All Fur Coat And RA: Writer, blogger, spoonie with Rheumatoid Arthritis discussing personal experiences and societal attitudes to chronic illness and hidden disability

~5 Realities Of Having The Government Ban Medication You Need By J.F. Sargent and Lauren Ipsum

~5 Things Only Adults With ADHD Will Understand by Karen Ann Kennedy

~Falling through the cracks: one ADHD girl’s story

Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun

Did She Kill Him by Kate Colquhoun
Title: Did She Kill Him?: A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery, and Arsenic
Author: Kate Colquhoun
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Supplied by Collins Booksellers – Bacchus Marsh

About The Author:
Kate Colquhoun was born in Ireland in 1964. She is married to literary agent David Miller and lives in west London. They have two sons.

About The Book:
In the summer of 1889, young Southern belle Florence Maybrick stood trial for the alleged arsenic poisoning of her much older husband, Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick.

‘The Maybrick Mystery’ had all the makings of a sensation: a pretty, flirtatious young girl; resentful, gossiping servants; rumours of gambling and debt; and torrid mutual infidelity. The case cracked the varnish of Victorian respectability, shocking and exciting the public in equal measure as they clambered to read the latest revelations of Florence’s past and glimpse her likeness in Madame Tussaud’s.

Florence’s fate was fiercely debated in the courtroom, on the front pages of the newspapers and in parlours and backyards across the country. Did she poison her husband? Was her previous infidelity proof of murderous intentions? Was James’ own habit of self-medicating to blame for his demise?

Historian Kate Colquhoun recounts an utterly absorbing tale of addiction, deception and adultery that keeps you asking to the very last page, did she kill him?

Aspects I Liked and/or Enjoyed
~Vivid Descriptions: Though I’m not a reader that enjoys lots of description, the author described everything in such a detailed way that I had no problems visualizing the era (food and fashion seemed to be the most prominent) and the environment (the Battlecrease House was often described and the author included a map). I suppose it also helps that I’m a massive Downton Abbey fan

~Detailed Research: The author has clearly done a lot of research, there’s a huge amount of effort put into the book, with footnotes and references at the end, there’s also direct quotes from people (written in italics).

~The Feminist Agenda: Lets be clear about one thing, the reason Florence Maybrick is on trial in the first place is because of the time-period, Victorian society’s attitudes towards Adultery (which is still a problem in modern British society) and the civil and legal rights of Women (which at the time were pretty non-existent). This trial would never have occurred in modern society, regardless of whether she was guilty. It was pretty clear that Florence Maybrick was on trial for Adultery and not Attempted Murder.

Aspects I Had Problems With
~Slow Plot: It took a long time to get into the flow of the plot and key elements, like Florence’s pregnancy and miscarriage, were not always clear. It took ages to get the trial stage, which was were I felt the novel had most of the momentum.

~Forgone Conclusion: In my opinion, James Maybrick’s arsenic addiction sort of made it a moot point, it didn’t matter if she killed him because he was going to kill himself anyway. As the author established, there was literally arsenic in everything during the Victorian era and very little technological ability to either improve/combat the situation or conduct conclusive testing. While I don’t think Florence Maybrick killed her husband, from my perspective she didn’t stand to gain anything from his death but would have gained a lot by keeping him alive, it was only a matter of time before James Maybrick’s death by arsenic occurred.

Overall, it’s a detailed and comprehensive read, however while I enjoy crime and mystery, I’m not a big fan of the true crime genre, which is generally more depressing (I read books to get away from reality, not to be reminded of it). However, I am happy to recommend it to either true crime enthusiasts or readers interested in gender studies.

Interview with Kate Colquhoun

RMFAO Genre Challenge 2016

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Bossypants
Title: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Sphere, imprint of Little, Brown Book Group
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Format and Price: E-Book at $12.99

About The Author:
Elizabeth Stamatina “Tina” Fey is an American actress, comedian, writer and producer. She has received seven Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, and four Writers Guild of America Awards. She was singled out as the performer who had the greatest impact on culture and entertainment in 2008 by the Associated Press, who gave her their AP Entertainer of the Year award.

After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1992, Fey moved to Chicago to take classes at the improvisational comedy group The Second City, where she became a featured player in 1994. Three years later, Fey became a writer for the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL). She was promoted to the position of head writer in 1999. The following year, Fey was added to the cast of SNL. During her time there, she was co-anchor of the show’s Weekend Update segment. After leaving SNL in 2006, she created the television series called 30 Rock, a situation comedy loosely based on her experiences at SNL. In the series, Fey portrays the head writer of a fictional sketch comedy series.

In 2004, Fey made her film debut as writer and co-star of the teen comedy Mean Girls. In 2008, she starred in the comedy film Baby Mama, alongside Amy Poehler. In 2009, Fey won an Emmy Award for her satirical portrayal of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a guest appearance on SNL.

About The Book:
Once in a generation a woman comes along who changes everything. Tina Fey is not that woman, but she met that woman once and acted weird around her.

Before 30 Rock, Mean Girls and ‘Sarah Palin’, Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon – from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

General Observations:
~A Little Bit Of Everything: Tina Fey’s memoir isn’t in canonical order and covers a broad range of topics and stages in her life, so I see why some readers might describe it as “all over the place” and it does feel like that at certain points, but I think it works for me (however I can see why it doesn’t work for some readers).

~Favourite Chapters: While I love Tina Fey’s much hailed Sarah Palin impersonations, her Saturday Night Live chapters weren’t the chapters I enjoyed the most, though I did enjoy reading about the writing process for comedy skits (and the separation of writing the skit and acting in the skit). However, two chapters stand out for me the most, the chapter Tina Fey dedicates to Amy Poehler and the chapter she dedicates to her father Don Fey. You can see it in the SNL skits they perform, it’s obvious that Tina and Amy not only work well together but enjoy each other’s company immensely. As for Don Fey, Don Fey was a code-breaker in the Korean war, Don Fey is intense and, according to Alec Baldwin, not a man to be messed with. I find it interesting to learn about people’s parents, especially with regards to comedians.

~Feminist Priorities: While I did enjoy her chapter on “Crazy Older Actresses” (spoiler alert: older actresses are given the crazy label when Executive Producers no longer feel the urge to fuck them, this label is rarely applied to men and even when it is, it’s rarely seen as a detraction), I couldn’t really relate to her chapters about what it’s like to juggle a career and a family, though I completely understand why those chapters need to be written, the conversation of how people need to stop asking how women balance a career and a family and just let them get on with it needs to happen. However, it’s not a topic that’s high on my specific Feminist Agenda, at my age Tina Fey was still working at the YMCA, hopefully by the time I’m 40, this will no longer be an issue. However, that this is still an issue now does lead me to cynical conclusions.

Overall, an interesting and entertaining read that’s easy to read yet engaging, I definitely recommend reading it.

Links:
~Tina Fey & Amy Poehler: First Ladies of Comedy (January 10, 2014)

~Couric / Palin Open – Saturday Night Live

~VP Debate Open: Palin / Biden – Saturday Night Live

~Governor Palin Cold Open – Saturday Night Live
RMFAO Genre Challenge 2016

Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia by Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren

Coming of Age
Title: Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia
Editors: Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Format and Price: E-Book at $12.36

About The Editors:
Amra Pajalic: Amra Pajalic is an author and teacher, she was born and raised in Melbourne’s Western Suburbs and where she works as a high school teacher. She shares her home with her husband, daughter and three cats. Her debut novel The Good Daughter won the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Civic Choice Award, and was a finalist in the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature Best Writing Award. Prior to publication it was shortlisted in the 2007 Victorian Premier’s Awards for Best Unpublished Manuscript. She is also author of a novel for children Amir: Friend on Loan.

She is co-editor of the anthology Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Children’s Book Council of Australia Eve Pownall Award for Information Books and was selected by the Grattan Institute for the 2015 Summer Reading List for Prime Minister. Amra also wrote the teaching notes published by Allen and Unwin. She has had short stories and non fiction pieces place in competitions, get published in magazines (Big Issue, Woman’s Day), journals (Etchings, The Emerging Writer) and anthologies (2004 and 2005 Best Australian Stories, Wordlines, Through The Clock’s Workings).

She is a co-author and Project Manager of What a Muslim Woman Looks Like, a government funded resource profiling Muslim women which has been used as an educational resource for cross cultural training in schools and by organisations. It is also being used by high schools to support VCE students writing on themes of Identity and Belonging. WAMWLL received wide media attention and was featured in the Herald Sun, Today Tonight, and Triple RRR.

Demet Divaroren: Demet Divaroren was born in Adana, Turkey and migrated to Australia with her family when she was six months old. She writes fiction and non-fiction and is the co-editor of Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia anthology. Demet’s writing has appeared in Griffith REVIEW, Island magazine, Scribe’s New Australian Stories, The Age Epicure, The Big Issue, and was commended in the Ada Cambridge Biographical Prose Prize 2013. Her first novel, Orayt?, was shortlisted for the Australian Vogel Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript.

Demet is the recipient of an Australia Council Artstart Grant, a Jump Mentoring Grant, a Rosebank Residential Writing Fellowship, a Varuna Fellowship for a Writing Retreat and a Glenfern Grace Marion Wilson Fellowship. She is the Artist in Residence at Deer Park Art Spaces and appears as a panellist, guest speaker and workshop leader at literary festivals, universities, and schools across Melbourne. Demet is currently writing a young adult novel titled The Lost Boys.

About The Book:
Muslim people in Australia come from over seventy countries and represent a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and experiences. Yet we are constantly bombarded by media stories feeding one negative stereotype. What is it really like to grow up Muslim in Australia? In this book, famous and not-so-famous Muslim-Australians tell their stories in their own voices.

The beard, the hijab, the migrant – these are all familiar images associated with Muslim people. But delve deeper and there are many other stories: the young female boxer entering the ring for her first professional bout; a ten-year-old boy who renounces religion; a young woman struggling to reconcile her sexual identity with her faith. These honest and heartfelt stories will resonate with all readers, providing different snapshots of Muslim life in Australia, dispelling myths and stereotypes, and above all celebrating diversity, achievement, courage and determination.

‘Coming of Age is the kind of book that will change how readers look at the world… Coloured with many shades of humour, warmth, sadness, anger, determination and honesty, it will resonate with readers from all backgrounds and beliefs.’ Bookseller+Publisher

General Observations:
~Technicality: Now, I understand that this book is a short story anthology with multiple authors (some of whom are men) and that Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren are the editors of this book. however as I’ve before stated, about 50% of the short stories are written by women who may have multiple heritage and personal identity labels, but the majority of them do identify with the Australian way of life (though being Australian is not the only identifier they have and that’s perfectly fine). So I’m including it in the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge.

~Basic Overview: My favourite parts were the introduction chapters, as the authors gave brief description of what their specific Islamic culture and practices, what their ethnic background, how those two identity labels worked together was and how it could separate from other people who identify with Islam and Australian. For those who are worried that is book has heavy theological discussions, don’t worry it doesn’t and while it some stories do contain references to particular verses in the Quran, it’s mostly short and explained with footnotes. So even for someone like myself, who has no knowledge of Islamic culture, the references were easy to understand.

~Narrative Elements: I’m not usually into short story anthologies but Coming of Age worked for me. All the writers had interesting but different stories to tell,they all had different cultural influences and were all in different stages of their life (you know, just like regular people). The stories were well written and engaging. This book should most certain be mandatory reading for VCE. however, there were consistent cultural differences with Australian culture and similar reactions from the authors even though they all had different experiences (though a lot of them did originate from the surrounding suburbs of Sydney in New South Wales). I have noticed that immigrants who show a talent or interest in Sports do tend to have more positive experiences with Australian culture or blend in with Australian culture easier (though it’s not always a guarantee). It did highlight things I was already aware of like how the Australian Education System does very little to help accommodate students who speak a language other than English at home and how Australians should place a higher value on academical discipline over sporting achievement. I also loved reading about the inter-generational households, the majority of my cousins and extended family lived either in New South Wales or Queensland, so I never had that inter-generational contact growing up.

~Time Marches On: With current events happening, books like these need to be written, published and read. However, with books like these, there is a risk of events like the Cronulla riots (it’s difficult to believe that it’s been over ten years since that happened) and the 2002 Bali Bombings from becoming dated. Although I know most Australians would like to think that Racial Tensions with Islamic communities are a thing of the past, however recent conflict surrounding The Bendigo Mosque and The Daily Show’s coverage of the 2013 Australian Election campaign prove otherwise.
AWWC 2016
RMFAO Genre Challenge 2016