Size Doesn’t Matter (91): Fresh Off the Boat; Being Jazz; Beast

Size Doesn’t Matter (91): Fresh Off the Boat; Being Jazz; BeastFresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang
Narrator: Eddie Huang
Length: 7 hrs, 55 mins
Published by Random House Audio on January 29, 2013
Genres: Memoir, Humor
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

Assimilating ain’t easy. Eddie Huang was raised by a wild family of FOB (“fresh off the boat”) immigrants—his father a cocksure restaurateur with a dark past back in Taiwan, his mother a fierce protector and constant threat. Young Eddie tried his hand at everything mainstream America threw his way, from white Jesus to macaroni and cheese, but finally found his home as leader of a rainbow coalition of lost boys up to no good: skate punks, dealers, hip-hop junkies, and sneaker freaks. This is the story of a Chinese-American kid in a could-be-anywhere cul-de-sac blazing his way through America’s deviant subcultures, trying to find himself, ten thousand miles from his legacy and anchored only by his conflicted love for his family and his passion for food. Funny, moving, and stylistically inventive, Fresh Off the Boat is more than a radical reimagining of the immigrant memoir—it’s the exhilarating story of every American outsider who finds his destiny in the margins.

I’m so not Eddie Huang’s target audience for Fresh Off the Boat. My interest in his memoir came from how much I like the show, which Huang actually doesn’t like because it totally sanitizes his life story and makes it more palatable to the white palate. I’ve also got very little knowledge of hip hop, don’t do drugs (and never have) and I’m white and nerdy as can be.

Eddie Huang’s got a powerful voice, one that I’d have expected to find annoying, but he’s being so himself that it’s hard not to appreciate that honesty. It’s interesting to compare the show with the book and to see the way that they altered his story to make it prime time comedy material. I liked the memoir, but I know my boyfriend will get so much more out of it, as a foodie Korean-American into hip hop and basketball. I’m going to force him to listen.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (91): Fresh Off the Boat; Being Jazz; BeastBeing Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
Narrator: Jazz Jennings
Length: 4 hrs, 3 mins
Published by Listening Library on June 7, 2016
Genres: Memoir
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
four-stars

Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community. This groundbreaking interview was followed over the years by other high-profile interviews, a documentary, the launch of her YouTube channel, a picture book, and her own reality TV series—I Am Jazz—making her one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens, children, and adults.

In her remarkable memoir, Jazz reflects on these very public experiences and how they have helped shape the mainstream attitude toward the transgender community. But it hasn’t all been easy. Jazz has faced many challenges, bullying, discrimination, and rejection, yet she perseveres as she educates others about her life as a transgender teen. Through it all, her family has been beside her on this journey, standing together against those who don't understand the true meaning of tolerance and unconditional love. Now Jazz must learn to navigate the physical, social, and emotional upheavals of adolescence—particularly high school—complicated by the unique challenges of being a transgender teen. Making the journey from girl to woman is never easy—especially when you began your life in a boy’s body.

In the next installment of Christina has absolutely no idea how to review memoirs, I listened to Being Jazz. I picked this one out from the list of potential review audiobooks on a whim. I’d like to be a bit more informed than I am on transgender people, and the way I like to learn about stuff is collecting stories, both fictional and not.

Jazz’s memoir is super short, which makes sense considering that she’s about to be a freshman in high school at the end of it. I mean, I listened to the whole audiobook in one evening. Usually celebrities have ghostwriters, but this book feels very authentically Jazz, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she wrote the whole thing herself. Listening to the audiobook, you get an even more real sense of her voice, which is why basically the only memoirs I listen to are those narrated by the author. Jazz is shockingly open and comfortable with herself, and she really lets you into both the good and the bad times. There’s no way I would have been comfortable enough to talk about peeing myself when I was her age; heck, I’d leave that out of a memoir now!

If you’re curious, Jazz’s memoir is quick and engaging. I’m glad I picked this one out.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (91): Fresh Off the Boat; Being Jazz; BeastBeast by Brie Spangler
Published by Knopf BFYR on October 11, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Retelling
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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Goodreads
three-half-stars

A witty, wise, and heart-wrenching novel that will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan.

Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

Brie Spangler’s Beast immediately jumped to the top of my most wanted list when that cover got revealed. I mean, omg, it’s so gorgeous. A bit misleading given that the book’s a non-magical contemporary, but I can’t complain too much about such loveliness. The book within’s not quite as beautiful, but it’s a good, unique read.

Told from the perspective of the titular Beast, Spangler’s debut tells her version of the Beauty and the Beast tale. The connection to the original story is a loose one. While I tagged this a retelling, the only commonality is the male love interest called the Beast and a beautiful girl who will help him discover his better nature through love.

Beast, aka Dylan, has a strong voice. He’s funny, incredibly bright (I mean, for real, even I don’t use the word diaphanous to describe anything), and carrying a chip on his shoulder the size of his shoulder. At 15, he’s covered in hair (on his back, hands, and just about everywhere else hair grows) and already 6’4″. His father was almost 6’8″ and died of cancer when Dylan was just 3. Dylan’s mom treats him as if he were a precious angel made of glass and everyone else treats him like a beast, a sasquatch, a thug, despite the fact that he’s top of the class.

It’s a nice change of pace to read a male main character with serious body image issues. You don’t see that as often, and obviously men hold themselves to high standards for appearance just like women do. Dylan’s 15 and can pass for like 30s-40s. His only friend uses him as free muscle, and all anyone wants him for is the football team. He’s got complexes miles wide, and his self-loathing leads to self-harm, which lands him in group therapy where he meets the beautiful Jamie.

For the most part, I really enjoyed Beast, but unfortunately I did not ship the ship. Jamie’s amazing, and Dylan treats her like shit over and over. When he discovers she’s transgender, something he should have known in group if he hadn’t been so self-involved that he zoned out thinking about his problems, he’s disgusted and horrified. He comes around because obviously, but that’s not the end of the ways he hurts her (and I don’t find his desire to communicate with his dead dad a good enough reason tbh), and I didn’t want her to end up with him. It’s a shame that I ship the cartoon animal Beast with his Belle, but the human Beast I can’t ship with the lovely Jamie. I love Jamie for always calling him out on his shit, but I hope she eventually finds someone who appreciates her more. *hugs Jamie tightly*

Beast‘s a quick read and very engaging. I wish I could have shipped the couple, but it’s got a lot to recommend it aside from the ship.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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