A Season of Disruption by Jacqueline P Walker

#BookReview
Cultural|Ethnic|Family|Loss|Courage

This beautifully written memoir is heartwarming and inspirational. Life can present us with unpredictable situations for which we aren’t ready most of the times. One such event occurred in the life of an eight-year-old child and this story is about how the family faces this devastating loss. What makes this book so powerful is the determination and courage of the family during times of distress.

When Murna Moreland loses her husband, the responsibility of her five young children falls upon her. Being a homemaker, she has no idea how to provide for her family. So she entrusts her eldest daughter, Hope, to take on the role of a guardian for her younger siblings. Murna goes to the United States to work so she can provide her children with a better life.

During the time away from their mother, the five siblings continue to live their life diligently while taking care of each other. Murna works hard every single day without losing hope and by curbing her fears so she can reunite with her family soon.

A Season of Disruption is a short yet impactful memoir written by Jacqueline P Walker. It discusses death, family, relationships, courage, and hope. Through her story, we can learn how to face challenges, and even though things might seem like they are falling apart at the moment, they will eventually fall back into place. It’s all about holding onto hope and staying strong.

Synopsis of A Season of Disruption by Jacqueline P Walker,

Obstacles are a part of life. Overcoming them motivates others to persevere and soar! A Season of Disruption is a fictional memoir that tells a story of courage, love, and the willpower to withstand challenges that often break and defeat families.

Widowed due to a twist of fate, Murna Moreland, a Caribbean homemaker, makes a nearly unimaginable choice. She leaves her children—alone— in Jamaica and journeys to the US to find opportunities. Murna anticipates that she will be able to have the children join her soon.

Meanwhile, with their father’s death and mother’s departure, 15-year-old Hope assumes guardianship for her four younger siblings. Together the children strive to survive, believing that the separation from their mother will be brief.

In the US, Murna diligently focuses on reuniting her family but obstacles delay and derail her plan. Unwilling to accept defeat, she crafts a risky scheme that will either quickly bring her family back together or keep them apart indefinitely.

You can also find my review on the website: Reedsy

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Book Review

Memoir | Inspirational | Politics | Success Journey | Autobiography

Where do I begin? How can I say something different about this book that you don’t already know, I guess I cannot because this book is about Michelle Obama. But I can certainly say that it will have a lasting impact on its readers in its unique way. Becoming is a memoir about Mrs. Obama’s personal experiences from childhood to becoming the former First Lady of the United States. It’s about her journey, her successful journey, that was not just rosy but also about taking the rough with the smooth. What makes this journey so amazing is that it’s relatable and at the same time inspiring.

Here’s a memory, which like most memories is imperfect and subjective – collected long ago like a beach pebble and slipped into the pocket of my mind.

Michelle Obama

There are three parts to this book: Becoming Me, Becoming Us, Becoming More.
Just the name of the chapters is good enough to inspire me. Sometimes the hardest part can be understanding yourself, your limitations, your strengths, and it’s all about learning to embrace them.

In the first part, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson talks about her childhood. The place where she grew up which is the South Side of Chicago, about her close-knit family, her neighborhood, and her school. As a kid, she was competitive, a go-getter, and was determined to excel at school. She also took piano lessons from her mother’s aunt, Robbie, at a very young age. Even though they had little money while growing up, her life was filled with rich experiences that have taught her to appreciate the little joys. Her brother, Craig, has been a constant support in her years of growing up. Her father taught her to be strong, brave, and to keep going no matter how hard life gets at times. Her mother taught her the most valuable lessons while she was growing up and she continues to be her role model. Despite the racial inequalities that she had to face at times, she managed to study at Princeton University and also graduated from Harvard University.

Time, as far as my father was concerned, was a gift you gave to other people.

– Michelle Obama

The second part, Becoming Us is about Michelle and Barack Obama. There was excitement from deep down when I reached this part. It’s hard for anyone to not get attracted to Obama’s magnetic personality and his mesmerizing smile, not that Michelle is any less charismatic. When these two powerful personalities come together sparks are bound to fly. Becoming Us is Michelle and Obama’s journey – of how their relationship evolved from colleagues, friends to lovers. When they were truly connecting, I was all starry-eyed while reading it, and it has to be one of my most favorite love stories. Further on, Michelle talks about the good times as well as the bad times that they had to go through because of their immensely demanding jobs. Although, it felt like Michelle had to make more sacrifices in this relationship we cannot hold Obama responsible for any faults since politics is a field where your life belongs more to the public than to your family. She also talks in-depth about motherhood and their lovely girls, Malia and Sasha.

Barack was serious without being self-serious. He was breezy in his manner but powerful in his mind.

There was no arguing with the fact that even with his challenged sense of style, Barack was a catch. He was good-looking, poised, and successful. He was athletic, interesting, and kind. What more could anyone want?

– Michelle Obama

The last part, Becoming More, is about what it takes to be the First Lady and its tremendous responsibilities. She talks about how she managed to learn things that nobody tells you about and how it feels like to be living in the White House. Never a fan of politics, Michelle Obama was worried how their lives will no longer be private anymore. Every little thing was going to be noticed, criticized, or appreciated. Doing the most mundane things like sitting on the balcony to enjoy a cup of tea was out of reach for her. They had become the most important people and with that came many duties towards their country. As the First Lady, Mrs. Obama tried to make the most of this opportunity by putting effort into inspiring children and young girls with the Let’s Move and Let Girls Learn initiatives. Her Joining Forces initiative along with Dr. Jill Biden was aimed towards supporting military families and the Reach Higher initiative encouraged young students to take charge of their future. Even though the Obamas couldn’t bring an immediate change, they worked towards making the country as they think it should be with the hope that future generations will see a better world.

We were planting seeds of change, the fruit of which we might never see. We had to be patient.

Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?

– Michelle Obama

What makes this book special is telling normal people, like me or us, that celebrated icons have a normal life too and that in turn can make us feel special. They also go through the same emotional ups and downs but nobody shares it in such depth. She is like one of us, living a simple life, doing simple things, and having similar dreams. Nothing over the top, just a normal person getting through life one day at a time. Some excerpts in this book have taught me how life is so short and how we need to make the most of it. She talks about things that sometimes we are terrified to even think about, like death. Nobody tells us how to deal with death, by sharing her intimate experiences, she tells us that even the difficult times will pass, and soon dealing with the terrible pain of loss will not be so hard.

This is an autobiography that’s not just about her, I guess it’s her way of teaching valuable life lessons like a mentor who is looking out for us. It’s not a self-help book but when you have a guide like Michelle Obama why wouldn’t you want to look up to her and learn how to deal with the difficult times. Her honesty and deeply personal experiences are not a boastful act but a subtle way of motivating people to face challenges and to be courageous.

There are so many amazing quotes in this book, I wish I could list all the ones that I have highlighted while I was reading it but then I guess I will end up quoting the entire book. I will hold myself back and only share some of the best ones that you might enjoy reading too.

I’ve smiled for photos with people who call my husband horrible names on national television, but still want a framed keepsake for their mantel.

It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does. It can hurt to walk down a hallway or open the fridge. It hurts to put on a pair of socks, to brush your teeth. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look at something you’d otherwise find beautiful—a purple sky at sunset or a playground full of kids—and it only somehow deepens the loss. Grief is so lonely this way.

I’d been raised to be confident and see no limits, to believe I could go after and get absolutely anything I wanted. And I wanted everything. Because, as Suzanne would say, why not?

Dominance, even the threat of it, is a form of dehumanization. It’s the ugliest kind of power.

When I was a kid, it was easy to grasp: Bullies were scared people hiding inside scary people.

Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result

For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end

– Michelle Obama

It was hard for me to write a review for this book without getting carried away and adding my opinions on situations that resonated with me. Thank you for reading this review till the end. Clearly, I am a huge fan of the Obamas, I will keep it short by saying, “I highly recommend this book so, please go read it!”

PS: I remember the day when somebody told me that I look like Michelle Obama and I had gotten annoyed because obviously, they were not comparing personalities, it was about my skin color. I guess the annoyance came from my childhood experiences where I was often told that I look like Halle Berry or Kiran Bedi because I was a brown-skinned girl with a boy-cut hairstyle. Even though it was supposed to be taken as a compliment I found the comparisons to be a little crude. But now, I feel proud that the person who compared me to Mrs. Obama has given me one of the best compliments ever and I hope that someday I get to be a strong and wonderful woman like her. Here’s to becoming like Michelle Obama!

Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.

– Michelle Obama

Gorgeous Quote #6

To bake a cake in the eye of a storm; to feed yourself sugar on the cusp of danger.

By Ocean Vuong

This quote is from the book, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. Every line in this book is like poetry, beautiful, graceful and so impactful. The title of the book itself was amazing enough for me to pick it up and start reading. This literary fiction discusses some serious elements like trauma, violence, race, war, and survival.

To explain the above quote, the author says, “In the story, when a girl and her grandmother spot a storm brewing on the green horizon, instead of shuttering the windows or nailing boards on the doors, they set out to bake a cake. I was unmoored by this act, its precarious yet bold refusal of common sense.”

Educated by Tara Westover

Memoir|Self-help|Inspirational|Family

Book Review

Educated, is a memoir written by Tara Westover. Before I begin the book review I have to say that I am in awe of Tara, she is my hero and I aspire to be as brave, determined, and confident as her, someday.

This book recounts Tara’s experiences of growing up in a Mormon survivalist family that is always preparing to survive an Apocalypse. Tara does not get a proper education until the age of seventeen as her father believes that the public health and education system are corrupted by the Illuminati. Stuck between the curiosity of exploring the outside world and the confusing dominating views of her family, Tara has a troubled childhood. At the age of seventeen, Tara finally decides to join school and get an education. The path of self-discovery from hereon, though not smooth, slowly brings a profound change in her life.

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”

Tara’s life begins at the Buck’s Peak mountain in rural Idaho. She lives an isolated life with her Mormon family. Her father is paranoid, extremely religious and owns a metal junkyard. Her mother is a midwife and later gains recognition as a herbal specialist.

Tara is the youngest child and has six siblings – Tony, Shawn, Tyler, Luke, Richard, and her sister Audrey. The children are expected to work at the junkyard with their father from a very young age. They are loosely homeschooled by their mother. Tyler, was the first child who takes serious interest in studies and decides to leave home. Tara being close to Tyler feels betrayed when he leaves her. Soon, Tara like the rest of her siblings is expected to work at the junkyard.

The children face multiple accidents at the junkyard but they are never taken to the hospital, all injuries are attended to by their mother. Luke gets burned while working with his father, Shawn has multiple accidents at the junkyard and while riding his motorcycle, Tara injures her neck in a car accident, Tara’s mother has a serious brain injury, but every time the father refuses to take any of them to the hospital for treatment. He believes that it is all a part of God’s plan and they can only be healed by Him. Tara also faces abuse from her violent elder brother, Shawn, soon she starts believing that her actions must be sinful for which she is being punished.

“It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you.”

I often had my hand over my mouth or I found myself on the edge of my couch while reading about these horrifying accidents. But all these incidents do not dampen Tara’s spirits, she keeps going, keeps trying and believing that only she can make her life better. It takes tremendous amount of courage to continue on a path that is explicitly forbidden by your family. While reading the book, I could feel Tara’s state of mind being torn between her family and her idea that she controls her life. Tara through self-education passes the ACT examination and joins BYU. Her dedication, interest and enthusiasm to learn new subjects eventually earns her a doctorate in history at Cambridge University.

“He said positive liberty is self-mastery—the rule of the self, by the self. To have positive liberty, he explained, is to take control of one’s own mind; to be liberated from irrational fears and beliefs, from addictions, superstitions and all other forms of self-coercion.”

Not everybody has it easy. Children expect love and support from their families, they believe that their parents always know best and they grow up trusting them. But, every family has a different way of raising kids. Just because Tara’s parents did not bring her up in a conventional way does not mean they did not love her. All the tough times and trauma that the children face made them stronger. Despite the hardship, there is nothing that they cannot possibly do if they set their minds to it. The fact that Tara could articulate about the trauma and abuse that she faced in her childhood reflects how strong she is physically and emotionally. Her past experiences might have broken her many times, but she is now living her life on her terms and this is why she is a real trooper.

The reason this book feels personal is because each of us have been put in a situation where we feel like an outsider and do not know any of the rules. Her story is inspiring because of her absolute self-belief and determination to continue down the path that she has chosen. We can all draw on Tara’s strength while in a similar predicament. Educated, is a wonderfully written memoir by Tara Westover and I consider it a must-read!

“To admit uncertainty is to admit to weakness, to powerlessness, and to believe in yourself despite both. It is a frailty, but in this frailty there is a strength: the conviction to live in your own mind, and not in someone else’s.”

“But vindication has no power over guilt. No amount of anger or rage directed at others can subdue it, because guilt is never about them. Guilt is the fear of one’s own wretchedness. It has nothing to do with other people.”

Tara Westover