Book Review: “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga

Hello!

Last year, I was scrolling through Facebook and this meme had popped up from a library, stating mainly to those who are adults, that it is okay to enjoy reading YA (young adult) books. I took this to heart because I have heard of my favorite booktubers feeling uneasy about checking out books in this genre, and to see this slip all throughout my social media has influenced my own journey branching out from other genres that I feel weird reading like children’s literature. I wasn’t a lover of reading (of any kind) when I was little, so now I’m diving deep into classics I had pushed aside in the past.

This book isn’t part of that list, but it is middle grade, which is targeted for students in junior high or middle school, at least that’s what I believe is the meaning behind it. An example of what is considered middle grade are the Harry Potter books. Of course, they take a darker note after ‘The Goblet of Fire’ but for the most part they are always regarded for pre-teens around the ages of 10-15.

WARNING: there are some spoilers below. So, If you are planning on reading the book in the near future, you might want to skip this post!

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I am learning how to be
sad
and happy
at the same time.


Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

taken from Goodreads.

This was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, and a brilliant read for this month as it is Ramadan in the Muslim communities. As you may know, I love to learn, and a few years ago I was introduced to the holiday event Ramadan and Eid. This was one that I was not familiar with, but I was thrilled to learn what people do to celebrate the month of fasting, praying, and ultimately the renewal of life that comes with it. I’ve learned a lot in the last three years, as I always read at least one book around Ramadan, and this year I chose “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga.

This story of a little girl who spent her early years in Syria, living with her family, going to school, and having the typical childhood, until the start of the violence there breaks every thing she is used to, and it immediately made me remember an old friend of mine, her name was Reem, and she lived in Syria. One of her last tweets was in 2014, and honestly, every time she came on with new updates about her and her outlook on the country as a whole was so heartbreaking for us. I haven’t talked about her much because it hurts to know how close she was to it. I don’t know if she made it out of Syria and I’ve checked her previous accounts on Twitter, but there’s nothing there. I always hope she is somewhere free of the chaos and that’s all I can really do.

For our main character Jude, you are able to see the innocence of this young girl navigating this new world in a way; I liked the way, we as the reader, were able to see the good and bad in Jude’s life. She goes to a school in America with her cousin, who was born here. It was interesting to see the differences between these little girls as they are part of the same blood but has been through different things. For Jude’s cousin Sarah, she wouldn’t be totally comfortable accepting a hijab after starting her period. You get the gist right away that she wasn’t raised like that and isn’t very accepting of Jude to being like that.

and I know I am not back home, but here, in this home.

Despite this, there was one girl that was a great addition to Jude’s life, and her name is Layla. She was born in the United States, but her family is from Lebanon and own a Middle Eastern restaurant that Jude visits to enjoy food and love of her native homeland. Layla is a great insight into what it is like for a child who doesn’t feel like she belongs and feels like she’s punished for it. I believe Sarah and Layla respect two sides of what it’s like being a girl in America. If people don’t understand something, they are afraid of it. I heard this phrase a lot as a teenager, but it really spoke to me while reading about Jude in this book.

A way of getting acclimated to her new school was instantly being in an ESL class. ESL means “English Second Language” and I can remember seeing several students in school growing up, having to be hallways to learn English, because as far as I knew we didn’t have those at the time. Honestly, it wasn’t until high school we were allowed to choose between two languages to learn as an elective, and they were German and Spanish. In Jude’s case, she has three other students in her class, and they were from other parts of the world, and it was sweet to see them learn slang words like “bougie” (which I did not learn about until I was 28!) and phrases such as, “you know?”

There were so many things I truly adored about this book, but I did not enjoy how it ended. I felt like it should have given the reader more of what happens after that final scene, but instead we were left with a cliffhanger ending and it really angered me because I thought it could have continued on a little more, but I’ll get over it.

Have you read “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga yet? If so, what were your thoughts? What was your favorite scene(s) of the whole book?

snowflake

Life | Getting A Late Start

Hello there!

It seems so weird to be writing this post.

I have not felt inspired to talk about anything lately. I’ve been like this since the end of October. I made myself dive hard into Blogmas in December and I genuinely enjoyed the posts I did for those three weeks, but by Christmas, I knew I needed to take a longer break from blogging. At one point, I was even comfortable with the idea of never blogging again…

Technically I quit on the 23rd of December, so depending on when I’ll actually get this post out, it would be about two months of nothing to do with writing, publishing, and networking. This prospect is a frightening reality I am currently living with because all I know to do is blog. I may not get paid for my posts, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think of it as a job anyways, and I wonder if that’s also part of it; when I am “working” I feel like I have that constant need to do this or that and it has just taken away all of the fun it brought me in the early days.

I created this blog in May 2011, to give me a space to work on my writing style but the reason why I focused my attention on discussing disability topics is because I wanted to show people of various ages that you can have a wonderful life with a severe disability. I have fallen out of that a few times in the last 12 years of blogging, but I always found a way to come back stronger. The last five years, I have enjoyed how far I’ve come as a writer, I was taking chances and it felt amazing to see all of the hard work pay off.

For my birthday last November, I had this strange feeling inside and it felt like I was turning into a better version of myself. It was “strange” because when I began my 20’s, I sought out finding my soulmate, getting married and raising a family by a certain age like most young women do. It wasn’t until I hit 28 that I realized my overall dream of what I wanted to have as a life wasn’t going to come and although the realization hurt like hell at first, I felt like I could breathe better. Honestly, a lot of things changed at that age! I became an aunt for the first time, and I think it was a great wakeup call for me! I love babies and children, but I have never spent the day/night with them before so being around this little human has humbled me to the core.

This would somewhat happen again a year later, as I asked my cousins about how they knew they were attracted to others, and they proceeded to discuss being in relationships, and all throughout that conversation I wanted to throw up but ironically enough that was one visit I did not come home with the stomach flu… I was shocked that I really couldn’t sense myself entering a relationship and being comfortable about it at this point of my life, and I still don’t four months later! I’ve never been the type of person that would get married, I like the way of having a life partner instead.

Even though the new year is already here, we can always enter a new path at any time. It doesn’t always have to start on your birthday or NYE, and you can never make a mistake on your journey either. You can always come back after a setback so please try not to feel bad or foolish because tomorrow is a whole new day to begin anew.

If you have been reading this post all the way though, I appreciate you for your commitment. I would like to know how long you’ve been a part of my blog in the comments. You don’t have to say the exact date, but if you do indeed remember the day, you started visiting Got Meghan’s Blog, please list it down below.

snowflake

Life | Mental Heath Update + Things I CAN Control

TW: talks about the dark side of depression and thoughts of suicide!

Hello!

Last year was so crazy that I ended up forgetting writing a two year post depression/mental health update. The only reason why I’m here now is because it’s been on my mind for the last few months. I am a whole month late but I don’t care about that too much, and I didn’t think you would mind either.

A “little” backstory of my struggle with depression.

I’ve had a semi-long history with it, It started in middle school, and just seemed to get worse after I graduated high school. The prospect of going to college and having to deal with different people, surroundings, etc was really exciting at the time, but you have to understand I wasn’t thinking like I had a serve physical disability. I was always in denial because I wanted to be like my friends, go to a regular class, live in a dorm and go to parties, everything that a normal college person does, I wanted it too.

When hell decided to descend into my life, I took it very hard. I was so depressed that I have MONTHS–between the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2012–of memories gone! I thought of suicide many times, and just because I have a disability, doesn’t mean I never thought of ways on how it could work in my favor. When you are that low, you are as determined to end your life but thankfully, I never acted on those feelings, but every time I felt like I was heading into that suffocating black hole, I was terrified because I knew what was going to happen once it took hold of me again.

And then at the end of 2017, after my sister got been married and told everybody that they were going to wait five years to start trying to have a baby, they find out they were pregnant. I was already trying to deal with the aftermath of my papaw dying, and that one pretty much threw me over and I went down the biggest hole I’d been in since September 2010. I struggled to be happy for them becoming parents, my parents becoming grandparents and the fact that I was going to be an aunt, but I thoroughly jealous of the fact that my younger sister was going to have a baby.

I’ve always wanted to have a family of my own.

It was the one thing that I wanted to accomplish most of all.

Nothing else I ever did would matter as much as being a mother. I thought my disability would be pushed down like it had while I was growing up because I would be more focused on my child(ren) than my disability. This also shows you how much I despised my own body that would one day carry my own flesh and blood, so seeing my sister absolutely hate everything about being pregnant would make me want to scream after every visit! It angered me so much that this was happening, and then my nephew was born and I was instantly full of both good and bad emotions. I felt really guilty, but yet I was still holding on to that dream and so, it just continued to drag me down

I was supposed to have a doctor’s appointment to discuss taking anti-depressants into the middle of the pregnancy, my poor mom had to be my rock throughout those nine months because I was so sad. I would cry almost every night and finally, a week after Nolan was home, I started on my long journey to heal. In my first year update, I mentioned that I would still have my ups and downs, and that is definitely true all around but I will say, I have kept quite a few affirmations in my mind at all times and in the past year that has really helped me continue to work on myself.

I focus on what I can control, and I let go of what I can’t.

Once I saw this, everything in the last 11 years just washed away. It was infectious to learn this quote because now I don’t feel as many things that would easily, not to mention that would normally, irritate me because I know I am in control (oddly enough!) of my own body and peace of mind. The only thing I still have issues with, is my guilt about my sister being pregnant with my nephew. I still put myself in a guilt trip every once in a while but I am learning to get out of it before the whole thing just takes over, so that’s something to be proud of I think.

I should probably share that if you haven’t learned to control how you react to the different situations, like talking back, judging a book by its cover, learning that no response is still an answer, you probably won’t be able to really let things settle down. You don’t have to right every time. You respect the other person’s words and you go on living yours by your own measure. These are things you CAN control, which brings us to the next phase of this post.

I have a blog friend by the name of Nicky and she recently posted a photo of herself on Instagram last month and explained how life was going for her at the moment. She was feeling really out of it and discussed about dealing with finding control in daily life and she proceeded to create a list of things she could control, and I liked it so much that I decided I wanted to talk about it too, but in “Got Meghan” fashion, I like to chat and ramble on–obviously! I knew doing a simple Top 10 list wasn’t going to cut it, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone basically and this was the ending result I guess.

  1. How to breathe, because not many people have the luxury to do so
  2. Everything is by choice in life and dreamland
  3. Reaction to both positive and negative situations
  4. The book(s) I want to read next – for the most part!
  5. I can help people understand more about me, the ending result will not always be in my favor, but that’s the price to pay.
  6. If things don’t come to me at the right moment or fit into my monthly blogging schedule, I can always save it for a later date.
  7. Accepting myself, ALL of my self and being in the moment
  8. One-on-one time with the cats – even if they don’t like to share!
  9. What songs to include in my Spotify playlists
  10. Creativity to the arts, especially starting new medias and projects

Before I go, I would like to say that if you can, find someone to talk about your depression, whether it’s through a therapist, family member, best friend, co-worker, basically anyone you feel the most comfort and trust with your feelings but if you are unable to, I highly suggest writing about it. You could create a blog like I did, although deep in my haze I wasn’t in the mood to blog about anything, so maybe find a journal or if you are worried about someone seeing a diary or journal, keep a regular notebook like you would keep for school assignments, and write in there secretly. Of course, the best advice I can give you is the National Hopeline Network is completely free and the number is 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). There is another one I am giving you and that is, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and their number is, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). I hope if you are struggling with life, whether you have a disability or not, I want to say, you’re not alone at all. There are ways you can thrive with life again.

My only question is, can you list out 10 things you CAN control like I did above?

August Playlist

Hello!

Well we’re here again. By now, the majority of kids are back in school and they will hope to gain some kind of routine within their day, even if it means wearing a mask while being around their fellow classmates and teachers. I have to say, I’m so happy I am not in school anymore because I remember when I was sick with strep throat and bronchitis’s, they were both brutal for me but missing school and having to do two or four days worth of Algebra homework and on top of that worry about failing finals sucked even worse! I am not the type of person to take online classes either, I have to be in front of a teacher as they are doing the problems; thus why I never made it through one semester as college!

Every year I think about each person going into middle and/or high school. They are each big steps for anyone, but they all had one heck of a schedule to them! I can’t imagine what the 2021 senior classes are thinking right now. After the news of hearing about various of fall sports events being cancelled, I imagine the desperation in every athlete is heightened because their futures are basically up in the air. Whether or not you are in sports, I still give a lot of you kudos for keeping your head up and continuing to fight your butts off during this time. I have faith in every one of you that you will make it through. Stay strong and don’t let this pandemic destroy your determination, okay?

It feels a little odd to be giving a pep talk in a monthly playlist, but this is where we are now I guess!

Let’s talk about music now though.

For August, I really wanted to allow myself to listen to anything and everything. The summer music series I started back in May is ending next Monday, so I am trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to discuss as far as music on here for the rest of the year. Thankfully, I am back to my two week blog schedule, so I will only have to worry about six posts–unless I get asked to review an album or EP in the near future then I will bring on another week to help make it special. I have been inspired to play with various music from other countries, like Arab, French, Italian, etc, so I’ve enjoyed exploring outside of my comfort zones!

I am going to list my Top 25 songs for this month, because you know I can’t half-ass it, especially a good month for music anyways! If you would love to check out the rest of the songs included in the playlist, please click here now.

Building A Mystery by Sarah McLachlan
You Will Become by Glen Hansard
Pisces by Jinjer
Oops!… I Did It Again by The Animal In Me
Lie by Sasha Sloan
Excuse Me by Fire From The Gods
Strong by Amaranthe featuring Noora Louhimo
Parasite Eve by Bring Me The Horizon
Use My Voice by Evanescence
Levitating by Dua Lipa featuring Madonna & Missy Elliott
Black Velvet Sun by My Indigo
Dark Love Empress by Leaves’ Eyes
See You In Hell by Ad Infinitum
Inferno by Abir
Who’s Laughing Now by Ava Max
O Fortuna – Epic Trailer Version by Hidden Citizens
Control by Zoe Wees
Candy by Serena Ryder
Woman by Ellie Goulding
Slow Motion by Charlotte Lawrence
Face Down by Halocene featuring Lauren Babic
Catalina by Rosalia
A Little More by Alessia Cara
No Rest For The Wicked by Lykke Li
Strangers by Halsey featuring Lauren Jauregui

Earlier this month, I made this playlist that I ultimately titled it “Maud” but not because it contains old timey music, it’s because I’ve become obsessed with the name itself. Everytime I think of the name, this hue erupts within me. A combination of gray and purple; it’s very light but edgy at the same time. I’ve been in love with it for the past five months and since the two of them make me happy, the collection of songs included are a mixture of pick-me-ups and gorgeous ballads. I previously mentioned that I have been allowing myself all kinds of music lately and something very beautiful has come out of it but in a form of a list of songs. I guess you could say it’s like my alter ego.

I swear I’m not high whenever I listen to music, actually I’ve never been high but I feel the more I try to explain, I look and probably sound more like someone who enjoys weed but nope. I’m just weird I guess! I love when music is airy and simple, I always have, but this is definitely doing something absolutely different for me. I have always wanted to create the “perfect” playlist for decades and I’ve had great attempts in the past, but this one instantly awakens me mentally, physically, spiritually. I’m forever glad that I let myself dive deeper in the hole because I’ve never been happier.

Have you been successful at creating–in your mind–the perfect playlist before? What have you been listening to this month?

snowflake

Book Review: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai & Patricia McCormick

Howdy!

I think three days after I finished writing my reveiw on “Throne Of Glass” by Sarah J. Maas, I went exploring on Amazon’s free ebooks. After about a hour later of scrolling through the many pages, I found two books: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick and Explicit by Roxy Sloane. A little mix of biographical and erotica; two of my favorite subjects! Although I was more excited about this book compared to the other, but once I finished Malala’s book, I was able to shifted my direction to Roxy’s and I finally found balance again.

The book isn’t as different as I originally thought it would be. If you’re familiar with her first book, which came out almost immediately after she and her family came to the United Kingdom in 2012. At the time of this release, she had only written two books. This is the young reader’s edition and it has another author aiding her to continue spreading her story around the world. I have no idea if she has written any more books recently, so I apologize for that bit of information.


52670864._SY475_I Am Malala is the memoir of a remarkable teenage girl who risked her life for the right to go to school. Raised in a changing Pakistan by an enlightened father from a poor background and a beautiful, illiterate mother from a political family, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes.

I Am Malala tells her story of bravery and determination in the face of extremism, detailing the daily challenges of growing up in a world transformed by terror. Written for her peers with critically acclaimed author Patricia McCormick, this important book is about the value of speaking out against intolerance and hate. Its a message of hope from one girl who dreams of education for every girl in every country.

taken from Goodreads


Since I finished reading “Women Of Scotland” in mid-March, I have been craving nothing but more stories of women all over the world, and I’m not only reading about them, I have been watching various documentaries about women’s lives. I want to try to imagine their hardships but their favorite things as well.

When I saw it on the feed, I was so excited, I literally shouted “YES!” after I clicked check out or whatever. I started on it rather quickly, but I only knew about 1% of Malala’s life. She was the Pakistani girl who was fighting for little girls and women like her to go to school. That’s it. I remember hearing about her on the news but that’s all I was able to hear and/or see about her and honestly, I feel pretty embarrassed that is all I knew up until I started reading this book.

I never imagined her life revolving around her family, her father especially, who is mentioned almost as much as Malala. She really holds him responsible for the drive to campaign against their own country, Pakistan, to allow their mothers, sisters, aunts, and wives go to school and educate themselves more on various subjects. They became targets of the Taliban, as they were the ones saying that women should be taking care of their families and living their lives more in an Islamic way. Wives and mothers should wear burkas, which are black clothes around their bodies from head to toe, to cover everything from the public. And little girls shouldn’t go to school, because once they hit the age of 12, they will be married to someone who could be ten times older than them and she would lose every part of her and have to care for the offspring of the match.

I have known about child marriages for a long, long time. As someone who is obsessed with learning about the 14th onward to 17th century, child marriages were common place in every sort of life. It didn’t matter if you were poor or rich, if you wanted to make ties bind or stronger, or else want money, daughters in ages of two towards eighteen were basically sold over to that person or family.

What gets me is that it is still taking place, I mean there are “arranged marriages” but nobody until the age of 13 needs to leave their family, school, etc to become someone’s wife and produce children at this point in their lives. My position on this subject isn’t just directed towards the women, you have to think if this is happening to young girls, there’s a chance that there young “men” who could be pulled into this lifestyle as well. Everyone is involved when it comes to money and possessions.

Anyways, back to the book. I find Malala to be a very lucky girl. She has survived at being shot at on a crowded bus, because she was speaking up for not only herself but her friends and the many generations of girls in the future who desperately want to attend school and learn more about the world around them and how they matter in a world at the moment. I think she is lucky that her family is as strong and courageous as she is, they want to fight with her and learn more about themselves too.

I highly recommend you buy this edition or her first book and really get yourself comfortable because it is a bumpy ride but I am so glad I found it and enjoyed expanding my knowledge about her culture a little bit more. I also love Malala for being so brave in her life so far. I hope she continues doing her thing for years to come.

Have you read “I Am Malala” or any other editions yet? What was the biggest thing you learned in her story?

snowflake