Monica’s Musings: The Tradition

The Tradition by Jericho Brown

“Let me be
Another invisible,
Used and forgotten and left
To whatever narrow miseries I make for myself
Without anybody asking
What’s wrong? Concern for my soul offends me….”

― Jericho Brown, The Tradition

Summary: The Tradition is the third collection of poems by Jericho Brown, an American, Louisiana-born, prize-winning poet. This book of poems details the normalization of evil and its history. The variety of poems ranges from political to personal. Fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma are all brought together to make you angry, confused, and self-reflect.

My thoughts: I am not typically a poetry reader, but I felt like I could manage this short collection. While I did enjoy it overall, some poems are a tough read. Politically, this collection is meant to make you angry. No matter where you stand on these topics, Brown is telling from his perspective, which is real and valid. I am not familiar with all of the life experiences detailed in these poems, however, I can respect them and learn from them nonetheless. I encourage all of us as readers to expand our horizons and appreciate works even if they make us uncomfortable.

*This is available as an eAudiobook on Sunflower eLibrary or through interlibrary loan.

Terese’s Thoughts: Priestdaddy

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

First Line: At nineteen, I ought to have been in college with the rest of my high school class, gaining fifteen pounds of knowledge and bursting the sweatpants of my ignorance.

Summary: Lockwood grew up in a big family in the Midwest. Her father is a Catholic priest, a rarity for a married man with children. Both of Lockwood’s parents have their quirks and we get to know them well. Her father is loud and unfiltered, her mother obsessed with looking up tragic events and warning her children of them, both unquestionably loving despite their occasional parenting missteps. Lockwood marries young, having met her future husband on the internet and bonding over a love of poetry. They move away together, but financial strain pushes them back into the rectory with Lockwood’s parents. Eventually, Lockwood becomes famous for a poem she publishes online and receives a book deal. Along the way, Lockwood generously shares many hilarious stories of her childhood, her siblings, and her parents. Being life, there are of course some darker moments as well. 

My Thoughts: I now search for anything Patricia Lockwood has written for the London Review of Books. She is incredibly talented and inventive. She’s also hilarious. For a while, she lived in Lawrence not far from where I was living at the time. I remember when her poem went viral and she was something of a local celebrity. People were very excited, including my step-dad who wanted every detail when I spotted her at a bar downtown. She even describes this period in the book, calling Lawrence a town of “aspiring radicals.” I still can’t decide if it’s a compliment or an insult.

Reading Lockwood is pure delight. I love the way she plays with language and I can tell she does too. I inhaled this book.

Her debut novel No One is Talking About This, published in 2021, has received all kinds of rave reviews and accolades, including being shortlisted for the Booker Prize and landing on the New York Times’ 10 best books of 2021 list. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s definitely on my reading list.

Mom and Me Reviews: A Song About Myself

This is a collection of four poems with the same subject- a “naughty” boy on his travels.

A Song About Myself: Keats, John, Raschka, Chris: 9780763650902: Books
A Song About Myself by John Keats

First Line: “There was a naughty boy,”

Summary: This is a collection of four poems with the same subject- a “naughty” boy on his travels.



3 Stars Is the New 5 stars

                Conor: Zero Attention Given

SleepSomatics Patient Review: Two of Five Stars (Sriharinaidu S., Round  Rock, TX) — Austin's Top-Rated Sleep Lab
Mama Lala

Their Thoughts: “It’s not what I expected.” She suggests you look through the book before checking it out. She didn’t really understand the content.

My Thoughts: I disagree on the intended audience for these poems. Kids don’t talk like this, and they aren’t used to hearing people talk like this either. While it is good to expose them to new things, it is also important to hold their interest. I’d hold out on this picture book until middle school, when they are taught to evaluate their reading more critically.

FYI: This is a poetry book

Happy Reading our friends,

Mama Lala, Maggie, & Conor

Mom and Me Reviews: I Am Every Good Thing

First Line: “I am/ a nonstop ball of energy.”

Summary: This book puts on display a set of inspiring poetry about a group of young black boys. It speaks of their virtues, and insinuates their innocence, kindness, and goodness. Each page reads like its own poem, but they flow together to form a larger piece.


                Maggie: 5 stars (2 – 4 stars after it made her emotional)

                Conor: 5 stars for page 23; 0 cares of all other pages

                Mama Lala: 5 stars

Their Thoughts: Maggie says, “Its like when you go home after a bad day, and you just sit on your bed… and your mom brings a blanket and just holds you. It feels good. Like that.”

Conor: My assumption of what he would say, “the picture on page 24 is pretty! I want to touch it!”

My Thoughts: This book was beautiful and inspirational. It can be (and should be) read both with and without the context of race. These statements and lyrics should be felt by all young people. That said, this book provided an excellent opportunity to discuss race and the issues surrounding race at this time.

I should note, Maggie said this was a 5 star book before I had this conversation with her. After I provided the context of the dedication page, she became emotional. I told her about Trayvon Matin, who was still a child when he’d been attacked. I told her he was about the same age as one of her cousins. This made the tears flow (which made her star count drop).

I explained to her that these conversations are sad and uncomfortable, but important to have.

Happy Reading our friends,

Mama Lala, Maggie, & Conor

Book Review: Believe Me

Believe Me by J.P. Delaney

First line: On the day of departure, guests are requested to vacate their rooms by noon.

Summary: When British acting student, Claire, is struggling for money to pay rent she starts work at a decoy for a law firm in order to entrap straying husbands. However, on her last job the wife ended up dead the next day. In order to find out who the killer is they ask Claire to try to get a confession out of the husband. As she immerses herself into her character, the lines between the act and reality begin to blur.

Highlights: In the second novel by J.P. Delaney we get a twisty psychological thriller. I was certain I had the story figured out. I was wrong. There were so many decoys and little tidbits that make the reader believe one thing when it can mean something completely different. The story was FAST! I could not believe how quickly I read this and how hard it was to put down. I loved being inside Claire’s head even though it got a little troublesome at times. The way she viewed everything as a production was a fun styling choice for the author.

Lowlights: I do not believe there were many lowlights other than the fact that it is not something new or astounding. It is a great read but it is not groundbreaking. Enjoy it but do not look for the next Gone Girl.

FYI: Try Delaney’s first book, The Girl Before.