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A Classic Remixed: So Many Beginnings

24 Nov

Hi everybody! My name is Nicole Marconi, and I’m the new head of the Access Services department at the Hoboken Library. I previously worked here as a Library Assistant in the Youth Services department and now I’m back after working at the Newark Public Library for a while as their Head of Youth Services.

While I was at the Newark Public Library, I ended up reading a lot of Young Adult fiction and nonfiction. I realized that I’ve been missing out on a lot of amazing literature and wanted to do a deep dive into YA. One of the best books that I came across was a book called So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix. This book was written by Bethany C. Morrow, a prominent author already in her own right. I saw an article about the book and was immediately intrigued. Books that reimagine or reinvent stories that are very well known can be tricky, but this book exceeded any and all expectations for me.

Popular culture has made us very familiar with the March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. The recent movie made by Greta Gerwig reintroduced the story for a new generation that felt refreshing but also stayed close to the source material. With So Many Beginnings, Bethany C. Morrow gives us a fresh perspective on a story that we already know. The original Little Women treats the Civil War as a side character in the main story. In So Many Beginnings, Morrow brings the Civil War and its issues of race and division right up front. The four March sisters know what it’s like first hand to question everything about their own existence, so feeling uneasy in their newfound freedom makes sense. I loved the way that Morrow made the characters so real and relatable. This book is definitely worth a read and a reread for anyone who is a fan of Little Women but also wants to hear another perspective of this beloved story.

So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix is available in print from BCCLS Libraries.

Written by:
Nicole Marconi
Access Services Manager

Bridging Racial Divides: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

3 Mar

I’ve been waiting to read a book like The Vanishing Half for a long time.

As someone who reads a lot of fiction, I’m very fussy about what I read. I’m always looking for a new and interesting way to tell a story, and this book certainly does that. On the surface, the book tells the simple story about a set of twin girls who live in a very small town named Mallard. The town is so small that it doesn’t even officially appear on a map, but we do know that they are in the Deep South. The girls are described as being of African American descent. And both the town they live in and the girl’s mother sees them as such. But when the girls run away from home at sixteen, Desiree continues to be seen as African American while Stella is able to pass herself off as a white woman. The two roads that these women take because of their seemingly differing racial identities lead them on two journeys that are both heartbreaking and wonderful.

I love the way that Brit Bennett frames the way that the girls are treated differently because of how they’re seen, how Stella deals with “passing” as a white woman, and how ultimately, the twins have to come back together in order to move forward. Bennett does a great job of describing what it’s like to have an identical twin sister, and how the Vignes sisters are two halves of a whole.

I think that this is a book that we need right now in 2021. The racial divides that have been haunting our country are stated so clearly in this book. I feel that this book tackles race in a new way that can make people realize just how important it is to talk about race openly and with compassion. As an Asian American woman, I have seen how people in this country have found a way to be even more openly racist towards people like me because of Covid 19 being called the “China disease.” We need literature like this to bring people together and in order to have honest conversations about race.

This book is available at the Hoboken Library through BCCLS in regular print, large print, as a book on CD, and on Playaway. It is also available as digital audiobooks and ebooks from eLibraryNJ and eBCCLS.

Written by:
Nicole Marconi
Library Assistant, Children’s Department

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