Book Review

Book Review: I Hope You Fall In Love

The well-known quote of not judging a book by its cover unequivocally applies to I Hope You Fall in Love. A collection of poetry and prose written by R YS Pérez, this book is not the lovey-dovey schmaltz that the cover would initially lead you to believe.

Pérez dedicates the book to “those who love hard and those who are afraid to.” In her introduction, she notes that she has a problem when it comes to writing: “I only seem to write when I am falling in love or falling apart.” She then brilliantly notes that, “…writing is all about divergent thinking colliding with a hurricane of emotions.” She makes another analogy to love as weather when she writes, “Love no longer becomes a feeling – it becomes a storm.” Love is as unpredictable and powerful as the weather. We try to make sense of the weather, why not try to make sense of love— and that is what Pérez is doing in I Hope You Fall in Love.

Throughout the book there are brief, but notable, one paragraph diary entries. The most outstanding was dated 6 October 2016 (Pérez writes the date as it would appear in Spanish, where the day is written first and not the month as in American English):

“My sister asked me “Do you love someone all the time?”’ And it was one of those moments when I realized I could say something profound. So, I took a deep breath, thought about it. No, I said, sometimes you’ll want to strangle them more than you love them. But then it passes, and you’ll love them even more.”

Absolute truth! When you truly love someone, they can drive you mad. As Olympia Dukakis’ Rose said to Cher’s Loretta in the classic film, Moonstruck, “When you love ’em, they drive you crazy. ‘Cause they know they can.”

Pérez’s exploration of love is not just limited to romantic love. She explores the love of family (even writing to an unborn, future daughter), connecting with your roots as well as love of country.

“My family is like America; we are blend of melanin and uncertain borders.”

“My family is like America; a country of tolerance, and so many other things all at once. A beautiful mess of so many complexities. My family is like America; or at least the America I would like to be in.”

Pérez also bravely bears out her insecurities in the section of prose titled “The Color Brown.”

“I wanted to embody what I loved about my favorite colors, to be bright and lovely.”

Later in the poem titled, “My Skin: Take Pride in It”, Pérez takes on whitewashing via self-exploration:

“The color of the surface of my skin

tinted like windows,

mocking the sun,

creating artificial nightfall creeping across

my skin.”

“You dread because you want to rid yourself of the ancestral bond…”

Ultimately, in spite of what she detailed in “The Color Brown”, Pérez accepts who she is in “My Skin: Take Pride in It”,

“But I could never find myself

to be ashamed

of my beautiful cinnamon brown

skin.”

I Hope You Fall in Love is Pérez’s first book (she is one to watch). At times, it feels a bit all of the place while concurrently feeling cohesive—and that is its genius! It brilliantly captures the wide-ranging feelings love can provoke in a very personal, but relatable way. I Hope You Fall in Love really stayed with me in that it got me to thinking about past romantic relationships, my relationships with friends, family and deceased loved ones for several days after I completed it.

Going back to my initial feelings on the cover, I was absolutely wrong about its simplicity. Like the book, there is a great deal of complexity in the cover. Love, like the web-like suspension cables of the Brooklyn Bridge, can be confusing, but when properly anchored, can hold you up.

 

Ms. Pérez’s web site is https://www.rebeccaysperez.com/ .

Ms. Pérez can also be found on Good Reads at https://www.goodreads.com/Becks-TheStoryBookGirl

 

I hope you fall in love cover e

Posing with my copy.

 

 

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The Book Cover for "Not So Frequently Asked Questions: Common Questions, Uncommonly Asked"

Two Helpful Guys, Twenty Questions and One Very Helpful Book

“How do you pick the next book you will read?”

This is one of the questions found in the first book published by popular bloggers Steven Farquharson and Leroy Milton (commonly known as 2HelpfulGuys) titled Not So Frequently Asked Questions: Common Questions, Uncommonly Asked.

How is it that I came to read this book?

Somewhat disappointed with social media, I was looking for a way to connect with others around the globe interested in more than headlines and sound bites. I craved semi-anonymous, but stimulating, conversation that didn’t descend into vitriol and the nasty name-calling that can be ubiquitous on social media. Rather belatedly, I discovered blogging and found individuals sharing concise, thoughtful ideas and exchanges. More importantly, these ideas were coming from independent thinkers that were not associated with big brother media companies. I launched my own blog in January 2014, which led to more connections, including 2HelpfulGuys. The overview of 2HelpfulGuys states:

“Our goal is to impact the world in whatever small way possible through our blog and YouTube videos. If we can impact one person’s life positively, we would consider ourselves incredibly successful.”

Interestingly, I was following the blog for some time before I read any sort of biography on Farquharson and Milton. I was slightly surprised to learn that they were college students because their entries are very insightful. 2HelpfulGuys prove that wisdom and humanity are not always fostered by age. The greatest strength of the 2HelpfulGuys blog is how remarkably personable it is: it feels as if you are conversing with two longtime friends. The book is an extension of the blog’s genial nature.

“What started as two guys just trying to help people is quickly becoming a community of supportive peers helping each other.”

Just before I purchased Not So Frequently Asked Questions: Common Questions, Uncommonly Asked, I discovered the 2HelpfulGuys YouTube channel and saw a video on disconnecting from technology that conveyed, “technology should be a tool and not a crutch.” Inspired by this, I decided to purchase a hard copy of the book instead of the Kindle version.

The book cover was clearly inspired by the For Dummies books. Like the For Dummies books, the prose is simple and direct. Unlike those books, the prose is beautifully soulful.

Each chapter represents one question from individuals who have connected with 2HelpfulGuys via their blog. There are twenty questions and a conclusion. The question topics had great variety:

“What made you guys want to start this website?”

“How can I get my teenagers to listen?”

“How do you overcome homesickness whilst at university?”

Perhaps the most engaging questions were those that were more universal:

“How do I stop worrying?”

“How do I share my feelings with other people?”

“I’m too depressed to get out of bed. What do I do?”

“What is forgiveness?”

My sole criticism of this book is that Farquharson and Milton should have answered more of the questions jointly: it was Farquharson OR Milton instead of Farquharson AND Milton. Take the question “What is forgiveness?” Farquharson answered it and while he gave a really thoughtful response, I would have liked to have also read a response from Milton. In another question, Milton notes that he had a “traumatic past in bullying and grew up in a somewhat broken family.” His insights on forgiveness would have likely taken an approach distinguished from Farquharson. Similarly, Milton answers, “How do I eat healthier?” Farquharson had noted in another question that he had a blood disorder, so his insights on this question would have been rather valuable.

In response to the question “What made you guys want to start this website?” the 2HelpfulGuys note that, “we have no idea how long this going to last. We plan on riding this out for the long haul…” I hope you both do this for this long haul, together. While the Internet and technology has connected us, it is congruently disconnecting us. Farquharson and Milton, whether on-line or in print, are the human touch this over-processed modern world desperately needs.

Edwin Roman reads

Edwin Roman reads “Not So Frequently Asked Questions: Common Questions, Uncommonly Asked.”