The Home Stretch

Remember when I said a while ago that this wedding planning ain’t no thang and I almost didn’t want to say it because I didn’t want to jinx it but the process had been fairly simple? Yeah, I jinxed it. We’re 9 days out now and this week has been the most stressful yet. I think also because work has been really busy and I don’t really have time to think about anything but work at work, and then my evenings have been alllll wedding (okay well Monday I went to the Dixie Chicks concert in Hamilton and that was fantastic).

Anyway, VENTING AHEAD!

On Tuesday I heard from our Cuba wedding coordinator (who is in Canada, she’s the liaise between us and the resort until we actually get on the resort) that the resort had accidentally double-booked our wedding date with ANOTHER wedding. IDIOTS.

So, she asked if we could move our wedding from Saturday to Sunday. I was actually shocked that this happened because I was just going on about how I didn’t think this resort had ever hosted a wedding — and then they have two ON THE SAME DAY?! What are the chances??

Well, here’s what happened. We had to change our wedding date shortly after booking everything because the Sunwing flights from Calgary and Vancouver, that my MOH and brother (and others) were on got cancelled and pushed back two/three days. This had my brother Eric and friends arriving on the same day as the wedding, in the evening though, so they would miss it. Eric is walking me down the aisle at the Cuba wedding and he’s also a groomsman so…he’s a very important fixture and needs to be there. You may remember me going on about this a while ago. So we pushed our wedding date back a day, from the Friday to the Saturday. The resort (my Canadian contact) confirmed this was fine, we rebooked the photographer in Varadero, updated all our attendees, and all was well. Except it wasn’t because I guess somehow the resort’s main calendar did not get updated and they still had our wedding date on Friday, leaving the Saturday open which they then booked with another wedding. Ugh.

Pushing the wedding date back another day is not ideal. That will be five days after we arrive, when I initially wanted it three days after we arrived. I feel like we’re not going to be able to truly relax until the wedding happens, and the Toronto group is probably going to be bloated (alcohol and eating too much) and sunburnt AF by then.

But, what can ya do. It’s not really the same as moving a wedding date here because everyone’s already going to be in Cuba and it’s not like they have plans aside from leisuring on the beach for that day. It’s annoying but it is what it is.

Instead of fighting it I just agreed to the date change because I didn’t want the other group to refuse to move and then we have two weddings on the same day, which, the resort is so small they wouldn’t be able to accommodate that and it would be a total shirtshow. I also know it’s difficult for our wedding planner in Canada to communicate with the resort because you know they’re all on island time over there and probably not getting back to her. Moving seemed like the least disastrous option and our wedding is now on the Sunday.

I did express how disappointed I was about the entire thing, because this is the second time our wedding date has been changed due to external (SUNWING!!) factors and I’m generally feeling like we’re the second rate wedding. Which is sad to me because that resort means so much to us and we booked it almost immediately after returning from getting engaged there last year. I spoke with our wedding coordinator though and we’re not getting charged now for a few aspects of the wedding so I guess I’ll take that.

We also had an unexpected issue with family this weekend. I don’t want to get into it on here but it was really upsetting and isn’t resolved, and I’m not sure if it will be resolved before the wedding, so that sucks. And we had Evan’s family over for Easter brunch at the time so unfortunately I was a mess of tears in front of them (it had nothing to do with them and I was glad they were there, but I hate being upset in front of people). Before that happened I was nothing but excited but that has brought a slight damper. But as I’ve been hearing from many people who are already married, is a wedding really a wedding without a bit of family drama?

Apparently it’s not.

As my friend Sherrie helpfully pointed out, it comes in threes, so I’m bracing myself for something else to go wrong. I’m hoping that maybe the flights initially being changed can count as a thing, so then that’s three and we’re done. Oh! Our labels for the wine favours we’re doing for the Toronto wedding were kind of messed up. Vistaprint left a big white strip at the top when they printed them, so Evan had to cut them all with an exacto knofe. But I’m not sure if that’s a big enough problem to count as a thing. They still look great, I think.

I’ve noticed that as the day gets closer I’m more willing to throw money at problems to make them go away. I was super frugal in the beginning but now I ask myself if paying a bit more means I don’t have to do anything. Yes? Then take my money.

And speaking of money, we’ve heard some rumblings along the lines of “why are you having two weddings, that must be so expensive and you could be using that money for something else.” (you probably know if you’ve planned a wedding that everyone has an opinion about YOUR wedding.) So for anyone thinking about having a destination wedding but wanting to have a small family thing at home first, I’ll just say that having two small weddings like we’re doing is actually less than half the price of the average cost of one wedding. It’s budget-friendly!

We’re also keeping our Toronto wedding at around 30 people, which is very difficult to do. It’s nearly all family — I have one close friend who is coming and she is also my witness and will be standing up there with me. We couldn’t invite everyone who couldn’t make it to Cuba and we have some very close friends who unfortunately just won’t be at our wedding at all. But if you open it up at all, where do you draw the line? Family only (almost), this is the way we chose to do it.

As I said to Evan, we only get to get married twice once so we gotta do what feels right to us!!!

Anywhoozle, other than those things everything has been going pretty swimmingly. I’m so glad we have Tracey for the Toronto wedding because she’s definitely taken a lot of stress off us. I don’t know what I would do without her. I was reading the runsheet she put together for the family wedding and she has even scheduled in some alone time for Evan and I after the ceremony, AND she has scheduled for the restaurant to leave h’ors deouvres for us at our table because we’re going to miss them during cocktail hour when we’re getting pictures. I totally swooned when I read that. She is thinking of everything!

Oh and THANK YOU for all your comments about the name change dilemma! I haven’t had time to respond to them all, but I read them all and so appreciated reading about everyone’s stories and thoughts on the subject. I’m pretttttty sure I’m leaning towards changing it. When I think of us having the same family name it makes me feel safe and warm and fuzzy. I think I’m a little sentimental about it.

9 days out, and then 16 days out!!! It’s happening!

And at least if one wedding is a total disaster we have a second chance to get it right.

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Music Monday: 13 Reasons Why

I’ve been watching and loving (although it’s slightly ruining me) 13 Reasons Why — I still have a few episodes left so no spoilers!

It’s so heartbreaking but so good and it covers such a difficult subject so well (so far at least). Man, it makes me glad I’m not in high school anymore. All that teenage drama and angst, no thank you. Just be nice to each other! Also, I love Clay — he kind of reminds me of a younger Evan. He may be shy and awkward now but he’s really going to grow into his catch!

Anyway, as I was watching I noticed that 13 Reasons Why has really great music. A few of the songs have been a staple on my iPhone tunes playlist for years, and a few are new to me and I am just completely loving them. The soundtrack kind of reminds me of a John Hughes movie from the 80s so it’s got a nostalgic vibe. Much Breakfast Club, it’s great.

These aren’t all the songs in the show but at least the ones I thought to check out. I also looked up some of the songs in the later episodes that I haven’t seen yet.

Clicking on any of the songs links will take you to their YouTube video.

Amused – Hunger

24 – Sleigh Bells

Atmosphere – Codeine (Joy Division cover — it’s lovely)

Bye Bye Bye – School of Seven Bells

Cowards Starve – Protomartyr

Doing It To Death – The Kills (digging this one a lot)

Everything Always – Ctznshp

Fascination Street – The Cure

Game of Survival – Ruelle

The Great Longing – Lost Under Heaven (LUH)

In A Black Out – Hamilton, Leithauser & Rotsam

Into The Black – Chromatics (beautiful Neil Young cover!)

Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division (total classic)

Mess Is Mine – Vance Joy (love Vance Joy and love this song)

My life in Rewind – Eagulls

The Night We Met – Lord Huron (what a beautiful song!!! I’m so glad 13 Reasons Why introduced me to it)

Only You – Selena Gomez

Reunion – M83 (this has been one of my favourite songs for a while — it’s been on my iPhone tunes playlist since like 2012 and it’s one of those songs that I’ll never skip if it comes on while my iPod is on shuffle.)

Run Boy Run – Woolkid (I am really loving this song — it totally sounds like a video game promo song and it’s been in a ton of those as well as TV shows and movies. but this is somehow the first time I’ve really noticed it. It makes me wanna go for a run!)

Same Dark Places – JR JR

The Stand – The Alarm

Thirteen – Elliott Smith

Vienna – Ultravox

The Walls Come Down – The Stand

Young & Unafraid – The Moth & The Flame (this one was actually in my first Music Monday playlist a few weeks ago)

Hope you enjoy as much as I am!

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Evan-on or Evanoff?

I still haven’t decided yet if I’m going to take Evan’s last name after we get married.

I keep going back in forth in my decision. I like the idea of taking Evan’s name (Furlanic), but I also like the idea of keeping mine (Evanoff). And I also like the idea of Evan taking my last name so he can officially be Evan Evanoff — that definitely has the best ring to it. Evan says that we should both change our last name’s to Evanon, haha.

It’s a big conundrum. I still really don’t know so I’m just going to go through some arguments. Maybe typing this out will make me come to a realization.

First of all, I like that I have the choice. I don’t have to take his last name. Sure it’s “tradition” but many brides these days keep their maiden name. Evan is pretty indifferent and says the decision is mine and he’s supportive no matter what I choose, which is great because I have heard stories of men being upset when their wives didn’t take their last name.

I like to think that I’m a feminist, so does taking Evan’s name make me less of one? Although, feminism is just having the same opportunities and choices as men, and again, I have a choice. So I don’t think I would choose to not take his last name just because I’m taking a feminist stand. That’s not a strong enough argument for me. I can still be a feminist and take his name, it’s my choice!

Always and forever.

Pronunciation-wise and weird-sounding-wise, our last name’s are kind of on the same page. It’s not like I would be going from Evanoff to a simpler last name like Smith or Jones or something. Whichever name I have people will still ask me where it originated from (although if I take Evan’s name they might stop assuming I’m Russian). I think our names are on the same page in uniqueness also, so I like that. I like that I wouldn’t be going from something unique to something common. I don’t know any other Evanoff’s and I don’t know any other Furlanic’s.

Hyphenating our last names is out of the question. My name is already quite a mouthful — Lindsey-anne Elizabeth. Can you imagine Lindsey-anne Elizabeth Evanoff-Furlanic? Gah! No. I thought about dropping my middle name and putting my last name in there instead and then taking Evan’s last name as mine, but my grandmother’s name was Elizabeth (my mom’s mom) so I want to keep it. So, there will be no keeping both.

Yes, I’m proud of my identity. Of course! But, I’m not overly attached to my last name — it’s only been a family name for a couple generations. My grandfather (my papa, Nana’s husband) changed our last name from Dimitroff to Evanoff when he came to Canada from Bulgaria because he wanted our last name to sound “less foreign” (pretty sure he should have just dropped the ‘off’ altogether if that was his goal, but anyway). But my Nana’s last name is Evanoff, my dad’s last name is Evanoff, and I’ve always liked being an Evanoff. Though at least if I change it my brother will still be an Evanoff so I’m not the end of the line!

At the same time, everyone knows me as Lindsey Evanoff. Many of my friends just call me Evanoff (which gets confusing sometimes because when they start saying my name Evan will assume they’re talking to him). Most of my friends will probably still just call me Evanoff though. Or Jug-jugs. It’s not like I’m totally erasing my identity.

I’ve been surprised when some of my childhood friends got married and immediately changed their names, but I don’t know why! Many of them were planning on doing that for years. I know some people dream of bring a Mrs. In my head though I will always associate them with their maiden names.

Professionally I don’t think it will harm me to change my name. Sure, I’m known in my field as me, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Although it will be annoying for people at work to have to remember to call me a different name all of a sudden (and annoying to change my email). I thought about having two names, legally changing my name to Evan’s but keeping my own last name professionally, but that seems like it would get real confusing real quick.

I like that the name Evan, which is an important name in my family, will always be a part of me because of Evan. So it’s not like I’m losing that. I guess you can look at it like I’ll be Mrs. Evan Furlanic and then I’m sort of keeping part of my name!

If we have kids, I like the idea of us all having the same last name. Like we’re a solid family unit. Not that people who have parents with different last names are less of a family, but you know.

I like the idea of having the same name as my kids. I also like that for traveling and whatnot it would be clear I’m their mom because I share their name. Also, less questions and less explaining about our relationship in general. Same name is clearly husband and wife. That and the kid thing might be the biggest argument in favour of changing my name.

I don’t like that it is SUCH a hassle with endless paperwork to change your name. I’m lazy and that seems like it’s a serious headache-inducing task. The time consuming maze of paperwork is a big argument to not change my name.

Or maybe we could both change our last name’s to something like…Furlanoff.

Agh, I know it comes down to personal preference. Do what you feel. Do what’s right for you. But I still don’t know!!! I think after reading this I might be leaning towards changing it… Or not changing it? Ahh I just don’t know!

Married friends, did you change your name? Why or why not? I could use some insight!

I also really like my signature and wouldn’t be thrilled about having to change it!

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Wedding and More Wedding

Yowza, last week really got away from me. I don’t know what happened but it felt like it was about 10 minutes long. I meant to write a post several times and then by the time I got around to it I was like ehhh. Bed. I’m trying to be in bed by 9:30, asleep by 10-10:30 these days since I’m getting up at 6am (5am if I’m going to Orangetheory before work), so by the time I get home, have dinner and do the typical evening errands and then any wedding stuff I need to look at, I don’t have a lot of time for blog stuff. I’d like to say I’m going to be more consistent with posting but I think this is going to be an April theme, unfortunately. It’s busy times. The wedding is really coming up now and things are happening!!!

Speaking of, I said I’d pop in for a wedding update so here we are! The biggest news on the wedding front is we now have a wedding planner for the Toronto wedding! We initially did not hire a wedding planner or day-of coordinator because it’s a very small wedding and the entire thing is hosted at a restaurant so we didn’t think it was necessary. Plus it’s a low key brunch and we’re not having a dance so there’s no DJ or anything. So, minimal vendors, minimal details. I figured we’d be okay to do it ourselves (our Cuba wedding package does come with a coordinator, thankfully).

However, my friend Tracey recently left her job as an event planner at the Royal York (a fancy hotel downtown Toronto) to go off on her own as an event planner, which is amazing for her. Tracey and I met when I was planning some events for work at the Royal York and she was my contact for all things event-related. She was so amazingly helpful and I could not have done those events without her. She is incredibly organized, on-the-ball, and just overall fantastic. We totally hit it off and had many “planning” lunches (which also included wine and giant cheese platters — maybe another reason why she was my favourite event planner of all time) when we were working together. When I found out she started her own event planning business I recommended her as a day-of coordinator to two of my friends who are also getting married this year, and they are both now using her (and love her). She reached out to me recently and told me she was so appreciative of that business that she would love to help us out with our wedding, which was so awesome of her! So, short story long, here we are. We got a planner!

I need to watch Father of the Bride again, it’s been too long.

When I first told Evan about Tracey wanting to step in he was all “but we’ve pretty much already done everything, is she going to be bored?” I was concerned about this as well, as I felt like I had done a lot (even had my own day-of rundown complete!), so I mentioned it and her response was basically “you’re funny, there is going to be so much to do!”

Then we had her over one night (the same night as Bonnie’s poop explosion —  luckily she has cats and understands), and by the time she left Evan was all “What would we do without Tracey?! Why were we trying to do all of this ourselves???” I don’t know! She brought up a lot of stuff we hadn’t thought about. She helped us source a photo permit for our first look location (it’s a private park so it’s necessary — I didn’t even think of this!), she is now the point of contact for the restaurant and all our vendors (photographer, hair/makeup, officiant, etc.), and she’s even driving me to the first look location. Her revised day-of runsheet is the most detailed thing I’ve ever seen. She lists absolutely every single detail we’ll need to know on the day of the wedding, it’s wonderful.

Also, she’s a bit pushier than I am (I mean that in the best way possible) so she is better dealing with the venue than I am. If they tell me we can’t do something I’m all “oh okay,” but Tracey’s all “THE BRIDE GETS WHAT THE BRIDE WANTS.” so that’s working out well. Basically she’s already been invaluable and the wedding hasn’t even happened yet. I’m so, so glad we have her. She’s just getting her website up and running so once she does I’ll link to that in case any GTA brides are looking for some help. Everyone needs a Tracey!

In other wedding news, I had my final dress fitting on Wednesday evening and it went swimmingly! I didn’t need a lot of alterations, basically just adding a bustle to my Cuba wedding dress and bringing the length up on both dresses. I also got my seamstress to add cups to the Cuba dress as my nungas were just doing their own thing in there. As they do. They’re like freakin’ liquid, if there’s even a tiny nook or cranny for them to squeeze into, they’re going there. They like to throw a wrench into my plans. I also think it’s because I’ve lost a bit of weight/rearranged some things due to Orangetheory and my chest went first. That’s always how it goes — chest is first to gain, first to lose. Everything fit great though, I wish I could show you a picture! But ya gotta wait.

A few weekends ago I got together with most of my bridesmaids (minus Lisa, my MOH, who lives in Calgary, and Dawn who had the flu) and we had a DIY Cuba hair and makeup night. We’ll be doing our own down there so we figured we should practice to make sure we know what we’re doing. It was also a good excuse to get together and drink and hang out.

It was an all hands on deck sort of situation when it came to hair.

Sherrie did mine and she nailed it.

Look at that updo! That looks profesh! I’m so happy with it!!! (I’ll use brown bobby pins the day of, not black)

The only thing I’m getting her to change is the hairspray she used on the teased part of my hair on the top — my hair is so fine that if I use hairspray that is too stiff you can see every single stringy strand. I need a hairspray that allows a bit more movement up there. Otherwise, I loved.

I also did my own makeup for a trial.

I had a few glasses of wine by that point but I feel like I made myself look pretty decent. I think I’ll go less black eyeliner on the top though, Cuba might require more of a natural look.

We had such a fun night! Emily hosted and she got us all little gift bags filled with fun things and afterwards we played Girl Talk, which was a total blast from the past. I’ve definitely detailed one of my Girl Talk stories on the blog before…

The other update is I found an AMAZING jeweller downtown at Yonge and College — Aram from Strada Jewellery.

I needed to get my ring taken down a size. When I first wore it in Cuba my ring fit perfectly but I think my fingers must have been more sausage-like than usual due to the heat/humidity because it’s been annoyingly loose all winter. It spins around a lot and I feel like it’s going to fall off. I’ve been putting off taking it in to get resized because I thought it would need to be sent away, but Aram did it in about 20 minutes and he let me watch the entire process which was super interesting.

He also cleaned my ring so well it looked better than I can ever remember it looking, even when it was new.

So sparkly. Of course this was a couple weeks ago and it’s dirty again already.

Anyway, if you are ever looking for a jeweller in Toronto go see Aram! It was the best experience.

There are some other things going on but this is getting quite lengthy so, ’til next time!

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Friday Wrap Up

In exactly one month we’ll be officially married!!!

And in exactly one month and one day we’ll be flying to Cuba with all our friends to do it all again! I have some wedding-related things to talk about so I’m gonna pop in next week with an update.

I’ve been at my new job for officially two weeks now and I am loving it. It just feels like a good fit. My last few roles have left me feeling like maybe it was time to get out of the communications field altogether, but I think this one is rejuvenating me. It feels good to be excited about work again! Something that I’m really loving about the office in general is the autonomy — everyone is trusted to be an expert in their field and to go forth and do their thing. That is important, motivating, and I find it refreshing.

In cat news, we’ve had a big breakthrough with Bonnie over the last three weeks or so.

She’s a muffin.

For Bonnie’s first two months here she lived in the guest room — even after we opened the door and removed the barrier, she still preferred to just chill in there. Tilly would go in and harass her (because Tilly’s a bully), but she would stay put. Even when we brought her out to the living room where we were, she would just slink back to the guest room.

One day a few weeks ago I was sitting at our kitchen table eating sausages for lunch and Bonnie just randomly came out of the guest room, jumped up on the kitchen table, stole half a sausage off my plate and ran away with it. I was shocked! I was so surprised that it took me a minute to process what had happened so by the time I found her she had pretty much eaten the entire sausage. She can do a lot of damage with that one tooth of hers!

This was when we discovered how much Bonnie likes human food. She is OBSESSED. That night she went after Evan’s ice cream.

She wants to eat everything. Which is funny because Tilly doesn’t like anything other than cat food and cat treats, but Bonnie does not even look at dry cat food like its food (she only eats wet because of the one tooth).

Anyway, since that day Bonnie lives out in our main living area, mainly on the back of the couch. I’m thinking the human food was a big motivator. Tilly still harasses her, 0f course. It’s like she has lost interest in all her toys and just wants to watch Bonnie all day. She just cannot let Bonnie simply EXIST. It’s annoying but it’s slowly getting better. Everyone was right when they commented saying that the cats will learn to coexist, you just have to give them time. Here they are together helping me put away groceries.

What a big bully face in that bag.

And then there was Tuesday.

Tuesday I came home from work and I don’t know WTF happened but Bonnie had a poopsplosion at some point during the day. There was cat crap everywhere — all over the floor, all over the couch, on a living room chair, on the office chair, all over our bed, all over our guest bed, even in the bathtub!!! It was a literal shitshow. It was like she had an explosive poop situation and Tilly chased her all over the house while it was happening and she was trying to jump on every surface to get away from her. That’s my theory. Spending two hours cleaning up cat shit was not exactly my ideal night but what can ya do. The joys of pet ownership. It’s not my first time cleaning up a cat poop explosion (Winnie had some issues right before she was diagnosed with her kidney disease) and I’m sure it won’t be the last. She seems to be back to normal now, thankfully.

So, because of the poop situation we had a professional come clean our couch last night — Mario’s Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning, if you are in the GTA and need a couch or carpet cleaner. He is THE BEST. We’ve used him before and he cleaned our couch so well it was like it was new, And he’s super reasonably priced. I can’t recommend him enough. Evan actually found him a few years ago the day I moved into the condo — Evan was driving with my couch (which needed cleaning badly) in the back of his truck when he happened to pull up behind Mario on the highway, who had his number and info on his van. Evan called him right there and Mario followed him to the condo and cleaned the couch as soon as we unloaded it into the living room. Pretty handy. Anyway, the poop is gone, the couch is like new, and we found about 30 cat toys under it when we moved it to clean it so Tilly is excited about that. Wins all around.

And that’s pretty much what’s been going on this week. Have a great weekend!

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Black History Month Reading

I mentioned in my last books post that in honour of Black History Month in February I was reading books written by a POC or about the black experience. It took a while for my holds from the library to be available (and I still have a bunch of holds so I’ll be reading more of these types of books for a while — I don’t mind!) so I only ended up getting through three in February. All were fantastic. Here they are.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Synopsis:

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

This book was incredible, but also horrific. I have obviously read about slavery in the past but every time it hits me anew how horribly these people were treated. It is deeply saddening and disgusting. It makes me so angry that white people thought it was okay to discriminate against people who looked different than them. It’s beyond words awful and, being of British descent (somewhere over on my mother’s side), it makes me feel ashamed.

This book really drove home the point of how slavery and oppression and segregation has affected black people for hundreds of years, and how it still is. It will stay with me for a long time to come. And it was so well written — everyone needs to read it!

My only complaint is that you don’t get to spend a lot of time with each character. Every chapter is about someone new, a descendent of Effia, then a descendent of Esi, repeat, and I got so attached to some of the earlier characters that I could have read an entire book about just them! It moves on quickly, but it’s also pretty long, so I don’t think the author could have fit anymore in. I also enjoyed how the author made the characters imperfect, as they would be, for example in the more recent years the novel spanned, the addict who abandoned his children. People aren’t perfect. They weren’t all necessarily good people, they were absolutely flawed, but they didn’t deserve their circumstances.

It’s a stunning novel and I absolutely loved it. It was a perfect Black History Month read.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways.

This was the next book that became available on my library holds list and it wasn’t the first book I wanted to read by Chimamanda, but it was her first so I guess it worked out. I really enjoyed it and had a hard time putting it down. I loved Kambili and was so heartbroken for her. Her father was an abusive POS and I wanted to reach into the book and slap him across his smug face. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Kambili and her brother (and her mother) living under his rule, for pleasing him to be their only goal in life. Awful.

I don’t think the synopsis does it justice at all — it’s beautifully written and an incredibly moving and intriguing story with a lot of depth. I loved it.

I also loved learning a bit about the Nigerian culture — the Igbo language, politics, religion and cuisine. One of my former coworkers turned friends (and the woman who is making our wedding cake!) is from Uganda and she would always bring in these dishes for lunch that had a savoury sauce made from groundnuts — usually over plantains or chicken. She explained to me that groundnuts were sort of like peanuts, but had a bit of a different taste. I loved it so much that a couple of times she actually made me a dish to bring home for dinner! In both this book and the next book I read (by the same author) those groundnuts were prominent. I didn’t realize how much of a staple they were in African cuisine. It also made me wish there were more African restaurants in Toronto, beyond the trendy Ethiopian and Eritrean ones.

Anyway, I highly recommend. I couldn’t put it down.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.

Another absolutely incredible read. I don’t know how I can even begin to review it because there is so much depth to this novel and there is a large cast of memorable characters. I loved Ifemelu and Obinze, together and apart, and I loved Ifemelu’s blog posts that would pop up from time to time. I could fully picture Ifemelu, she had so much substance and her character development was one of the strongest I’ve ever read in a book. She was a real person to me and I feel like I want to know her in real life!

What I found the most interesting was Ifemelu’s thoughts about race after she moved to America, specifically that she had never really thought about it, she never had to. She never thought of herself as “black” until she moved to America, because that was the label Americans gave her.

It’s an amazing read and I highly recommend.

I loved reading books written by people who have had much different life experiences than I did, growing up sheltered in a bubble in the middle of nowhere. I cringe when I think of the person I was before college, and before I moved to the city, when I met people who were different than me. I think it’s important to hear and learn about the various experiences of other people, so that we can try to understand them. This really inspired me to branch out from my usual, and I want to keep that up in the future!

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