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Culture Choices 2022: Books

image of shelves of books with a ladder

Culture Choices 2022 is an annual series by Roar’s Culture section in which staff writers select their favourite Albums, Films, Books, and TV shows of the year.

“Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zevin

Winner of the Goodreads Best Fiction Award and named Amazon’s best book of the year, this novel deserves all the attention it is receiving. “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” is a tender story about friendship and connection through the turbulence of life and success. The two protagonists, Sam and Sadie, are childhood friends who reconnect to make video games together. Their first game “Ichigo” is a blockbuster – they drown in success and attention. And so the book spans 30 years over all the good and bad that follows them. At the core of the story is a string of love that never fades, but not in any way a love story you’ve read before. In this beautiful and real exploration of friendship, no character is perfect and no perspective is reliable, all of which make it pleasure to read and delve directly into the lives of these complicated individuals.

In “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”, Zevin touches on disability and escapism from chronic pain. In doing so through a vessel of video games, Zevin encourages creativity and leaves the audience full of hope and understanding. Gripping and gorgeous, this is certainly a fiction book from 2022 that many will find themselves lost in.

“And what is love, in the end?” Alabaster said. “Except the irrational desire to put evolutionary competitiveness aside in order to ease someone else’s journey through life?”

“I’m Glad My Mom Died” by Jennette McCurdy 

Connecting to a distant memory of watching “iCarly” and “Sam and Cat”, McCurdy transports the readers back to that nostalgic time and tells the story of what took place behind the screen when those childhood classics were filmed. The title of this memoir primarily being shocking, McCurdy addresses the relationship she had with her Sysoeva mother. She provides harrowing examples of her experiences being an actress and the role her mother played in the trauma she left the industry with.

Told with some dark humor, “I’m Glad My Mom Died” is at its core a story about pursuing what you want, and the road she takes in order to get there. It chronicles the years of success after Jennette is cast onto iCarly and the influence that spread onto her home life and relationship with her mother. This deep dive into McCurdy’s life evokes vulnerability which so rarely present between actor and audience, allowing the curtain to drop and the readers to truly realise that performers are deeply human too. A really important read, as it is a very acessible and at times funny nonfiction. Even though Jennette McCurdy is viewed as a public figure, her memoir reveals her mundane struggles which many people will find themselves in, making it an important and comforting reading experience. 

“Time Is A Mother” by Ocean Vuong 

Written after the death of his mother, Vuong’s second poetry collection is filled with vivid imagery and raw portrayals of grief. Presenting the dichotomy of dealing with loss, the poems in this collection show the nuances of coping and surviving. Vuong approaches grief and death with a perspective of hope, demonstrating his strength and ability to push through the challenges he is experiencing. “I was made to die but I’m still here”.

His poem “American Legend” painfully describes the relationship Vuong has with his father, describing his need for intimacy and how far he will travel for it – a son crashing a car to get physically closer to his father. His writing style experiments with language and adds a great layer of emotion to the topics, a rhythm that is so prevalent between his words that makes the reader almost breathless through the duration of the poem. Presented with a hint of nostalgia and reminiscing on a childhood that was far from easy, everyone can find something valuable to take from these poems, whether that is simply appreciation for the vulnerable writing or a connection to the emotions Vuong documents.

“I can say that it was gorgeous now, my harm, because it belonged to no one else”. 

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