Book Club & Cocktails – February 2022
Early 2020, I had the idea to start a book club and somehow, I managed to convince my sister, Hannah, to help me facilitate good conversation and discussion as well as curate interesting and diverse yearly book lists. I had not originally thought this book club would meet over video conferencing but clearly the global pandemic thought otherwise… so we have met once every month since February of 2020! Somewhere along the way, we decided to try a new cocktail each month, so book club evolved into Book Club & Cocktails and between interesting books, delicious cocktails, and too many laughs to count, this book club has a blast while actually engaging in thought-provoking and insightful discourse about books, social issues, and daily life.
As a nod to Valentine’s Day, this past February we read Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola. In this collection of short stories, Babalola rewrites familiar love tales from various cultures with modern characters and themes giving priority to the female voice. In her own words, Babalola set out to “highlight how love and affection are magnificently multidimensional, both universal and deeply personal, their expression as nuanced, diverse, and complicated as humanity itself.” (Love in Color, p. xii)
I found each of her retellings to be interesting, unique, and intriguing. Babalola is a magnificent story- teller and she has the ability to draw the reader into the lives and emotions of her characters quickly (a necessity in the short story format). Her characters were modern and relatable as were the contexts in which she placed them. The female voice was strong and clear in each story making each woman the heroine of her own love story. Individually, I enjoyed these reimagined stories of falling in love.
Collectively I found Babalola’s stories to be repetitive and narrow in scope. Each story featured relatively young and attractive people finding love for the first time. While this is certainly a common love story, I longed for the love story of a single parent, or the middle-aged divorcee. What about elderly people or those who are differently-abled? They fall in love too and the short story format lends itself beautifully to including these kinds of love stories alongside the tales of first-young love and I was disappointed to have them neglected. Additionally, on a number of occasions, Babalola utilized the ‘good-girl fixing the bad-boy’ trope which did not feel like a reimagining or particularly empowering to women.
While I was disappointed in some elements of this collection of short stories, I am pleased to have read it and it was a great pick for Book Club & Cocktails! Everyone had a different favorite story which sparked excellent discussion and kept everyone talking (disagreeing) and laughing for hours!
Read on my friends!
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