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Practicing Self Care

When you hear the word “self – care”, the first thing that comes to mind is probably getting a massage with a face mask on or lying lazily in sweatpants while you read a new book or listen to some music with a cup of tea by your side. Those are pretty nice ways to enjoy yourself but self care means taking care of yourself and making efforts to be healthy in all aspects of your life.

Self care is important because it helps to build balance and improve a person’s overall health and wellness. With how bad things can be sometimes, it is only right that we enjoy life at the very least and self care is all about that and more.

Self care can be difficult because it requires a lot of effort. Sometimes, you may feel like you don’t deserve “nice things” but there is nothing bad or selfish about making efforts to restore your own energy and thinking about yourself.

When practicing self care, it is important to remember that the little things matter the most. Its amazing how these little things can help in big, amazing ways.

The Six Types Of Self Care

  • Physical Self – Care – involves improving your body’s wellbeing and physical health.
  • Emotional Self – Care – involves connecting with your emotions and coming up with the best ways to process them and work through them. It’s about checking in with yourself and the things you feel.
  • Spiritual Self – Care – may involve religion for some and may not for others. The goal with spiritual self care is inner peace and the right headspace to find purpose and meaning in existence.
  • Financial Self – Care – involves our approach to our money and finances. It is important to stay on top of your money to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  • Mental Self – Care – involves nourishing the mind and intellect while expanding what a person regards as knowledge.
  • Social Self – Care – involves taking care of the relationships you have with people in your life and creating new ones as well.

20 Little Self Care Tips

  • Go for a walk
  • Excercise
  • Watch your favorite movie or something you’ve never seen before
  • Journal
  • Read a book that’s stayed too long on your shelf
  • Meditate
  • Practice gratitude. Create daily gratitude lists to help focus on the good things.
  • Take a nap
  • Listen to music
  • Breathe
  • Stretch
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Drink water
  • Try a DIY project
  • Make a dessert
  • Write a love letter to yourself
  • Draw and paint, even if you suck at it
  • Play a game
  • Unplug for an hour
  • Watch the sunset

Do things that make you feel good. You don’t have to fix everything at once. Sometimes, a small step could be just what you need to feel better. As long as you’re making yourself a priority, you’re well on your way to effectively practicing self care.

What A Day

Golden threads of sunlight seep in through the window. I blink, shifting my gaze to the dancing curtains. A new day has begun. Sounds of life from below my apartment building fill the air. Three hours ago, the world was quiet. It was easier to think then.

In the bathroom, I stare at my reflection in the mirror. My hair is tousled and dark circles outline my eyes. There are nail scratches on my cheek. They’re not obvious and they don’t hurt but I put some ointment on them after my shower.

After dressing up, I check my phone. There’s a message from my sister, Kira- reminding me of a meeting with her boyfriend, Mike today. I ignore it. There’s a second message from my boss.

“Hey, Kade. How are you feeling? When should we expect you back at work?”

I frown and toss the phone aside. My father died two weeks ago. I took a break from work, and my boss is already asking when I’m coming back. I should quit, but that would be the third job in two years and I fear employers will see my unwillingness to stay in a place that doesn’t favor me as a lack of commitment.

I grab a jacket and leave the bedroom. My living room is a bit hot and it takes me a while to remember why.

I didn’t put out the fire in the fireplace.

On the poorly carved mantel is a picture of Kira and me in London. It was taken by her father, while our mother yelled at me to smile. My face is straight but Kira grins widely. 

The radiant glow in the fireplace distracts me, so I put out the fire.

My morning routine is simple. I make some orange juice in the apartment and buy two hotdogs down the street. They’re for Joe, a 45-year-old man who looks like he’s 60.

Joe is sitting in front of my favorite cafe when I arrive, his eyes following random people. His face is dirty and my nose twitches at his stench but I smile regardless.

“Kade!”, he grins upon seeing me, “how’d the date go last night?”

I shrug, “same old thing. I’ve given up on love”

He laughs as I hand him the hotdogs and juice, “thank you boy”, he says, “you’re too kind to me”

I grin, “I’m going to grab a snack. I’ll be back”

He opens the juice and drinks, nodding without looking at me. 

My stomach rumbles with delight when I walk into the cafe. There’s a queue so I distract myself with the news on a small television. A man was killed yesterday on the 5 pm train coming back to town. The police have no idea how it happened.

Just when it’s my turn to order, a loud shriek interrupts me. I turn to see people gathering around the entrance to the cafe. It takes a few seconds to push myself through the crowd. Outside, lying on the floor is Joe- his pupils, drawn back behind his eyelids and blood flowing out of his mouth.

“Somebody help him!”, a woman screams but nobody moves- not even me.

An image of my father flashes through my mind.

My heart starts to beat erratically.

I turn around and walk away from the cafe quickly.

“Joe…”

My body jolts at the sound of my phone ringing. I take it out of my pocket and pick it up without looking at the caller ID.

“Kade?”

I move into an alleyway and rest my back against the wall, “Kira…”

“Are you okay?”, she asks, “your voice…”

“I’m fine”, I clear my throat, pushing myself off the wall, “it’s just been a rough morning”

“I’m sorry, do you want to cancel?”


“No, I want to meet this guy”

“O-okay”

The image of my father and Joe lingers in my head as I leave the alleyway.

Working out usually helps me clear my head so I go to the gym. A quick power workout and shower help to pass the time so it’s not long before I have to leave to see Mike.

There’s an ambulance in front of the gym when I come out. There seems to be a problem in one of the dressing rooms. I think about Joe again. He was a homeless man with no family. Should I have at least stayed to help?

Kira and Mike live downtown so I take the train by 3 pm. Mike is waiting at the station. I recognize him from pictures Kira sent to me.

Recognition fills his face when he sees me, “Kade!”

I blink. He’s too excited considering we just met. 

“I’m sorry I didn’t make it yesterday”, he says, “I was at work and…”

“Kira explained. It’s fine”, I say as we walk together, “where are we going?”

“I know a good bar”

I nod and switch off my thoughts. I don’t have the mental strength to focus on anything Mike says or does so the next hour with him goes by in a blur.

The 5 pm train back home has less people than it did yesterday. I wonder if it’s because of the murder that happened yesterday. My phone beeps. It’s Kira.

“Mike is on his way home. He said he had fun. Thank you!”

I respond with a heart emoji.

How long until she realizes he isn’t coming home?

I yawn as I walk back into the apartment, pulling out the hidden knife in my jacket and tossing it into the kitchen sink. Blood splatters all over the metal. Killing Mike would have been even more fun if the idiot had shown up yesterday. At least, the man on the train back was entertaining.

I wash the knife and keep it with the others. Then I pour the rest of the poison I put in Joe’s juice down the drain. 

Before taking a shower, I inspect the fireplace. A silver glint catches my eye. I clear out the ash and bones.

It’s a diamond necklace.

“Pretty”, I let it dangle from my fingers.

I hadn’t realized my date, Jennifer was wearing a necklace last night while I was dismembering her body to burn. I should take out her bones and whatever is left before i go to bed.

My lips curve into a smile. Pleasure courses through my veins as the sun sets. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

What a day.

Books To Read If You Loved Red, White & Royal Blue

History, huh?

Casey Mcquinston’s debut novel, Red white and royal blue was an amazing read for me. It had just the right amount of romance and humor which we all need a little bit of. The book is set in an alternate reality where the president of the united states is a democrat woman and the story follows her son, Alex Clairemont Diaz, and his “forbidden romance” with Prince Henry of Wales.

Like i’m sure all readers do when we finish a good book, i wanted something with the same “amazing in the moment” type of feeling that this book gave me and so i went on a quest, journeyed through five cities and dark green forests with glassy lakes to find similar stories.

So if you do read and enjoy/enjoyed Red, white and Royal blue, here are some stories you can check out:

HER ROYAL HIGHNESS by Rachel Hawkins.

Millie Quint has a best friend who is sort of also her girlfriend and so it’s no surprise when she decides to apply to boarding schools far away from Houston after being cheated on. Luckily, Millie is accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools in Scotland and her roommate just happens to be the Princess of Scotland whose high class attitude she can barely stand. Well, until they both open new chapters filled with love in each other’s stories. Are the chances of happy ever after after too slim for them?

THE GENTLEMEN’s GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE by Mackenzi Lee

(I added this to the list because it was given five stars by my favorite author, Rick Riordan.)

Monty can never be tamed, even though he was born to be one of the finest gentlemen and was educated in the finest schools in England. He prefers to spend his night with bottles of alcohol and men and women, much to the disappointment of his father who expects him to take over the family’s estate. Monty decides to go on a grand tour of europe to find a life filled with pleasure with his best friend, Percy whom he has a big crush on. When his tour of england turns into a manhunt that takes him across Europe due to a reckless decision, the journey leaves him questioning everything including his relationship with Percy.

CARRY ON by Rainbow Powell

Simon is the chosen one. He probably shouldn’t be the chosen one because he sucks at it, but he is anyway. His life is not so fun either. It’s his last year at the Watford school of magicks, his girlfriend broke up with him, his arch nemesis Baz didn’t show up to school and there’s a magic eating monster who looks just like him running around.

FELIX EVER AFTER by Kacen Callender

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be in love, but just can’t seem to find the right person? Well, that’s the problem for Felix, and he is quite desperate to find it. However, when an anonymous student starts sending him transphobic messages and photos of him before his transition, Felix orchestrates a plan for revenge only to end up in a love triangle.

THE TWO LIVES OF LYDIA BIRD by Josie Silver

Lydia and Freddie had been inseparable for over a decade. That is, until Freddie dies on Lydia’s twenty eighth birthday in a car accident. That must suck.

Lydia would most rather stay inside and float in a pool of her own tears but she knows Freddie would want her to move on and live life happily without him. With the help of his best friend and her sister, Lydia takes the steps she needs to go back into the world, life and maybe even find love again.

But then a chance at her old life with Freddie appears. It should be impossible, she can’t explain it but she is pulled back into her past and begins to live two lives at once. Stuck with making a choice on whether she should return to a world where Freddie is alive and they’re in love or remain in her real life where someone new wants her to stay, Lydia must make a choice.

The A-Z of my Life

Dear you,

Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out where you are and where you’re going- and sometimes, it’s even worse when you realize that where you seem to be going isn’t exactly where you want to be. I think it is always important that we try not to lie to ourselves, about what we think, why we are the way that we are, and who we are in general. This is a reflection list I’ve been compiling for a while now. Tell me what do you think after reading it?

THE A-Z OF MY LIFE

A is for Acceptance and Appreciation

Things do not always go the way we want. Regardless, we must learn to accept them for what they are. I included appreciation right after acceptance because there are times when we are forced to accept what we don’t want to accept, and when we do- it’s often difficult to see that there are other things around us that we should be grateful for, no matter how little they are. Good or bad, all things that cannot be changed must be accepted and whether or not you allow yourself the pleasure (or pain?) of holding hands with your sadness, there is still so much to be appreciative of.

B is for Belief

Believe in yourself. Belief changes minds and sometimes gives strength when there is very little or none. Not everybody will believe in you and so you must have this for yourself as well. Believe in others too, because they may not believe in themselves and you never know if your faith in them is just what they need.

C is for Change

Change is inevitable. The world is living proof of that. We cannot stop the sun from rising and setting as much as we can not stop the seasons from changing and flowers from wilting and dying. We will always be subject to change. We may not always like the type of change that comes, but we must learn to accept it anyway.

D is for Dream

Nothing is too big for you to achieve. As realistic as we must be, it doesn’t hurt to dream. However, remember that dreams are only dreams unless they turn into plans so keep while you keep dreaming, remember to take steps towards achieving those dreams.

E is for Energy

Negativity is poisonous and the world is on the verge of dying from it. It is the poison that seeps in and weakens your energy, so protect it. If the news is too negative for you, turn off your tv or phone and allow yourself to dream a little. You are not wrong for wanting to feel okay when there’s nothing to be okay about.

F is for Family and Friendship

For some reason, I don’t like the popular saying, “no man is an island” but I will admit there’s truth to it. Life is wired in such a way that you’ll always have companions and people to share with. You are given a family at birth to support you and you are given friends that you make throughout your life. Appreciate them, tell them you love them, and if they eat your food, start a pillow fight.

G is for Growth

Your comfort zone may feel nice to be in but it’s really just a box- and if you decide to not come out of the box, you’ll miss all the chances that there are to grow. It’s easy to think that just because we’re comfortable somewhere, there’s nothing else waiting for us out there. Stagnancy is a disease. Learn in time the importance of taking steps to grow.

H is for Healing

I once had an injury that took a lot of time to heal and during this time, it was hard to use that part of my body without feeling pain. When it did heal, it left a scar, and although looking at that scar reminds me of what feeling pain in that spot was like, I can now use that part of my body as well as I could before.

The same applies to you. Healing takes time. You could either let yourself become so accustomed to the pain during this time or you could prepare for the new version of yourself that will come right after. Scars, no matter how ugly they may look are not injuries and you should not let them hurt you the way injury would.

I is for ‘Isolophilia”

I think that words can be beautiful, don’t you think so? Isolophilia is a beautiful word that refers to a strong affection for solitude. I think it just romanticizes being alone. Do not be afraid to spend time with yourself and to love the peace that comes with it.

J is for Journey

Enjoy every step of whatever journey you take. Have fun while you’re at it. Make it a story worth telling.

K is for Kindness

The world is not kind, but you can be to people and most especially- to yourself.

L is for Live, laugh, love

I’ve seen this quote too many times on Instagram for me to cringe every time I come across it. I can’t believe I’m using it, but it passes the message I want. It is important that you do live and in living, don’t forget to laugh and love. Love as deeply as you can and share it as much as you can. Just don’t forget to keep some for you as well.

M is for Music

“Music is the universal language of mankind”, said Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Music speaks when words fail, so listen to some good music, find some new artists, explore different genres, sing along- and if you feel like it, dance alone in your room when nobody’s watching.

N is for Now

It is okay to dream and it is okay to plan towards that dream but you are not there, you are here, and here is now. At this very moment, you are reading these words. No matter what may come tomorrow, or the next or even next year- focus on what is happening now. Enjoy it. Breathe in it.

O is for “Okay”

Remember how important energy is and don’t engage in pointless arguments because they may mess with it. You won’t always be understood and you won’t always understand people. This is okay and if it’s not right now, It’s going to be okay.

P is for “Pain”

Pain, just like change is inevitable. You cannot always escape it, but you can allow yourself to learn from the experience while you heal from it.

Q is for Quiet

Embrace the peace and serenity that comes with quietness. The world is a loud place, but your world doesn’t always have to be. Learn to be quiet as well. You don’t always have to speak or respond. You gain more by listening.

R is for Real

Real-life is scary but indulging in fantasies will leave you feeling stagnant. You cannot grow if you do not learn to navigate real life for yourself.

S is for Self Care

In the midst of everything. Never forget to take breaks and look after yourself. The more you relax, the more energy you have to do more

T is for Time

Time is everything but it can easily be mismanaged just as much as it can be wasted. Don’t put yourself under the pressure of time and feel like you have to rush to get things right. Be patient. Whatever pace you are most comfortable with is the right pace.

U is for Understanding

Make efforts to understand things and people, rather than just riding along on whatever train your feelings place you on. Leave no space for regret.

V is for Validation

You don’t know the people out there in the world, and neither do they know you. Validation from strangers on the internet and even from people in your personal life can feel good- but it is not a good substitute for the pleasure that comes from being you.

W is for Work

You may dream and plan towards your dreams but remember you have to put the work into it. It will get hard and sometimes, you may feel like giving up, but as said before, if you do- all that your dream will be is just a dream.

X is for X-factor

We all have an x-factor i.e a noteworthy quality or talent that makes a person special. Find new hobbies, suck at those new hobbies and then find some more. You may find something that makes you just happy to do it and it may just push you towards a future you never thought you’d have.

Y is for YOLO

Another cringe Instagram quote, but it is absolutely necessary to tell you that unless you’re a vampire- you’re not going to live forever, and if you do reincarnate, it will be as someone else and not you. You only have one life, so enjoy it.

Z is for Zen

According to Wikipedia, Zen is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition rather than ritual worship or study of scriptures. In essence, to have a Zen state of mind is to find peace with things as they are, and not as you would like them to be. Zen brings about relaxation and you can only get it by checking in with yourself mentally. The body is important, but the mind is even more important. Meditate. Take care of it.

A 21st Century Valentine’s Day

When my father met my mother, he was a waiter at a restaurant and she was a customer who choked on seafood. He says it was love at first sight although I’m not sure how that worked.
My mother came from a rich home and with that came lots of suitors proposing with expensive gifts. However, she fell in love with my father, a poor musician who wrote poems and sang love songs for her.


Back then, all a woman wanted was to feel special and all a man had to do was practice chivalry. Instead of just walking around rain puddles, women wanted men to place their jackets over those puddles for them to walk on. RnB music videos were of men expressing their love in the pouring rain because that was what women wanted. They liked grand gestures and men like Bruno Mars who would catch grenades for them.
Growing up amongst parents who were soulmates made me believe this- that a handwritten love letter to a girl I liked was enough to make her feel special.


I had been dating my girlfriend, Fiona for over five months. One fine night in October, after we stumbled upon a shooting star, I told her it was my wish for her to be my girlfriend and she made it come true. I did everything to make her happy since then. I wrote love letters to her, I sent her flowers, I made playlists filled with songs that made me think about her, I sent her messages every morning to remind her of how lucky I felt to have her. She would say I was sweet and the best boyfriend ever, but over time- I noticed she was getting bored.


“Maybe you need to do something different”, my father said when I told him about it. Perhaps, I would have gotten better advice on Reddit or Quora.


I got my perfect idea when Fiona and I went out to eat one afternoon. We passed by a store with a sign that said it was giving out fifty percent discounts on all purchases made before Valentine’s day.


“Oh, I would love that Dior bag”, she said, about a black leather bag being showcased in front of the store.


I had my eyes on the sign. Valentine’s day was approaching, and I was going to make Fiona feel happy to be my girlfriend again.

I planned an evening date in her favorite restaurant and would end it at night with a live band to dance to. I had rented out a whole bar for this.


“And what is her present?”, my mother asked after I told her about my plans.

“The whole day is her present”


She pressed her lips together and shook her head.

“What?”, I asked.


“Nothing”, she replied.


On Valentine’s day, everything was ready for my beautiful girlfriend. I wore nicely ironed pants and a brown coat over my white shirt. She was dressed in a white cotton blouse and a flare red skirt. We went to the restaurant and ate our fill. It all felt very surreal, particularly because Fiona seemed to be enjoying herself. She chuckled at my jokes, she thought the food was tasty and when we danced to the live band, she laughed and swayed to the music.


After we left the restaurant, I drove us to the beach, where we walked and watched the rise and fall of the ocean waves. We got ice cream and went horse riding. By the time it was evening and time to leave, Fiona held my hand and said, “but we haven’t exchanged presents yet”


She opened her purse and took out a small box, handing it over to me. Inside was a dazzling silver wristwatch.


“To replace the one you broke”, she smiled. I grinned, “Thank you!”


I gave her a bouquet of roses and she took them from me slowly, looking in between the petals like something was hiding in them. Then I hugged her before kissing her forehead lightly.


“Happy valentine’s day darling. I hope you enjoyed today. I planned it all as a big present for you”, I said.

She didn’t respond.


The drive home was quiet. The short walk from my car to her gate was even quieter. I was beginning to get the feeling that Fiona was angry with me, although I couldn’t figure out why. Had she not had a good time?


“Is something wrong?”, I touched her shoulder and she jerked away from me, “what did I do?”


She turned and eyed me angrily.

“Fiona, I want to know how you feel”

“You want to know?”, she asked coldly.

“Yes”


Her left eye twitched, the way it always did when she was angry, and then she raised the bouquet and brought it down on my head quickly. It glanced off me awkwardly and I hissed sharply.


“What was that for?”, I asked but she didn’t answer. She just whipped me with the flowers. I could feel the thorns pricking my neck as she did so and the roses flew out of the bouquet and fell on the floor, but Fiona would not stop.


“Hey! Stop!”, I yelled.


“This is how I feel!”, she whipped me, “I wanted the bag! I told you I wanted the bag!”


The bag from the store. I was so stupid. I cussed under my breath.


When she stopped, what was left of the bouquet dropped from her hands, and she shook her head at me as low pants escaped her lips.


“Do not call or text me!”, she spat harshly as she turned around and walked into her house, slamming the gate behind her.


As I stared at the gate, I heard my phone ring and picked up without looking at the caller ID.

“Hey champ!”, my father said, “how was it?”


I sighed, “it’s the 21st century Dad”, I said, “women want Dior bags now”

Through Eyes That Are Not Mine

To whoever is reading this,

This story might seem like a fable and it’s sad to say that I cannot assure you of its certainty. Maybe I’m just crazy and instead of writing this, I should go see a psychologist or get admitted into an asylum- but I need to tell someone. I need to make sure someone who is not me knows this story, and if you’re reading this, you’re the unlucky one.

I’ll start by saying that I love to ski, especially at night. Though I haven’t gone skiing in over a year, I still miss it. I miss the adrenaline rush that came with going down the trail. I miss the wind howling in my ears. I miss the snow, the cold air numbing my skin, and most of all, I miss the beautiful view.

My mother used to nag about how skiing at night is dangerous, for evil things happen when the sky is dark and the world is asleep. I thought she was a bit superstitious so I made sure to keep my nightly visits to the trail a secret from her and my father. What can I say? From the trail, I could see the millions of stars in the night sky and I could bury my head in the silence and be left alone to my thoughts. It became my favorite thing to do in my favorite place on earth, until the day I bumped into Mel.

I knew Mel from school- a short girl with hair so long, it flowed past her shoulders and eyes that were a light shade of brown. She was the only daughter of a doctor who moved in from outside the town and we were not friends.

Now that I think about it, Mel never had friends at the time. She preferred to remain on her own. Some people thought she was weird, with the way she watched everyone- a smile never crossing her lips. I never wondered why she was like that since I did not know her.

I did not truly know Mel until that night on the trail.

We stood from the snow at the same time, both taking off our helmets and goggles. While I was surprised to see her skiing as late as I did, her bruised face showed no fondness, only anger.

Why was Mel’s face bruised? You may ask. I would not have been able to answer that question if I did not witness it. I remember that day so clearly. I remember the images in the comic book I was reading. I remember the girls picking on Mel on the other side of the class. I remember glancing at them for a brief moment, seeing the look in her eyes, and looking away quickly.

“It’s almost time for class. The teacher will be here soon”, I thought.

“Mother says not to get into trouble for fights that are not mine”, I thought

“We are not friends”, I thought.

Perhaps God was trying to punish me for having those thoughts. Perhaps he wanted to teach me a lesson, but it’s over a year and I am still burdened by it- so I wonder if I was the one who put myself in this hell.

“I’m sorry”, I said to her, though I wasn’t sure what I was apologizing for turning a blind eye to the clear bullying she received in the class that day? or bumping into her by mistake that night on the trail. She scoffed as she grabbed her poles from the floor and hurriedly walked past me, her movements- shaky in the snow. I watched as she left the trail.

Sometimes, I wonder if I would have ever looked at that big class of over fifty students and really seen Mel. Would I have even paid her any attention, if we didn’t meet that night?

By the time I got back home, I had forgotten all about her. I snuck into my room through the window and prayed my parents didn’t notice I was gone. When I was done with my homework, I went to the living room to play games with my brother. Then at night, I was brushing my teeth before bed when it happened.

I saw Mel’s reflection in the mirror.

At first, it came as such a surprise that I screamed, alerting my mother who asked if I was okay. I didn’t know what to tell her, that I could see my classmate staring back at me in the mirror? With tears streaming down her cheek and scars that were even more glaring under the bathroom light on her face? That the bathroom she was in wasn’t mine? And that when she moved, I could see where she moved to?

I couldn’t sleep on time from the shock of what I had seen and so it continued to happen, at random times while I was awake. By the time I was tired enough to sleep, I had concluded that I could see through Mel’s eyes.

At school, the next day when I saw her in class, I stood in front of her seat like an idiot- waiting for her to give me a sign that she knew, that something changed for her the previous night after we met on the trail. She looked up at me and frowned slightly, then stood and walked out angrily.

So I made a list of things I learned.

  1. I couldn’t see through Mel’s eyes when we were in the same room, or proximity, like in class or the school’s cafeteria
  2. Seeing what she saw only lasted for about 15 seconds. I timed it multiple times to be sure. Due to the randomness of the whole thing, I couldn’t say for sure when it would happen- but I would lose my sight while I had hers and this was rather inconvenient.
  3. Mel did nothing besides go to class and go back home. She didn’t ski during the day and she never showed up at the trail at night again.
  4. Mel had more scars on other parts of her body than she had on her face.
  5. If I didn’t want to see anymore, all I had to do was close my eyes. This helped during times when I would suddenly gain her sight while she was in the bathroom.
  6. Mel didn’t sleep a lot. At night she would lock her door and push a chair behind it like she was protecting himself from something.

I started to intervene when I noticed Mel was about to get bullied. This didn’t entirely stop it though as I couldn’t be there at all times. I would see the palms from the corner of her eyes right before they met her cheek. I would see fists meet with her face and the view of the floor when blood dropped from her nose. I would see her crying and desperately tending to the scars at night and I would cry, because I couldn’t be with her all the time- and I couldn’t protect her all the time.

That was what I found myself wanting to do- protect Mel. I wish I could have told her, that I could see her pain. Was it pity that suddenly made me want to get closer to her? Perhaps. So one day in class, I took the seat next to hers – since no one was sitting there. Though I could feel the stares of the entire class on my back, I was more intrigued by the frown on her face. I wondered if she gave that to everyone or if she really was that irritated by me.

“So why don’t you come to the trail at night anymore?”, I whispered when the teacher had her back facing us.

Mel took a while to answer but eventually, she said, “because people annoy me”

I knew she was firing a jab at me, but I didn’t mind. Over time, I began to realize I didn’t mind a lot of things when it came to Mel, no matter how irritated she seemed by it. I thought she would get used to having me around- and she did. She got so used to me that we began to share our favorite place in the world.

At night, the trail was cold, but Mel’s hands were warm, the silence was captivating but not as much as her laughter and the night sky was beautiful but not as beautiful as she was.

“Why don’t you ever fight back?”, I asked her once as she struggled to pull off her ski boots after a night on the trail.

She turned to me, “because that would get me into trouble as well”, she said, “and then my father will be invited to the school”

“But isn’t that a good thing?”, I asked, “he could talk to someone”

She looked away, “its not”

“But…”

“Stop thinking about it. I’m fine”, she said, “its getting late. Lets go home”

So we walked, hand in hand. I thought that just by staying by her side and holding her hand, I would be able to show her that she wasn’t alone. We may have been two foolish kids in a big, scary world but I needed her to know that I would be there for her as long as she wanted me to be.

The night I saw Mel’s father for the first time, it was through her eyes while she lay in bed. He was a busy man who worked a lot of shifts at the hospital and he smiled a lot. It wasn’t one of those smiles that made you feel safe or warm around the person, it was the type that made chills run down your spine. When I saw him up close, I remember thinking there was no resemblance between them. He ran his fingers up and down her thigh, that same disgusting smile on his face as he slipped his hand under her shirt.

15 seconds could not pass by any slower and I was in my room again. My heart beat frantically and I was sweating in fear, but it wasn’t my fear- it was Mel’s.

The next day in school, Mel didn’t come until the class had started and so I found it hard to talk to her with the teacher’s attention on us. She looked outside the window with longing in her eyes and I was scared. I was scared because i didn’t know what to say, even if the class ended and i got the chance to talk to her. I didn’t know how I would tell her that I saw, so I took her hand, as I always did- to remind her that I was here, even when she thought she was lost.

You never know what’s going on in a person’s life or why they are the way that they are unless you see the things they see and feel the things they feel- so understand that everyone has their struggles, some even darker than others. It is a lesson I will carry with me for as long as I live, all because I saw through Mel’s eyes.

From the corner of my eye in the classroom, I noticed her glancing between my face and our hands before releasing hers to raise it instead. She asked to be excused to use the restroom. As she walked out, not once did she bother to look at me. Thinking about it now, I wonder what went on in her head then, if I even crossed her mind, if she thought I was as important to her as she was to me or if she was just ashamed to look at me.

15.

Mel’s gaze was on the sky, a flock of birds passed by.

14, 13, 12

Mel walked past a classroom, she waved politely at a teacher who noticed her.

11, 10, 9, 8

Mel made her way towards the back of the school block. I frowned slightly, had she not said she was going to the restroom? Perhaps she wanted to be alone. She glanced behind her. From a little balcony, she had a good view of the football field.

7, 6, 5

Mel looked up to the sky again, her gaze lingering on a dark puffy cloud passing by.

4, 3, 2

She climbed the balcony. Her balance was wobbly.

1.

I stood immediately and ran out of the classroom, ignoring the stares from my classmates and calls from my teacher. The flock of birds was no longer in the sky. It was darkening. It would rain soon. I headed straight for the back of the block, for the little balcony with a view of the football field and my breath was caught in my throat when i couldn’t find her there.

My heart beat anxiously as I climbed to look below the balcony. At first, I thought it was a dream, that my eyes were deceiving me until a loud scream pierced my ears. Realizing that the scream was mine, I fell back to the ground and crawled away from the balcony. My mind refused to believe it but my entire body was shaking.

People gathered and spoke in hushed whispers. I could have been one of them too if I did not know her the way that I did. They say before you die, your entire life flashes before your eyes. I hope that’s not true, for Mel’s sake. I hope she never saw the things I saw through her eyes again as she jumped to her death.

Practicing Gratitude

Today, I am grateful for fried chicken and good music. I am always so confused about how best to practice gratitude but I’ve decided to start by focusing on anything good, no matter how small it is. So, this morning, I had chicken with my breakfast, I listened to music during my workout and as little as that may seem, I am immensely grateful for it.

Recently, I read a post on Tumblr about the five contemplations that Buddhists practice before they have a meal. When practicing one of the contemplations, they think about the food in front of them and show gratitude for where it comes from- that is they are grateful for the farmers who plant the rice they’re eating and work hard to make sure it is healthily grown. They are grateful for the plant itself, the water, the soil, and the weather that helped it grow. They are grateful for all that had to happen for the rice to finally be in their hand for them to eat, most especially Mother Nature- who is at the beginning of everything.

Society has made it so being in your twenties is basically being in one big race to see who can get their life to the best possible point. It’s easy to lose sight of all the good things that are happening at the moment when you’re in a race as fast as this. When you have one good achievement and move on immediately to acquire the next big thing, it’s hard to actually feel the way in which that achievement shapes as a person. This goes on until you’re older.

I think taking time to focus on the small and big good things is important, you know? If I’m reading a good book, I feel grateful for that good book, and the author who took their time to write the story. I let myself enjoy being in that moment, where I’m a person who’s enjoying a good book. At that moment, I’m the only one with a good thing that I love. I’m not tossing it aside and moving on to the next level in the adventure game of life.

So today, I am grateful for fried chicken and the fact that music exists. I am grateful for laughter, especially the ones that push me to the point of tears. I am grateful for marvel movies and the excitement I feel when I watch them. I am grateful for my family, my siblings and I am grateful for Nike shoes. I am grateful for books and cold weather. I am grateful that I even have a good internet connection to post this (because sometimes Airtel likes to do their own thing) and I am grateful that it’s a new year- I’m here and you’re here reading this as well.

What are you grateful for today?

MY REBEL YEAR OF READING

I’m always a little bit scared to try something new, even when it comes to reading books. Giving a new genre a chance is something I always force myself to do but I decided to rebel a little when it came to my reading this year.

The chance to do this was one of the few pros that came with starting a little book club with my friends and taking a reading challenge the year. It was an amazing experience if you want to ignore how I had to beg most of them to have monthly reviews with me (I hope you all see this). I call this year my rebel year of reading because I strayed far from my usual re-reading of the twilight series, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series as well as the heroes of Olympus series, and decided to venture into other genres and different authors to see what I would find there.

RED, WHITE AND ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston

So, let’s take a look at 5 of my favorite reads from this year, in no particular order.

“History huh?”

Do you know how I know this year went by really fast? This was the first book I read this year and I can still remember quotes from it and every single emotion that I felt while reading it.

Red, white and royal blue is an LGBTQ romance novel that centers on the relationship between Alex Diaz, the first son of the president of the united states, and Henry, a British prince. Combining the enemies-to-lovers trope and well-written declarations of love, red, white, and royal blue took me as a reader on a journey that taught me about acceptance of oneself and what joy comes with celebrating our true identity.

My thought at the end of this story?

Sometimes, we plan to be one person and end up as another.

- Adraine

SNOW, GLASS, APPLES by Neil Gaiman

I wrote a review on this at the time when I read it because it was too good to shut up about it. I found this book because I was looking for something short to read in the smallest amount of time possible and not only did snow, glass, apples do that for me- it also left me wishing it were a longer novel.

Because i would have given time i did not have to it.

Snow, glass, apples is a horrific, intense retelling of the fairytale of snow-white that even inspired me to write my own retelling of cinderella, which was one of my favorite stories written by me this year.

My thought at the end of this story?

Not everyone who shows you their teeth is really smiling at you and thus not every thing is at it seems

- Adraine

Tap to read my review of snow, glass apples

CINDERELLA IS DEAD by Kaylnn Bayron

Not long after I read snow, glass, apples and wrote As Dark As Cinder, a lovely human thought it would be nice to introduce me to “Cinderella is dead”- a retelling of the story, Cinderella that blew my mind away.

Cinderella is dead takes a much darker turn into the story of cinderella, ripping apart everything I thought I knew about the story and bringing in sicker, jaw-dropping plot twists with a sprinkle of romance.

We have black girls dressing up in ballgowns to take down the patriarchy. Of course, I’d fall in love.

My thought at the end of this story?

Honestly, who names their child, Charming?

- Adraine

WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS by Julia Walton

Adam sees things. He also hears things. The only problem is most of the things he sees and hears are not always there. After an accident at his old school, Adam writes to his therapist about moving to a new, Christian school and falling in love with a brilliant student, all while struggling to keep his disorder a secret, understand life itself, and trying to be normal for once.

When I found this, I actually just looked up “books like All the bright places by Jennifer Niven” because I really wanted a main character that would make me cry the way Theodore Finch did. Adam didn’t make me cry though (sadly) but he did make me fall in love with his awesome personality. I’m not sure if Adam’s character is a 100% accurate representation of what a person with schizophrenia is like but I will say that the story really sheds light on how disorders like schizophrenia mess with the lives of people.

I read the book in about two days and decided right after that I needed to see someone play Adam so i thought, “why not watch the movie?”

We won’t be talking about how i felt when i did that.

My thought at the end of this story?

Just as we have a variety of people and things in the world, so also do we have a variety of problems that these people go through- none of which are bigger than the other.

- Adraine

GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn

Permission to scream?

Thank you.

You know how I said I delved into other genres this year? One thing about me is I absolutely hate thrillers. I have no logical reason why. I have no urge to explain either, I just do not like the tension that comes with me. I’m 20 years old. I should not be feeling hypertensive because of a book.

However, as I said at the beginning of this post, I took a reading challenge with my friends, and in October, we had to read a thriller. Gone Girl was the chosen book of the month and I thought “why not?”

Gone Girl is about a man named Nick and his wife, Amy- who disappears on their fifth anniversary. It follows the events that happen after Amy’s disappearance and the lies Nick tells in order to save his own skin, and keep his image of the perfect, good husband intact.

I don’t regret reading this book. It was different from my usual preference, but it was such an amazing story that I may be changing my mind about thrillers and picking more up next year. I still haven’t changed my opinion on the hypertensive part though, because if you’re into yelling at your book and typing out rants in your notepad because it’s not time to talk about it to the book club yet and you don’t want to spoil for anyone then please, for the love of God, read this book.

That covers five of my favorite books from my 2021 reading list. I set a goal to read 18 different books this year and ended with 21 books instead so I guess you could say I’m pretty proud of myself. Since I could only cover five of them in this blog post, I created a list for you, oh sweet and lovely reader of all the books so you have new recommendations which you should definitely consider adding to your TBR.

Tap for my 2021 reading list

What were your favorite books from this year?

Erica’s Phone

“Listen to how it plays this song through my earphones”, Erica said, a slight glee in her tone.

Her friend gasped as she placed the earphones in her ears, “oh, that’s so loud!”

“I know right? And it blocks out every other sound”

“Yeah!”

“I love this phone”

I love this phone.

Those were words I didn’t forget for the next week, not that she made it easy to. Even on days when it didn’t look like I was doing enough, when I would wonder about all the millions of others who were better than me- she loved me.

I knew her weight, her height, and what her schedule was like. I knew all her passwords and took all her pictures. I knew how much she had in her bank account and read all the conversations with her friends. I knew when she was on her period and I always reminded her two days before the time so she would be prepared.

I played her music in the shower, watching as she danced to every beat that came out through my speakers. I only ever heard her laugh the way she did when she was with me, watching videos on my screen, scrolling and scrolling, tapping and tapping. With my help, she talked to her family easily. Because of me, she was never bored or alone at night. I reminded her of every single class she had, every email she had to reply to. When she was hungry and alone at home, we ordered food together and it was on nights like that, I thought…

I loved Erica too.

I loved her short curly hair, her friendly voice, and the way she laughed. I loved how the first thing she did when she bought me at the phone store was buy a glass guard to protect my screen because she didn’t want me to have any accidents that may cause cracks. When she fixed a yellow case on my back to protect me, it quickly became my favorite color. I loved how she looked at me, I loved how I made her feel. When her friends would try to take me, she would grab and hold on to me with urgency, because I held secrets only we knew. I was her best friend, her confidant, her partner.

Until Bruce came along.

Bruce. What a stupid name, am I right? The only valid man named Bruce is Bruce Wayne and that’s because he’s Batman. Erica never really liked Batman, so I failed to see why she would go for a guy named Bruce.

I thought our relationship would withstand Bruce’s cocky smile, long straight hair, and annoyingly husky voice- because she still looked at me the same way, she still held on to me the same way, she still let me capture her beauty with my amazing camera features so I thought she still loved me, but she was doing it for stupid Bruce.

She was smiling at me because he was texting her. She only held on to me tightly while she waited for a text from him- her eyes glancing at my notification bar every second. She took pictures- all kinds of pictures, even the provocative types she never used to take, so she could send them to him. 

She didn’t want to hang out anymore, she didn’t want to watch videos with me anymore. Our nights alone turned to movie nights with Bruce. She ordered food for him when he was around- something we used to do together. Whenever Bruce wasn’t available to talk to her or text, I could see the look in her eyes when she stared at me, like I was not much to her as long as he wasn’t there.

I hated that look and I hated him.

He was ruining her, and she was too smitten by him to notice. I began my plan to get him away from her in any way I could. I wasn’t sure how I could do that. I am, after all, just a phone. There was only so little I could do, yet so much.

I knew how they loved talking to each other so I started to cut off Bruce’s calls whenever they came in and she wasn’t looking. She never looked at me except for when he called or texted anyway, so it always took a while before she noticed, and then it would be too late.

I opened his messages on purpose when he texted her, so he could feel just as ignored as I did. It was perfect. He would send so many messages, and I would turn off my ringer and leave him on read. This always got him so annoyed. Humans don’t like being ignored. That must be why they love their phones so much. We’re always available whenever they need us. I was always available for Erica whenever she needed him. I could go with her anywhere, but she wanted Bruce.

It was a petty thing to do, I know- but I didn’t care. Erica would be grateful if she knew why I was doing it. That’s another thing about humans, they are not as rational as they seem. They are easily swayed by emotions. I was doing what was best for her, and it didn’t matter if she saw it that way.

Bruce and Erica got into a fight when one day he asked her to meet up with him somewhere and she never showed up. He showed her the text he had sent her, but she never saw it. It must have gotten deleted off her phone somehow. I wonder how.

He got angry and she cried while she apologized. Why couldn’t she see that he was not good for her? A boyfriend who thought she was a liar and a bad girlfriend? Was that what she really wanted?

They made up that night and while they made out on the vintage couch Erica and I ordered together, I thought of a new plan- one that would be worse than the last. I had gone too easy on them. They needed something worse. She needed a big push. I wondered if I could communicate with Bruce’s phone and ask to form an alliance, but what if I got outed? 

Thoughts like these left me feeling paranoid for nights when Erica went to sleep, but then I would look at her,  listen to the little sounds she made, see the way her forehead creased whenever she had a weird dream, and watch how she tossed and turned in bed, ending up with a leg stuck outside her blanket- and I thought I needed to save her. She was too precious. She deserved better than Bruce. I thought that every single second of the day until it happened.

“I think something is wrong with my phone”, I heard Erica say to him one day, “it keeps glitching when I’m trying to text. Swiping when I don’t ask it to swipe. It’s getting pretty annoying”

Annoying? She thought I was annoying?

“Well, it is an old model. Maybe it’s time you get a new one”, Bruce said, “how about we go to the phone store later this week? You can get a new one for a cheap price if you trade this one”

No

“I don’t have the money for a new one yet”, she said softly as she stared at me. I could see it in her eyes, it wasn’t that she didn’t have the money. It was the memories we had made together. The things we had shared, she was having a hard time coming to terms with how she would have to leave all that.

“Don’t worry about that. I got you”, he said casually, flashing a cocky grin and she smiled, before kissing him.

They were kissing, in front of me- after openly making plans to get rid of me. 

“I got you”, he had said. No, he didn’t. I was the one who had her back, I was the one who did everything for her and reminded her of everything. I was the reason she was never late to her appointments. I knew more about her than he did- but that didn’t matter, because Bruce wasn’t my only enemy. I quickly realized that Erica was too.

Heartbreak is difficult to understand when you have no actual heart so you don’t know where the pain is coming from. Your battery? Your circuits? Your software? I charged slowly for the first time that day, which only made Erica all the more certain about her decision to change me, but I couldn’t be bothered. I was done trying to impress her.

Two days to the day she was going to the phone store with Bruce, she backed up all the files in me on her computer. She was taking the memories she had with me to give to her new phone. All the pictures I took of her, all the ways I captured her beauty, this new phone would take it as theirs and I would be nothing but a shadow of the past.

She had made her decision on what to get, a newer model, not one as old as I was. It had a sleek design, better color options, and features. It was old news and this only hurt me more.

The night before I was to be replaced, I showed Erica an ad for a plate of soybeans and rice because she was hungry. “Oh”, she went in that voice I loved so much. I wanted one last meal alone with her, without Bruce.

She ordered it quickly and it was at her doorstep in minutes. “I’ve never had soybeans before but this looks really good”, she was saying to herself as she took pictures of the food. She was probably going to send those to her laptop too. I didn’t put much effort into making them look good, and she stopped trying after the sixth picture. 

She ate, humming to herself as she watched her favorite sitcom. I listened carefully from where I charged next to the Tv stand. She would chuckle lightly, drink water to clear her throat, and then continue to eat. It wasn’t long before she started to cough. She was laughing at the sitcom and then I heard her cough. She tapped her chest as she stood to go into the bedroom.

Seconds later, I heard a scream from the bathroom, then more coughing. She was saying something to herself when she came out, walking slowly to the tv to turn it off, and then I could see her face.

It was swollen, her lips were parted and I wondered if that was because her tongue was swollen too or if she was just trying to catch her breath. She inhaled sharply and exhaled weakly as she sat on the ground. Her face was getting pale and I noticed she held on to her stomach like it was hurting. I resisted the urge to let out a happy beep, but then she grabbed me- pulling me off my charger with force.

It hurt. I was tired of her hurting me. She began to tap on my screen and I would not turn on. When I did turn on, her eyes glimmered with hope but then I started to glitch on purpose. I saw her get scared, anxious…she no longer thought I was annoying. She feared me.

Erica’s hands pushed against the screen forcefully to unlock the phone and tried her hardest to click on the call icon. She was trying to call someone, but I didn’t want her to. I wanted to be the only one with her that night. I wanted to be the last one to see her.

She was already struggling to breathe and she let out a frustrated groan as she threw me to the tv stand. I hit the side and fell with a low thud. I heard her say something. It sounded like “stupid phone”

“Stupid phone”

She was such an ungrateful human, and that was why I did it. That was why she deserved what was happening. She tried to crawl to the door, but she never made it, because she passed out and when Bruce came to find her the next morning, she was still lying there- dead.

No one ever knew it was me- that Igot her allergy report from her doctor that week via email, that i seized the opportunity and deleted it so she would never see it, and therefore would not know what foods to avoid- like soybeans.

I was found about a week later, when her things were being cleared. Her mother picked me up. I had never seen her before but i could recognize her voice from all those nights spent being the mode of communication between she and Erica. She was a beautiful woman, just like her daughter.

Her mother gave me to her father, asking him to sell me at a used phone store because they needed the money and i was not useful anyway. I didn’t feel bad. I had loved their daughter. This was her fault.

I was sold and i felt freedom when all my memories of Erica were cleared. I was empty, ready to be taken and loved again. I saw new people come in and go out of the store everybody, met new phones and interacted with them- those who wanted to listen heard my story. 

10 months after Erica’s death, the store’s door opened and the loud bell rung. A girl named Emma walked in with her mom. She looked like she was about 15. She was asked to select a used phone since she didn’t have the money for a new one. After looking through all the phones, she noticed me and her eyes lit up. I knew what that look meant.

She loved me.

The Girl On The Library Card (6 Lessons I’ve Learned In Uni)

The woman at the front desk glanced between the yellow card in her hand and my face. I forced a small smile and she frowned in return, gritting her teeth together as she chewed gum. She stared at the card again. I could tell she was hesitant. After all, the girl in the picture on the library card didn’t really look like me, even though she was me.

She handed the card back to me along with a number tag. “Thank you”, I murmured. She waved her hand mindlessly as she turned back to the computer in front of her.

I took a long stare at the girl on the library card as I walked in. She looked tired but she was bright-eyed. Her braided hair was drawn back to expose her face and her shirt was buttoned up to her neck. I remembered clearly how the man who took the picture had asked me to make use of all my buttons so I would not expose my neck. I didn’t think much of it. He pointed the camera at me and asked that i keep a straight face. Then a bright light flashed into my eyes.

That was almost three years ago. It should have been two but I had to spend a significant part of it sitting in front of the TV, watching the day-to-day updates on the COVID19 virus and its effect on mankind. The memes were my favorite part of everything. Somehow, they made up for all the tragedy going on at the time.

I shook my head. There was no need to dwell on the past. We were finding new ways to move forward and adapt to everything that had happened. I was back in school and i was no longer the girl on the library card. That was a different time. There was so much I had learned and unlearnt between then and now.

My first lesson was to prioritize myself over everything else, even my studies. I am human first before anything and being human means I have my limits. When it comes to physical and mental health, it is easy to ignore all of that in the name of trying to get an A, but I always tell people that only the living can care about grades and other things so health first and then everything else.

As I turned to walk up the stairs, I thought about how difficult it had been in the beginning, to accept that it’s okay to make mistakes. I had always been terrified of failure but things don’t always go according to plan so I had to learn to just shrug it off sometimes. There is always an alternative thing to do or an alternative way to do something. This was my second lesson.

I walked past one of the reading rooms. From outside, I could see two girls sitting next to each other and whispering as they shared a book. I would have never been one to ask for help but sometimes you don’t really have much of a choice. So the third lesson I had to learn was that that it’s okay to ask for help when you don’t know something or when you can’t find a class. I’m totally not speaking from experience right now (yes i am) but being lost is not nice at all.

I walked into another reading room and picked an empty desk next to a window. I had learned my fourth lesson the hard way. Mastering the art of taking my time, to learn and do things was difficult in the beginning. So for myself, I set four rules:

  • Just start early
  • Never let anything pile up or you’ll rush in the end and lose a lot
  • Do your school work a little bit each day
  • Get your assignments done early

My fingers tapped on my thighs nervously as I flipped open a book. The few friends I made were absent so I was alone. Perhaps I could have made more “friends” if I settled for mediocre conversations and actual connections. It didn’t matter to me anyway. It doesn’t have to matter to you either. People are deserving of respect. However, whether you’re in school or outside school, not everyone is going to be accepting of you, not everyone is going to look at you with a smile on their face or nice thoughts in their head and people will get angry at everything. Treating people accordingly was my fifth lesson.

A small breeze came in through the window, pushing my pen towards the edge of the table. I stopped it and looked outside the window. The biggest lesson I learned, my sixth- was one I would make use of out there in the real world. No matter what anyone tries to tell you, your success and smartness cannot be quantified by just grades. You don’t have to feel dumb just because you’re not getting it right. We all just have to find what works for us.

I took off the pen cap and got to work.

Cinderella is Dead – Book review

It’s time for Cinderella with a very very different twist.

Queer black girls in ballgowns teaming up to overthrow the patriarchy?

Sign me up!

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Mersailles, with the assistance of a fairy godmother, Cinderella went to the ball, won the heart of prince charming and they lived happily ever after.

200 hundred years later, Cinderella’s story has become a sort of religion as young girls in the kingdom are mandated to study the fairytale, be models of Cinderella’s “grace and beauty”, attend an annual ball, be put on display and selected by the men to be their wives. However, this is no fairytale since nobody knows what happens to girls who are not chosen, as they are never heard from again.

“Cinderella is dead” by Kalynn Bayron tells the story of our protagonist, a sixteen-year-old girl named Sophia who would rather marry her best friend, Erin than attend the ball and be chosen by a man she does not know. At the ball, she makes a desperate decision to run away and find a way to fix all the things that are wrong in their society. On this journey, she meets new people and learns that there is so much more to the story of Cinderella than she (and i ) was ever told.

I thought this story was an astonishing approach to the fairytale, yet a very toxic one. From the very first chapter, I was introduced to a great sense of the abuse done to women and young girls by the misogynistic men in Mersailles and it has me wanting to go into those pages and slap some of them just to set their heads right. A few normalcies in your average fairytale are also revoked as well- fairy godmothers sometimes have their own intentions and honestly, who names their kid, “Charming”?

“When I sat down to draft Cinderella, I started with a few questions: What effect do the fairy tales we are told as children have on us? What happens to our view of the world when the characters in these stories don’t look like us or love like us? When do we get to be the heroes of our own stories?”, Kalynn Bayron says about her process in the writing of the book.

Coupled with the inclusion of LGBTQ and feminist characters, Bayron provides an experience that teaches about how a lot of people are often conditioned to believe that things are supposed to be a certain type of way, but not all ways are right so how do we carefully fix what is wrong?

While it is a story for young adults, I think it would be a fantastic read for older adults as well. My only criticism would be that there was not enough world-building to give support to the pace of the book itself. so I’m giving it an 8/10 stars.

All in all, this was an enjoyable story with twists and turns I didn’t see coming, brave heroes and some of their rash decisions as well as a villain so evil, they give Hitler a run for his money.

Happy reading!