A Silent Voice Series Review

asilentvoice1Title: A Silent Voice
Series: 7 Volumes Total
Author/Illustrator: Yoshitoki Oima
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Genre: Manga – Young Adult – Contemporary
Format: Purchased paperbacks

LEARNING TO LISTEN

Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favorite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his past mistakes, or is it too late?

This will be a series review, so I will be covering all seven volumes of this series. There may be spoilers, but I’ll do my best to keep this spoiler free.

This manga series is, in a word, stunning. I love the art and the characters and the story, and I’m so glad that it was so critically acclaimed in Japan because of the heavy subjects that it undertakes and how it’s executed in the story itself.

The story itself is about a boy named Shoya who always wants to have fun and never be bored. He often takes dangerous risks with his friends (such as jumping off bridges into shallow-ish water) in order to find those moments of fun and adventure. When his friends decide to cool it with all of the dangerous stunts, that’s when Shoko, a deaf girl, is transferred to his class and he thinks of her as kind of like a boss he has to beat in a video game.

Of course, that doesn’t exactly turn out well in his favor. He bullies Shoko without realizing he was being a bully by yelling at her, ripping out her hearing aids, and just causing chaos for Shoko. His other friends join in and eventually she has to transfer again.

That’s also when Shoya’s friends turn against him and he pretty much becomes a loner for the next six years.

I love how the story uses X’s over people’s faces because we’re seeing everything through Shoya’s point of view, and he doesn’t think about or care about anyone. Only when someone does something nice to him does that X fly off of their face and he sees who they are and becomes friends with them. I thought that that concept was demonstrated really well and that it was very important to the story itself.

When Shoya runs into Shoko six years later in high school, he returns the notebook she used to communicate with the other students to her and, to her surprise, he also learned sign language so he could communicate with her.

He tries very hard to redeem himself and make up with her and show her that he’s extremely sorry for the way he was as a kid, and though I thought this was sweet I oftentimes found that it became overbearing the way he was going about it. I did see immense growth in him, though, and I was glad to see that he was also affecting others around him in a positive way.

Shoko was a very defining character as well not only because she was deaf, but because she always tried to be kind to everyone and not let things get to her – at least on the surface. There are a couple of darker moments with her that made me want to reach out and comfort her. I thought that she was a very generous and warm character and I’m so glad to see some sort of deaf representation in manga (which I’ve never seen before).

There were also characters who were fat, or had a very ugly personality, or who was once bullied, or who tries her best in everything. Even Shoko’s younger sister is “different” in that she takes pictures of dead animals and dresses like a boy. I loved that there were so many varied personalities, body sizes, and disabilities shown in this series.

The plot, overall, was one that gripped me and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It was cute in many places, and there were a few times where I felt some things were unnecessary or were just too extreme, but the main story was very gripping and I loved it to bits.

If you’re looking for a diverse manga set in Japan, then I highly, highly recommend A Silent Voice.

Each volume has it’s own rating, but for my series rating I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

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Dumbledore’s Army Readathon TBR

Hey guys, I’m here with another readathon that I’m probably going to fail at, yay! But I really wanted to join this one because this readathon, hosted by Aentee @ Read At Midnight, focuses on diverse reading and reading #ownvoices books. Since diversity has been an incredibly HUGE topic of discussion this past year, I definitely wanted to join in this readathon and read some more diverse books.

My House: Hufflepuff represent, whoo whoo!

dareadathon-id-hufflepuff

When: January 1st to January 15th, midnight to midnight your time

Points: There are points to earn for your House, whichever you sign up for. I’m not going to explain the points, but you can find out how they work on the sign up post.

The Prompts: There are a few prompts that are based off of different spells from the Harry Potter series that you can pick books based off of. Here they are along with my picks:

dareadathon-expecto-patronum

Alright, for this one I’m going with Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. As a plus-sized woman, and how one of the main characters is also large, I find this fitting. Also because I’ve always struggled with my identity as a big person and having people see me for who I am, which is a topic this book covers (or so the synopsis says).

Potential 39 points + 5 for completion = 44 points

da-readathon-expelliarmus

I think for this one I’m going to read The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon because it has two characters who are diverse: a Jamaican female main character, and a Korean male main character, two groups of people which I’ve never read about, I think.

Potential 38 points + 5 completion = 43 points

da-readathon-protego

I’m going to read Style by Chelsea M. Cameron. This book features a f/f relationship, and Chelsea is a queer author, so it fits for the #ownvoices choice.

Potential 24 points + 5 completion points = 29 points

da-readathon-reducto

I had the hardest time thinking of anything, so I’m going to pick something someone else is reading which is milk and honey by Rupi Kaur. It’s a collection of poetry and prose about survival, love, loss, and other things.

Potential 20 points + 5 completion = 25 points

dareadathon-impedimenta

I’m going to have to go with Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy because this book has been on my shelf for a while now and it features a teen who’s overweight and does beauty pageants and is confident in her body and I am here for that.

Potential 38 points + 5 completion = 43 points

dareadathon-stupefy

I’m going to pick Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz because I’ve heard so much hype and love for this book since joining the book community that I just need to read it for myself and see if it lives up to expectations.

Potential 35 points + 5 completion = 40 points

dareadthon-lumos

This wasn’t recommended to me specifically but everyone and their mother has recommended this book: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Once I finish Ruin & Rising, then I can move onto this book.

Potential 46 points + 5 completion = 51 points

Total Potential Points: 275 points
(this total doesn’t include any extra points such as review points & others)


Now will I read all of these in the two weeks this readathon takes place? Most likely not, but I’m going to read as much as I can because this is such an important and fun readathon, to broaden your horizons and read more diversely.

P.S. All of the banners were made by Aentee. I just edited the Hufflepuff one to include my info.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

Are you planning on joining in on this readathon? What books do you plan on reading? What #ownvoices book did you pick? Which house are you representing?

Rayna Recommends: Diversity

Hey guys, welcome to another installment of my sporadic series, Rayna Recommends! This is a time where I recommend books, movies, and TV shows to you based on the genre or type of books I wanted to talk about.

Today I’m going to recommend to you some of the diverse books, movies, and shows I’ve seen and read. I really enjoy reading and watching this kinds of things, but I still feel like I don’t get enough! With all of the diversity talk that’s been going around lately, I thought that this would be appropriate, so here are my recommendations:

Books

  • None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio is a YA book about a girl who is intersex. Now, I’ve never heard of the term “intersex” until I read this book, and it really opened my eyes to it. It follows a girl who also didn’t know she was intersex until an unfortunate sexual time with her boyfriend that was extremely painful to her and her journey in the beginning stages of accepting who she is and how she can still have a normal life despite it all. It was very interesting and I definitely recommend it.
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Need I say anything more? It’s hilarious, heartwarming, charming, and everything I could’ve asked for in a LGBT+ read and more. Seriously, check this one out. You won’t regret it. It’s about a high schooler named Simon who isn’t out of the closest yet, and how he’s being blackmailed by another kid so his secret is in danger. It’s really awesome, so go read it – right now!
  • My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga has a suicide trigger warning on it, I just want you to know. It’s about a girl who is dealing with a lot of suicidal thoughts and depression, and she meets a kid who also wants to commit suicide with someone else. It follows them and how she realizes how much more life has to offer than what’s going on there. It’s really something very close and personal to my heart and I highly recommend this book.

Movies

  • Beyond the Lights is a movie about a young woman in the music industry who is saved by an officer from committing suicide. The two fall in love and in the process, she realizes that hiding behind all of the makeup, glamor, and fame is so much more to be had. I really enjoyed this movie and thought that it was really well done. Cheesy in a few parts, but overall enjoyable. I love seeing movies with singers/dancers/artists that strive to be their best even when there’s bumps along the way, and to see a cast of colored actors is always awesome as well.
  • Blue is the Warmest Color is an international movie set in France and it follows a girl, Adele, who is discovering who she is as a teen when she meets Emma, a girl with blue hair. The two end up falling in love, but of course there are repercussions in Adele’s life because she was “supposed” to be a straight girl. It’s a really long movie (three hours), and there’s a lot of graphic sexual scenes that I had to turn the volume down on, BUT I really did enjoy it and I really want to see the second part since this is only the first half. It ended on a cliffhanger (kind of) and I need to see how it ends!

TV Shows

  • Orange is the New Black definitely has a diverse cast of characters, and it’s about women in prison. Honestly, that’s a crap ton of diversity if you ask me. Now, I don’t watch OITNB, like, at all, BUT, my husband does and he’s really into it. I’ve watched bits and pieces and from what I gather it’s a really interesting show and one that a lot of people are really into.
  • Good Morning Call is a Japanese drama that’s based off of the manga and it’s adorable and funny and GO WATCH IT. It’s available on Netflix, so really, no excuse. It follows a girl, Nao, and how she rents her dream apartment, but comes to find out she’s stuck with rooming with one of her high school’s hottest guys: Uehara. It’s dramatic, funny, adorable (like I said), so go check it out.

I’m literally drawing blanks now on other movies and shows, but these are just some of the diverse things that I’ve personally enjoyed and that I think you should definitely check out.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

Do you have any recommendations for me for diverse reads, movies, or shows? I’d really love to hear it! Also, have you read/watched any of the items on my list? Let me know your thoughts!

The Importance of Diversity

If you’ve been around Twitter and YouTube in the last week, then you’ve probably seen the very heated topic of diversity popping up constantly. I’m not naming names or anything like that, but there was a very controversial video that included a lot of ignorant viewpoints on diversity and how it’s not “needed” or “important” in literature. That we should be sticking to a status quo of sorts when it comes to books.

And oh how wrong that is.

I’ve talked about the importance of diversity in children’s literature before, but this is a more general, encompassing talk today.

As a white female, I’m privileged. No doubt about it. I’ve been raised in a good home with a good family and have a good life. I shouldn’t have much to complain about, but I’m only human so it happens. I suffer with depression, and occasionally anxiety.

But there are things that I have been realizing more and more as I stay longer in this community: there is more out there than what I know.

Of course I enjoy reading stories about a white boy and white girl having drama, falling in love, and lots of kissing. Of course I enjoy reading about a white girl out to save the world. I can relate to it not because I’ve saved the world or anything (or have I?), but because I’m a white girl.

I’d love to be able to read books with black women protagonists who kick ass and who are confident in themselves, or books with Asian male protagonists who are both sensitive and athletic and might have a mental illness, or books about gay religious hispanic men getting their flirt on at a college campus and how they deal with their faith in all of it.

And I’m sure these books are out there!

So why is it that they never seem to “stand out” among the crowd when new books are being marketed to the public? How come it takes so long for these kinds of books to be raised to the surface and have people buzzing about them?

It’s like they aren’t going to sell as well because their main characters aren’t white.

And of course I’m not saying this is the case for all books and situations!

But every voice deserves to be heard. Every person of color, every disabled person, every religion, sexuality, gender, situation, mental illness: it all deserves to be heard. It all deserves to be told.

So why do people think that we should only be sticking to some certain status quo when it comes to books?

If I had been able to read a book about a girl with depression when I was younger, maybe I would have developed better coping mechanisms as a result. Maybe if I had been able to read a book about a girl who struggles with her sexuality then maybe I could have come to terms a lot sooner than I did. Hell, maybe I still wouldn’t feel so lost sometimes.

And I know that there are so many people out there of varying skin colors, genders, sexualities, etc, who need these stories in their lives. And when people say that diversity isn’t important, that it’s the “worst word in the English language,” that it shouldn’t really exist, then it’s like they’re saying that all of those people don’t matter.

And they for sure do.

So what can you do to introduce more diverse books into your life?

  • Well, there is a readathon coming up from September 12-19 that is hosted by four lovely ladies on YouTube (Joce @ squibblesreads, Monica @ shemightbemonicaMonica @ shemightbemonica, Christina @ Christina Marie, and Whitney @ whittynovels) called #DiverseAThon and there’s no challenges or anything, but there’s an optional group book they have up which is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. They only hope that you pick up at least ONE diverse book to read during this time to show support for the cause of diversity.
  • Challenge yourself to read at least ONE diverse book a month. And if that’s too much for you, then spread it out, but there are so, SO many out there to choose from.
  • Ask around! There have been tons of threads on Twitter about different diverse reads, plus there’s the infinite blog universe you can look into, as well as YouTube and other places. Ask around and you’ll find someone that has read something diverse.
  • Start with a topic that is important to you. For me personally, depression/suicide are very important topics to me, and I definitely want to read more books involving them, especially from the protagonist’s point of view. (If anyone has any recommendations, please let me know!) But if you’re someone who is struggling with sexuality, then find a book that has confident characters in that sexuality that you believe you identify with, or if you’re looking for something that has kickass lesbian black female heroines, then search for them!
  • Branch out from there. The world of diversity is a hidden gem, but once you find it, it’s beautiful and it really deserves to shine.

Diversity is so, SO important. Don’t ever think that it’s not. Your race, sexual identity, gender, etc is not the only one out there; all voices deserve to be heard because all voices are important.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

What kinds of diverse books are your favorites? Do you gravitate more towards a certain kind, or do you really try to branch out and read different things? What is your stance on this whole diverse topic? Let me know!

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Diverse Characters

Welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday! Today’s topic is all about our favorite diverse characters. What is a diverse character? Any character who is of a different race than white, is LGBTQIA+, minority religion, has a mental or physical disability, etc. So here’s my five:

5. Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Lara Jean, though frustrating, was still just a teenage girl trying to keep her traditional family values in place and alive throughout the story while also dealing with a lot of things on her own. I love that there is mention of her Korean heritage throughout the duology and how it is represented.

4. Eleanor from Eleanor and Park

Why did I pick her? Because she’s a heavy set girl, aka she’s fat. How many fat girls do you see in YA? Not enough. So I had to pick her because not only does she have an extremely difficult home life, but she’s also a girl that can represent large girls, and I was so happy to read about a girl who is heavy set because, well, I am, too. Plus I just love her personality.

3. Shahrzad from The Wrath and the Dawn

Even though I have a really hard time pronouncing her name, I love how Shahrzad is written and how she represents a whole slew of people. She is also strong, stubborn, and independent, which I think is important to show girls.

2. Simon from Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Well, you know, he’s hilarious and I love him to bits, plus he’s gay, which is even better. I don’t know why that makes it better, but it does. I just love this book and I love Simon and I just love everything about it.

1 . Jubliee Chase from This Shattered World

A kickass black girl who is the captain of her section of the army? Yes please. She’s fierce, smart, strong, brave, and just an overall amazing character. I really loved her and I want more from her.

So there you have it! Five of my top favorite diverse characters. Who are some of yours? Let me know!