December 2021: Family

Our theme this quarter is family: biological, found, or otherwise. Whether you define family as community, coworkers, or the Fast and the Furious franchise, our four titles explore belonging and what it means to be a part of a family; the ways in which we chose or are chosen by our family; and the ways in which family can fail or uplift us.

Each box comes with a "Stand Together" enamel pin by Kela Designs, a "You're My Chosen Family" greeting card by ifpencilscouldtalk, and a "community is resistance" vinyl sticker by Amlaw Designs. Scroll down to read more about them!

Shut Up You're Pretty

By Tea Mutonji

Short Stories, LGBTQ+

In Tea Mutonji's disarming debut story collection, a woman contemplates her Congolese traditions during a family wedding, a teenage girl looks for happiness inside a pack of cigarettes, a mother reconnects with her daughter through their shared interest in fish, and a young woman decides to shave her head in the waiting room of an abortion clinic. These punchy, sharply observed stories blur the lines between longing and choosing, exploring the narrator's experience as an involuntary one. Tinged with pathos and humor, they interrogate the moments in which femininity, womanness, and identity are not only questioned but also imposed.

Shut Up You're Pretty is the first book to be published under the imprint VS. Books, a series of books curated and edited by writer-musician Vivek Shraya featuring work by new and emerging Indigenous or Black writers, or writers of color.

Read more on the publisher's website

Inconvenient Daughter

By Lauren J. Sharkey

Fiction
All copies signed by the author!

Rowan Kelly knows she’s lucky. After all, if she hadn’t been adopted, she could have spent her days in a rice paddy, or a windowless warehouse assembling iPhones—they make iPhones in Korea, right? Either way, slowly dying of boredom on Long Island is surely better than the alternative. But as she matures, she realizes that she’ll never know if she has her mother’s eyes, or if she’d be in America at all had her adoptive parents been able to conceive.

Rowan sets out to prove that she can be someone’s first choice. After running away from home—and her parents’ rules—and ending up beaten, barefoot, and topless on a Pennsylvania street courtesy of Bad Boy Number One, Rowan attaches herself to Never-Going-to-Commit. When that doesn’t work out, she fully abandons self-respect and begins browsing Craigslist personals. But as Rowan dives deeper into the world of casual encounters with strangers, she discovers what she’s really looking for.

With a fresh voice and a quick wit, Lauren J. Sharkey dispels the myths surrounding transracial adoption, the ties that bind, and what it means to belong.

Read more on the publisher's website

Like a Boy but Not a Boy

By andrea bennett

Biography, Memoir, LGBTQ+

A revelatory book about gender, mental illness, parenting, mortality, bike mechanics, work, class, and the task of living in a body.

Inquisitive and expansive, Like a Boy but Not a Boy explores author andrea bennett's experiences with gender expectations, being a non-binary parent, and the sometimes funny and sometimes difficult task of living in a body. The book's fourteen essays also delve incisively into the interconnected themes of mental illness, mortality, creative work, class, and bike mechanics (apparently you can learn a lot about yourself through trueing a wheel).

With the same poignant spirit as Ivan Coyote's Tomboy Survival Guide, Like a Boy addresses the struggle to find acceptance, and to accept oneself; and how one can find one's place while learning to make space for others. The book also wonders what it means to be an atheist and search for faith that everything will be okay; what it means to learn how to love life even as you obsess over its brevity; and how to give birth, to bring new life, at what feels like the end of the world.

Read more on the publisher's website

Scarborough

by Catherine Hernandez

Fiction

Scarborough is a low-income, culturally diverse neighbourhood east of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America; like many inner-city communities, it suffers under the weight of poverty, drugs, crime, and urban blight. Scarborough the novel employs a multitude of voices to tell the story of a tight-knit neighborhood under fire: among them, Victor, a black artist harassed by the police; Winsum, a West Indian restaurant owner struggling to keep it together; and Hina, a Muslim school worker who witnesses first-hand the impact of poverty on education.

And then there are the three kids who work to rise above a system that consistently fails them: Bing, a gay Filipino boy who lives under the shadow of his father's mental illness; Sylvie, Bing's best friend, a Native girl whose family struggles to find a permanent home to live in; and Laura, whose history of neglect by her mother is destined to repeat itself with her father.

Scarborough offers a raw yet empathetic glimpse into a troubled community that locates its dignity in unexpected places: a neighborhood that refuses to be undone.

Read more on the publisher's website

& also: all our September and june books!

For this box only, all of our September 2021: Divinity and June 2021: Pride titles are available in addition to the titles above! More info on those books can be found on our blog.

Click here for September 2021: Divinity books
Click here for June 2021: Pride books

Kela Designs

Featured Artist

Kela Wong is an Asian American illustrator from Seattle, Washington. She draws inspiration from her Chinese Japanese American heritage and her love of corgis. Both themes run through her line of joyful greeting cards and stickers. Kela Designs is proud to be an Asian-owned and woman-owned small business.

A portion of the profits from Kela's "Proudly Asian" line—including the "Stand Together" pin included in this box—is donated to Stop AAPI Hate organizations and Asian communities in need each month. Support Kela's work by shopping Kela Designs on her website or Etsy (linked below).

Amlaw Designs

Featured Artist

Benny Amlaw is a 19 year old multimedia artist who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She creates art about love + personhood + connection + gay & trans love. He’s been making art his whole life & is happy to have this as a career :-)

Shop Amlaw Designs on Etsy and follow Benny on Instagram—linked below!

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