Oxford Exchange

Who Is Wellness For? by Fariha Roisin

Who is Wellness For? is part-memoir, part well-researched collection of works that earnest endeavor in answering the title’s query. Roisin maps constellations of historical context, spiritual meaning, and community care. A map that is truly a gift for anyone who considers that self-healing work is never really meant to be done alone. Each dot on this map reminds us of the many people and communities before this moment that teach us the dire necessity of prioritizing communal care. This book is a total offering to its readers, both as a starting place or a gentle reminder, meeting them wherever they may be on their healing journey. I look forward to re-reading this book and have added all of her intentional citations to be TBR lists.

Who Is Wellness For? by Fariha Roisin, (List Price: $26.99, Harper Wave, 9780063077089, June 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

One of the most substantial and honest collections of essays about sex and pleasure I’ve ever read. Each author bares it all in order to give the reader permission to tell the truth about their relationship with sex. By centering voices and experiences that typically get left out of anthologies like this, we get to witness a multidimensional sexuality meditation through the lens of discovery, exploration, and joy. What a gift!

The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, (List Price: $28, Astra House, 9781662650819,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Hansel and Greta by Jeanette Winterson

This book felt like a fever dream in all the wildest ways. From comedic to angering, this book covered an abundance of feelings and topics that made it whole. A fun and much needed adaptation to a classic fairytale. Will stay with you a long time after reading.

Hansel and Greta by Jeanette Winterson, (List Price: $17.95, Haymarket Books, 9781642595765, January 2022)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol

Apostol softly launches you into a landscape of memories and gently reminds book lovers of what it first felt like to envision possibility thanks to literature. Apostol’s reflections on their time during the EDSA rebellion of 1986 teach us just how nuanced and expansive human connections can form if we let them.

Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol, (List Price: $26.00, Soho Press, 9781641292511, January 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Fuzzy, Inside and Out by Zachariah Ohora

SUPER cute book about kindness! Zachariah Ohora does a fantastic job of showing young readers how important acts of kindness are – from how they make people feel to how acts of kindness can impact you as well. Fuzzy is a lovable character that strives to make the world a better place. This is a great book to teach young readers the importance of kindness, discussing feelings, and so much more.

Fuzzy, Inside and Out by Zachariah Ohora, (List Price: $18.99, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 9781419751905, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

New Year by Mei Zihan

When growing up, it is easy to focus on how far you come and how proud you are of yourself, but it is easy to forget how much your parents may miss you and long for your presence. While growing and building your own families, you inevitably separate a little from your own. This book shows readers what a parent may think while their child is off being a grown up – proud but longing for more time with them. Mei Zihan beautifully tells of Lunar New Year and the toll that the holiday season has on him without his daughter at home. Zihan demonstrates how much he misses his daughter while also respecting her growth and being proud of the woman she has become. Beautifully told and illustrated.

New Year by Mei Zihan, (List Price: Greystone Kids, 9781771647311, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Greenville, South Carolina


My Body by Emily Ratajkowski

As a society, we have become wired to see women – especially those in the spotlight – as objects to use to our satisfaction to the point that it is difficult for women to see how we are being used. Emily Ratajkowski has experienced this time and time again as a model and actress – used for her body and being made to feel as though she does not own herself. Throughout these stories, readers are shown how Emily Ratajkowski was and still is treated. This book feels like catching up with an old friend and letting it all out. Ratajkowski discusses important topics that will force you to restructure the way you think of the women who “entertain” you.

My Body by Emily Ratajkowski, (List Price: $26.00, Metropolitan Books, 9781250817860, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida


The Perishing by Natashia Deón

From the first page, Natasha Deón is successful in hooking her audience to the strange and unique journey of Lou. Upon waking up naked in an alley, Lou is confused but feels as if this is not the first time this has happened. With no memory, Lou is placed into a foster home where she flourishes and eventually goes on to grow on her own as an adult. From start to finish, this book has readers on the edge of their seat trying to piece together the information they are receiving from both narrators – Lou and Sarah. Extremely compelling, thought-provoking , and deep, Deón has created a masterpiece of a story.

The Perishing by Natashia Deón, (List Price: $26, Counterpoint, 9781640093027, November 2021)

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida


Idol Gossip by Alexandra Leigh Young

What would you do if you were recruited to be a kpop idol? When Alice Choy moves from San Francisco to Seoul, she gives up her private studies in music and singing lessons in hopes that she’ll be able to finish school like any other seventeen-year-old. But when she’s scouted at a karaoke bar, her life changes in an instant. Alice is swiftly introduced to a world she’s always wanted to explore in the k-pop industry. But, being an idol doesn’t only entail fame or musical prowess–it also comes with jealousy, scandal, and gossip, all on top of the challenges of training in order to be the best performer possible. This was such a fun read and the perfect book for any k-pop fan.

Idol Gossip by Alexandra Leigh Young, (List Price: 18.99, Walker Books US, 9781536213645, 2021-09-14)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Amelia Erroway: Castaway Commander: A Graphic Novel by Betsy Peterschmidt

Any headstrong, capable, smart kid who is misunderstood by adults will see themselves in Amelia Erroway. Amelia is a brilliant girl who wants to follow in her pilot father’s footsteps–against her father’s wishes. When her first attempt at piloting takes her off course, she is introduced to a curious place and a family of people who know she can do whatever she puts her mind to. Peterschmidt’s world is as immersive and entrancing and alien as Treasure Planet, Avatar, and the like, and her story is one to behold.

Amelia Erroway: Castaway Commander: A Graphic Novel by Betsy Peterschmidt, (List Price: 26.99, Graphix, 9781338186147, August 2021)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

The Way She Feels by Courtney Cook

When I picked up Courtney Cook’s book, I immediately read from start to finish. Cook’s personality is bright and poppy, friendly and relatable, and somehow this book maintains a level of kindness and vulnerability even when talking about the scary parts of living with Borderline personality disorder, from self-harm to crippling anxiety and depression, obsessive behavior, and more. Although there are 4 million people in the US that are diagnosed, Borderline personality disorder is still so stigmatized, even as people are starting to recognize and normalize mental illness at large. The Way She Feels is the representation of BPD–from confusing and distressing, to joyful and funny–that is needed right now.

The Way She Feels by Courtney Cook, (List Price: 18.95, Tin House Books, 9781951142599, 2021-06-29)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

In a near-futuristic Toronto, blood contains enough genetic material to determine people’s career, their success, and even love life–and for Voya and her family, it also contains an ancestral link to powerful magic. Until, possibly, Voya. As her bloodline hangs in the balance, Voya has to come to terms with who she is, where she comes from, and who she really loves to become the witch she’s always wanted to be. This futuristic fantasy is POWERFUL, to say the least.

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury, (List Price: 19.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781534465282, June, 2021)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide

At the start of senior year, Devon and Chiamaka are two high-achieving students–prefects, in fact–with promising futures. But soon, mass text messages start going around the school telling their darkest secrets, and start to drive their friendships and all of the hard work they’ve done over the past four years apart. Are Chiamaka and Devon only coincidentally victims of Aces? Or does the anonymous bully targeting the only two Black students at Niveus Academy have a deeper, more disturbing motive? Àbíké-Íyímídé’s thriller brings the psychological subterfuge and toxic relationships of high school social life to light, as two seniors attempt to figure out whether or not their downfall is their own, or a result of a sinister conspiracy.

Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide (List Price: $18.99, Feiwel & Friends, 9781250800817, 6/1/2021)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

The unnamed protagonist in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts reflects on moments of a life lived in solitude, understanding what it means to observe the world around her, and find herself in the context of any given part of it. Even though hers is a mild life with subtle joys, walking the piazza or sitting in cafés when not in the classroom, there are still moments when being alone feels more lonely, enveloping her no matter where she goes. Whereabouts is a contemplative and beautiful story for the introverted, the blissfully isolated, or at the very least, those who, when alone, are able to truly find themselves.

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri (List Price: $24, Knopf, 9780593318317, 4/27/2021)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

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