So Rich, So Poor by Peter Edelman

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Rating: 4

So Rich, So Poor encapsulates in 162 pages the forces that keep people in poverty in America. It’s written by Peter Edelman, a lawyer and former policy advisor to Robert F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton. He draws on fifty years of experience in government to give a perspective on poverty in its historical, political, and sociological dimensions.

The book is structured like a research paper with the facts and reasoning of his arguments bookended by an introduction and conclusion (“tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, tell ‘em, tell ‘em what you told ‘em”). This makes it a little bit repetitive, especially about three-quarters in, but it’s set up so that the casual reader can get the general idea by reading only the introduction or conclusion.

Honestly, I still don’t have a great grip on how poverty or welfare really works after reading this book, so this “review” will mostly be notes and highlights, but hopefully it’ll still be informative and thought-provoking. Continue reading

Dawn by Octavia Butler

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Rating: 4

Warning: this review contains spoilers! The other characters withhold a lot of information from the main character, so discussing the themes of this book is really difficult to do without spoiling it. I’m just not going to bother here, and assume you’ve either read the book or don’t care about spoilers.

Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis series establishes its setting in the first book, Dawn. The book takes place after an apocalyptic war that resulted in nuclear winter. Lillith, a young black woman, wakes up not knowing where she is. Soon she finds out that she is on a living spaceship that is inhabited by aliens called Oankali. The Oankali are covered with tentacles with sensory organs on them. At first, Lillith is too horrified to get anywhere close to the Oankali and tries to hide, but it makes her look at it, and little by little, she becomes used to their appearance. Butler does an excellent job of making the aliens feel really alien, and gives readers a good sense of the Oankali’s otherness. Continue reading