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10 thoughts on “Like Vanessa

  1. says:

    Like Vanessa is categorized under middle grade and children's fiction but I reckon that it will be appreciated by young adults because of its story and because of how uite long it is The novel is about Vanessa “Nessy” Martin a Black American; a 13 year old and 8th grader at King Middle School who lives with his grandfather cousin and dad in Newark New Jersey Nessy’s mother left them when she was still 4 years old hence she can’t remember any memories she had with her Also she has no idea where her mother is; she wants to ask her dad about her mom but he always evades any uestions about her Nessy’s dad Daniel distanced himself ever since his wife was gone On the other hand her grandpa always reminds her dad that Nessy needs to know the truth about why her mother left them Nessy’s grandfather Pop Pop is a WWII veteran; he and Nessy never failed to watch the TV broadcast of Miss America every year Ever since the pageant first held in 1921 and the first time that a Black American was allowed to join in 1933 there was no successful Black American participant who won the title neither became a runner up The year 1983 is a momentous event because after 50 years a contestant from New York named Vanessa Williams won the prestigious pageant This gave Nessy’s music teacher Mrs Walton the idea to persuade her to also join the very first beauty pageant that will be held at their school Nessy’s grandpa and cousin TJ supports Mrs Walton plan to let her compete in the contest However her dad strongly disapproved of it but they go behind his back just to carefully prepare Nessy for the competitionThe story of Like Vanessa will teach us a lot of things just like beauty is skin deep; the color of your skin doesn’t reflect your personality and traits Loving and accepting yourself is the key to one’s happiness and self fulfillment It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the so called “triple L pageant package” light skin long hair and long legs; because what’s important is what’s beyond that external appearance

  2. says:

    35 stars Overall I enjoyed Like Vanessa but there were a lot of harmful statements that I could’ve lived withoutCheck out my blog for reviews and other bookish posts This is a spoiler free reviewfull reviewI received an e ARC from Charlesbridge through Netgalley in exchange for an honest reviewI feel conflicted about Like Vanessa I enjoyed reading this middle grade novel and I liked Vanessa’s character development but there were some messages that rubbed me the wrong wayI want to read middle grades often but I tend to struggle reading from a child’s point of view Thankfully that wasn’t the case in this novel; it was very accessible for an adult as well This story was diverse the main character and her family is black there is poverty and disability representation and a side character is an immigrantVanessa was flawed and I enjoyed seeing her grow and become confident It broke my heart that she prayed her skin would be lighter I loved that she learned to love herself in the end but it sucks that she had to lose weight in order to be considered beautiful I think the message could’ve been even wonderful if Vanessa could’ve remained fat throughout the book This is how Vanessa describes her body after losing weight “It’s not the boxy shapeless boyish body I’m used to I look like a woman” Being fat doesn’t have anything to do with your genderThough the author mentions in the author’s note that she is still close friends with many of the women she met while doing pageants this book is filled with petty girl on girl hate Especially in an industry that is already considered “bitchy” I would’ve loved to see supportive female friendships The mean girls were all Puerto Ricans; I don’t think any character of Puerto Rican decent was shown in a positive light Further we only got to see how and what Vanessa was doing during the pageant; we didn’t get to know the other contestantsI also have some issues with the ueer representation I am ueer but I am white so I don’t really know how this is handled in other communities Though anti gayness is realistic especially during the 80s I was very hurt by reading about a violent attack on a young gay black man I feel like the attack was used to further Vanessa’s storyline rather than to start a discussion about accepting ueer peopleAdditionally slurs are used and it’s said multiple times that being gay is “different” I don’t think it was necessarily meant in a negative way but different implies that being heterosexual is normal whereas being gay isn’t The gay representation was rather stereotypical though that doesn’t have to be a bad thing I was a bit annoyed though that Vanessa said that “he knows about all things girlified” implying that sexuality has anything to do with genderThere is a character in Like Vanessa who uses drugs though it isn’t mentioned whether they were addicted to it Nonetheless I thought the discussions surrounding this character were very black and white I know it’s hard to accept or understand but doing drugs isn’t always a choice Being addicted to alcohol is accepted in this book but if you’re doing drugs you’re a monster I believe this topic should’ve been approached in a nuanced way especially because Tami Charles mentions the following in the author’s note which isn’t really the message of the story itself “Remember this in life everyone experiences setbacks but those moments don’t have to create the path for how your life will turn out” Like I said I liked this novel but the amount of in my opinion problematic statements definitely lessened my enjoyment Because I read an ARC and no one I know and trust has read this yet I can’t check whether other readers found these examples problematic as well I’d rather warn people too much than have them end up hurt because of mecontent and trigger warning for poverty alcoholism drug use abuse anti gay slurs prison abuse a lot of ableist language physical assault for being gay anti biracial remarks “not really black” and “half black” making fun of someone’s appearance shaming girls who have sex “shameless skanks” cissexist remarks “ a woman can bleed for a whole week” gangs anti fat remarks anti Asian remark? “TJ comes walking down the hall cheesin’ so hard his eyes almost disappear If that boy wasn’t brown skinned with an afro I’d swear he was Chinese”

  3. says:

    Heart wrenching moving and inspirational all at once Who'd have ever thought I'd get involved in the story about a beauty pageant contestant? But this book has so much to offer Vanessa's aspirations go so much deeper than beauty pageants Vanessa dearly wants to be loved and to be considered beautiful Her uest to achieve beauty leads her to the discovery that the beauty is inside herself and it has been there all along Vanessa is so genuine so honest in her thoughts although she sometimes holds back in her words and actions She has such heart I could immediately identify with Vanessa though her world and mine are entirely different Very well written at times heart wrenching and extremely emotionally involving throughout I can highly recommend Like Vanessa for anyone age 12 and older when it comes out in March of 2018 I received a copy of this book from Charlesbridge via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  4. says:

    LIKE VANESSA is a hard hitting take on growing up in public housing in Newark NJ in the early 80's while under the spell of the first ever Black Miss America Vanessa Williams The main character is also named Vanessa and her story of being raised by her alcoholic but well meaning grandfather and her mostly absent father is absolutely heartbreaking The pageant storyline brings up many important and timely themes of race and beauty ideals while Vanessa's cousin's experiences addresses the struggle of being gay as a Black youth in the early '80s in this neighborhood Librarian note this title is being marketed to ages 10 and up but I feel that it reads like an early YA story with the protagonist being in her early teens I will be purchasing this book for my middlehigh school library grades 6 12 but not for my elementary Highly recommended for all libraries serving middle and high school studentsThanks to Charlesbridge for the advance copy of this title all opinions are my own

  5. says:

    Update 11202017 There's a giveaway happening for this book rn Definitely enter it; this is one of my fave releases of 2018 yes I know it's not even 2018 yet but nothing can beat Like Vanessa sorry Everybody's got their rep Mine? I'm like oxygen you know I'm there but you don't see me I shut my mouth I make good grades And when the bell rings at the end of the day I take my butt home close my door and dream of a place far far away from here Holy crap What a book I try to stay away from middle grade realistichistorical fiction because it tends to have a lack of diversity and shies away from important topicswraps everything up in the end with a nice little bow but Like Vanessa shattered every expectation I have of middle grade lit This is a book that parents need to read This is a book that children need to read This is a book that needs to be read in classrooms in homes everywhere It's 1983 and 13 year old Vanessa Martin is full of dreams Dreams of her mama coming back home dreams that her grandfather will stop drinking dreams of winning the Miss America pageant And when I read this book I was caught up in all of her dreams My heart swelled and was broken with hers Characters are what make or break a book for me and they surely made this book The people in Like Vanessa are real and hungry and angry and empty and wanting Vanessa was everything little girls and boys look for in a heroine and the struggles that she goes through are sadly still prevalent issues that children and teens face in America today I also really enjoyed reading about her cousin TJ He loves his family deeply and his struggle to hide his true self is something that many teens can relate to Like Vanessa is a seriously powerful book It caused me to examine my own privilege in a deeper wayThis book deals with a lot of important stuff such as racism colorism classism alcoholism abusive parents drug issues and homophobia but it does it in a way that is subtle enough for Like Vanessa to still read like a middle grade book If I had read this book when I was ten I probably would have not picked up on as much as I did now I would recommend for parents to read this book with their children so that they can answer any uestions they might have But don't be put off by how raw this book is it is definitely full of important lessons that many young kids can benefit from So whether you're looking for the next book to read to your class or a book to read and talk about as a family or if like me you're wanting to venture out of YA for a bit I would highly recommend Like Vanessa It will leave you thinking and wanting It is sure to be one of the best if not the best middle grade books of 2018 Now I can seethe real meaning of beauty and it ain't got nothing to do with having light skin and a little waist All these years of watching the Miss America pageant and I ain't never seen a girl who looked like me And all I ever wanted was to live up to that American definition of beautyBut I can see it now You can't buy beauty or pray for it to come in the form of what you see on the television screen It's just something you gotta be I was given an eARC through NetGalley in exchange for a complete and honest review hooray my first NetGalley

  6. says:

    Like Vanessa felt like a blast from the past for me Although I don't uite remember the eighties fully but I bonded with Vanessa having to be raised by a single father who worked a lot This was a story that definitely gave me the chills It is reality that many lower income families face Having many family members in the home but not a lot of resources Families members that have their own strife I didn't feel like any of the characters fell flat This story is empowering and honestly I wish I could have read this story when I was a tween

  7. says:

    I cannot say enough about this story If you are looking for impactful culturally diverse YA this is your book I was totally immersed in the MC's life from the first few pages Everything I want to rave about would be a spoiler so this is a very short reviewI was approved for an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

  8. says:

    I loved this book I think this is a must order for any public or middle school library Besides being a much needed book with diverse characters and cultural authenticity it is a wonderfully rich and multi faceted story with a positive message about beauty and strength that will have readers reexamining their definitions of beauty and hopefully inspiring them to recognize their own natural beauty Set in the Newark projects in 1983 13 year old Vanessa Martin long time Miss America pageant fan is thrilled and inspired to see Vanessa Williams crowned as the first black Miss America along with Miss New Jersey Suzette Charles who was also black as 1st runner up Vanessa dreams of one day being on the Miss America stage herself though she wishes she fit the conventional standards of what is considered beautiful long wavy hair; light complexion slender but curvy body She sees her hair as too tightly coiled her skin too dark and her body too big and shapeless But an incredible voice a school pageant and a teacher who sees something special in her may come together to give her just the opportunity she needs to pursue her dream IF she can find the confidence and courageWhile the central theme of this story may be facing fears and reexamining beauty it includes several other issues that are all inter related and part of the lives of Vanessa and her family skillfully woven into the story and adding to it rather than detracting from it as often happens when authors take on too much We see the challenges of poverty threats of gang violence touching family relationships as well as difficult ones how families are destroyed by drugs and the lack of tolerance for those who were different We also see typical middle school challenges of fitting in being comfortable in your own skin changing friendships and learning how to recognize true friendsThis story has excellent character development and I immediately fell in love with the characters of Vanessa Pop Pop and TJ While Vanessa's father was a bit of an enigma and a somewhat unsympathetic character at first I always had the feeling that his withdrawal from the family was the result of something painful and traumatic that had happened that they were all keeping from Vanessa I really loved the character of Vanessa's teacher Mrs Walton who turned out to be uite different from the well intentioned but ill prepared typical white teacher who wanted to make a difference but would uickly be overwhelmed and disappear before the end of the semester like Vanessa assumed she would be I thought it was great to show how stereotypes and mistaken assumptions about people based on appearance can go both ways The story moves along at the perfect pace; never dragging but never rushed eitherThis story deals with some serious issues but in an age appropriate way that is not too graphic nor bleak or disturbing The overall tone is inspiring challenging and hopeful The author includes some historical notes at the end about the Miss America pageant and Vanessa Williams as well as about her own background growing up in Newark and competing in pageants herself inspired like the character in the story by Vanessa Williams success I always like it when an author includes historical context and background information I recommend this book for ages 10 through 15 and I think many readers would find the themes relatable; fans of Rita Williams Garcia's Gaither Sisters Series are sure to enjoy this book as well I highly recommend it and would not be surprised to see it as a Coretta Scott King finalist next year if it can get noticedAn impressive debut; I'm eager to see Ms Charles' upcoming picture book and next middle gradeYA novel due out in the next year or twoI received this as a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley due out in March of 2018

  9. says:

    This book was Crazy Good The characters the plot and the writing were all well craftedOh how I loved Vanessa Her story had its differences yet it was so similar and familiar to my own I only wish I had been as brave as her when I was her age Her honesty and vulnerability were so refreshing to see I also loved how she was able to accept responsibility for her mistakes and apologize Her relationship with TJ was probably my favorite I wish every student could have a Mrs Walton I’m grateful that I didThis book covers so much from fatphobia to homophobia alcoholism povertylow income and Tami Charles tackles these subjects in an honest way that is ideal for all ages I’m so glad stories like this are being written and published I would highly recommend this

  10. says:

    It’s 1983 and Vanessa Williams was just crowned Miss America the first black woman to win the title This changes everything for 13 year old Vanessa Martin who watches the Miss America pageant every year with her grandfather and always dreamed of competing someday Strong themes of breaking barriers but the topic wasn’t really my thing Ages 12 and up

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Summary ¹ E-book, or Kindle E-pub ✓ Tami Charles

Like Vanessa

Rated mother she barely remembers a grandfather dealing with addiction and her own battle with self confidence But when a new teacher at school coordinates a beauty pageant and convinces Vanessa to enter Vanessa's view of her own Like Vanessa felt like a blast from the past for me Although I don't uite remember the ei

Summary Like Vanessa

In this semi autobiographical debut novel set in 1983 Vanessa Martin's real life reality of living with family in public housing in Newark New Jersey is a far cry from the glamorous Miss America stage She struggles with an incarce 35 stars Overall I enjoyed Like Vanessa but there were a lot of harmful statements that I

Summary ¹ E-book, or Kindle E-pub ✓ Tami Charles

World begins to change Vanessa discovers that her own self worth is than the scores of her talent performance and her interview answers and that she doesn't need a crown to be comfortable in her own skin and see her own true beaut This book was Crazy Good The characters the plot and the writing were all well craftedOh

  • Hardcover
  • 288
  • Like Vanessa
  • Tami Charles
  • English
  • 26 October 2019
  • 9781580897778