I had the amazing opportunity to write up a guest blog post for author Dacia M. Arnold‘s website today! She is an incredible person, and has become a mentor and sister to me on my own journey to becoming an author!
Go check out the article, it’s a first glimpse at my future mommy-to-be blog posts that you’ll see on here. But also, while you’re there, please take some time to check out Dacia’s website and her new book that’s coming out in December, Apparent Power. She’s an incredible writer, and this book is something really unique.
If you like The Hunger Games and Divergent, you’ll like this one–especially if you’re an adult, because in THIS book, the mom saves the world for a change!
I know, right? I’m super original with my black cat named Binx. His name is just a nice little nod to my obsession with Disney, witches, and cats. I have three cats total–Binx, MacKenzie, and Adso. I’m introducing Binx first because he’s my oldest, and the one I adopted first, technically.
Get ready for an intense cat photo-dump, by the way.
I adopted Binx and MacKenzie together at my local animal shelter when I found my first apartment. My move in date was October 5th, 2013. On September 23rd of that year, I found Binx at a local shelter. His name, at the time, was Shadow, and he was about 6 months old. This is the listing photo they used online for him!
I knew I wanted to adopt two cats because I wanted them to be bonded to one another and to be able to keep each other company (and out of trouble) when I wasn’t home! So, my two sisters, Rebecca (older) and Courtney (younger) and I went to the shelter together. I knew that I wanted a black cat. I have always loved black cats. Growing up, we had two cats. Rebecca had a fluffy grey cat named Gizmo and I had a short-haired black cat named Homeless.
Gizmo’s name should be obvious–we were kids of the 80’s and Gremlins was a favorite. But why Homeless? Well, my Rebecca and I were evil children and when we found him outside as a kitten, we brought him in, fed him, and told our father that “We named him Homeless.” Yep, we emotionally manipulated our poor father into letting us keep the cat, and unfortunately for Homeless, the name stuck.
Anyway, when I met Binx, I knew immediately I had to have him. He was adorable, sleek, and incredibly sweet. The whole time I was in the shelter, he was trying to climb me and never wanted to be put down. He just wanted to be held, and pet nonstop. I, foolishly, thought this was adorable. This was the photo, and caption, I uploaded to Facebook after I adopted him:
That same day, I found MacKenzie as well. I’ll tell her story in another post, but obviously, I have to mention her here. She was almost 7 weeks old when I officially adopted her, but since I wasn’t moving into my apartment until October 5th, the shelter kept them until that day. By the time I took her home, she was 9 weeks old. MacKenzie and Binx had not actually met each other at the shelter yet, so the volunteers there were kind enough to do the introductions for me. They quickly bonded to one another.
I went back to visit the cats probably 4 or 5 times in the two weeks between signing papers and actually moving into my apartment. Rebecca came with me and brought her (at the time 2-year-old) son, Jojo. He had a blast playing with the shelter kittens, and quickly fell in love with Binx and Kenzie.
Once I took them home (actually Rebecca and Jojo went to the shelter to pick them up for me while I was moving my furniture into the apartment!) they settled in quickly and it was immediately evident that they were in love with each other, and very happy. (Hnggg ❤ ❤ <3)
So, remember how I said that I thought was cute that he was so clingy and cuddly? Well, five years later, he hasn’t outgrown that. In fact, it’s only intensified. I have never in my life met a cat more obsessed with love, affection (and me) in my life! He goes everywhere I go, constantly underfoot and never out of reach. If I somehow manage to sneak out of a room while he is asleep, he’ll wake up, discover that I am missing, and come bolting through the house to find me.
All of my clothes have tiny holes in them from his nails (which I trim weekly, btw) because if I don’t stop to pick him up or pet him, he will climb me or jump up into my arms and cling to me with his vise-like death grip. Binx rather quickly clawed his way up from pet, to familiar–with NO respect for personal space.
He LOVES his belly rubs…
Even on the few occasions I let him come outside into the backyard with me, he never strays far and basically follows my every step, stopping occasionally to nibble grass or chase a bug.
He also still LOVES Jojo, and now his little sister Emma. He also loves my newest nephew, 9-month-old Jonathan and lets him pull on his fur and smack him without complaint. (I don’t let him do these things, but let’s be real, he’s a baby and doesn’t understand gentle yet. We’re working on that.) (PS Look at how BIG Jojo is omg…)
He is CUNNING.
I mean, I think he grows thumbs when I’m not looking because he can open ANY cabinet in the house, any drawer in the house, AND knows how to open non-screw-top tupperware. NO FOOD WILL EVER BE SAFE. I keep EVERYTHING in the fridge, whether it’s a refrigerated item or not lmao.
He also LOVES his cats to death. Yes, his cats. I realized long ago that I don’t actually have three cats–I have one cat, and my cat has two cats. I think my phone photos are 99% Binx cuddling with one or both of his cats.
Oh, did I mention that he drools? Yeah–that’s a thing! Like, BUCKETS. Any time he comes for cuddles (which is relentlessly 24/7), he starts purring like a motorboat and drooling like a faucet–not even a leaky faucet, just a constant stream of slimy cat slobber! He’s lucky I love him, cause gross. He sleeps in bed with me every night. All three of them do, but he sleeps UNDER the covers curled up in my arms every single night, with his face tucked into the crook of my neck, or nestled into my shirt or hair. He kneads my neck or shoulder or face, and I am very thankful that he lets me trim his nails every week without complaint.
I feel like there is a LOT more to say about Binx and how intensely weird and loving he is, but I’m just going to toss a slideshow below with a few more entertaining photos of him. His birthday is March 27th, btw.
DISCLAIMER: This story will contain NSFW scenes and situations, including male/male sexual situations and strong themes of BDSM. This story is available on my patreon: http://www.patreon.com/kaitlynabdou
Victor had been watching him now for the last ten minutes from the large window, four stories up over Boylston Street. He stared through the reflection of his black and gray suit in the window, simply enjoying the view. The unleased office around him was silent, though the whistles, music, and cheering form the parade below could be clearly heard even through the thick glass. The boy—or, perhaps young man was a better term, as he was clearly fully grown—was walking in the parade behind an impressive float filled with drag queens and men in various states of undress, decorated with rainbows and tutus.
He was laughing, Victor could tell even from this high up by the way he threw his head back carelessly. His black hair was too long and left loose and wavy, falling into his eyes often enough that he seemed to be continually brushing it back out of his face. He was dancing to the music playing on the float, with a bunch of shiny, plastic bead necklaces thrown over one arm. He tossed them into the watching crowd and sometimes hurried to a group of people with their arms outstretched to hand them each a necklace.
People grabbed him, groped him, pulled him in for hugs. He hardly seemed to mind any of it. He was dazzling.
Of course, part of that was due to the rainbow that had been painted on his bare stomach and chest in glitter bodypaint. It ran from the waistband of his very-short shorts and curved across toned but barely-there abs and chest, over one shoulder and onto his back, where it broke up into a pattern of swirls. It was blinding in the sunlight, but the colors of the rainbow were clear. The unpainted part of his skin seemed to glitter as well, though Victor could not tell if it was from glitter or rhinestones that so many people seemed to have glued to themselves for the celebration.
Even his legs glittered, from what looked to be fishnet stockings with rhinestones on them. He wore knee-high rainbows-striped socks and bright red sneakers. He should have looked ridiculous, but today he blended in with the crowd. Victor wasn’t even sure what it was about the boy—young man, he had to get out of that habit, not everyone younger than him was a ‘boy’—that drew his attention, but he hadn’t been able to stop watching him in the slow progress of the parade from the moment he laid eyes on him. For a moment, he was riveted by a brief fantasy of that body glitter covering the sheets of his bed.
Victor was pulled from his thoughts when he rainbow-painted boy stopped suddenly in front of an especially raucous crowd of young men. He seemed to be studying something on one of their shirts, though Victor could not see what it was from this angle. Then, his walking fantasy smiled, kissed the young man standing in front of him on the mouth and threw a string of red beads over his head before hurrying off to catch up with his float.
Victor felt the corner of his mouth quirk up in amusement at the way the young man’s friends cheered and jostled his shoulders, even as he covered his face with embarrassment. Recently out and celebrating his first Pride Festival, Victor assumed. “Cute,” he muttered to no one in particular. He shook his head and let his eyes roam the street for the object of his earlier attention.
The boy—yes boy, damn it—was already halfway down Boylston Street now, coming up to The Rattlesnake Bar. Victor glanced down at his watch and swore softly. He couldn’t linger here any longer. He grabbed his duffel bag and left the empty office.
I know you can see it in your mind: a published book with your name on the cover. Readers crowding in to be a part of your book signing event.
But right now, that novel is just a bunch of ideas bouncing around in your head.
So how do you get from here…to there?
Start with your Daily Action Calendar, which is available to you when you join our online writing group, the (brand new) Better Writers Club!
Think of your Daily Action Calendar as a straight line from where you are now to the virtual shelves of Amazon, and even your local bookstore.
Every day, your Calendar gives you one simple action you can take to move forward on your novel. No more wondering what you’re supposed to be doing and when, while feeling more and more overwhelmed and then losing motivation altogether.
Please excuse me while I go full fangirl, but if you’ve spent any time asking for recs on the LGBTQReads Tumblr, you know that Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit falls out of my mouth about twelve times a day. So how psyched am I to be revealing the cover of Jaye Robin Brown‘s next f/f YA, The Meaning of Birds, which releases on April 16, 2019?? (Very. Is that not obvious? I’m sorry, I thought it was obvious.) Here’s the story behind the story:
Before: Ever since her father’s death, Jessica has struggled with the anger building inside her. And being one of the only out teens in school hadn’t helped matters. But come sophomore year, all that changes when effervescent Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent…
I have been keeping fish for about 14 years now. It all started with a free goldfish that I won at a college orientation event. A bowl became a 10-gallon tank, and then a 29-gallon tank when I did my research and learned about the actual needs of a goldfish. A couple of years later, my goldfish, Hyacinth, died.
I was devastated.
I know, you’re rolling your eyes and saying “It’s just a fish.” But, he wasn’t just a fish. I had spent countless hours researching and caring for this fish. I had done everything I could to make sure his habitat was perfect and that he was healthy, so his death was a blow.
Of course, eventually, I recovered and decided to try my hand at tropical fish keeping. Within a year, I had a beautiful live-planted tropical aquarium running with a beta fish, some schooling fish, and my first pleco (after an algae incident.) He was a bristlenose pleco, only an inch long, and the ugliest thing I had ever seen in my life.
Bristlenose plecos are smaller than the 2-foot-long common plecos people are familiar with. They only grow to somewhere between 6-8 inches long and eat algae and driftwood. You can see the driftwood in the photo above, though my pleco is hiding in it, as he often did during the day.
Male bristlenose plecos live up to their names and grow horrifying-looking bristles on their face as they reach maturity. Females do not grow bristles, however.
Their average life-span is about 12 years, so they can live for quite a while. Though I was not particularly attached to my own pleco at first, after he began to develop his bristles (and I got over how terrifying they looked) I actually really grew to love him the best. He quickly became my favorite fish, and was the only fish in the tank, aside from my beta fish, who was given a name. I named him Davey Jones, and called him Jonesy for short. Even my mother, who hated my fish tank, loved Jonesy and would sneak him treats of cucumber or zucchini when I wasn’t home.
When I moved out of my parents’ house 5 years ago, I upgraded from a 29-gallon tank to a 55-gallon tank. Jonesy came with me, along with a few other fish and all my plants and driftwood. As of today, I have had the same community going (Jonesy being the only original fish) for the past 11 or 12 years.
Tonight, after getting home from a long shitty day, (I spent 4 hours sitting around in a car dealership and left with no car. :|) I went into the living room to feed the fish and found Jonesy dead on the floor of the tank.
Of course, I was upset. My heart broke for my uniquely ugly pet fish whom I’d had for my entire adult life (I bought him when I was twenty! Please don’t do math right now).
After recovering from the initial shock of finding him, and realizing that he likely died of old age and nothing I did, I carefully scooped him up, wrapped his body and disposed of him. I kept my composure. I was sad, but he was an old fish and I took great care of him.
When I went back to the tank to feed the rest of my fish, a thought that has been nagging at the back of my head for about the last year-and-a-half or two years came back. I ought to sell my set up. I had considered it before buying the house–it has been getting hard to keep up with maintenance as my life has gotten more and more hectic, and I have slowly begun to lose my love of fishkeeping.
Adding on top of that my workload, and the fact that I am hoping to have a baby by this time next year (I know I haven’t written anything about that yet–it’s coming!), I realized it was probably best for the fish and myself if I sold the whole set-up to someone who had the time and the energy needed to take care of a tank this size. The one thing that had been holding me back for the last year was Jonesy and how attached I was to him.
I took to Facebook and posted in a fishkeeping group about my loss and explained that I was considering selling the whole set up for reasons a, b, c and x.
At first, people were kind and offered condolences and advice on selling my set up. Some complimented me on the beauty of my tank, others suggested bringing the last few fish to a fish store and selling off the set up piece-by-piece.
Then, someone commented saying that I was a disgusting person for giving up my aquarium in exchange for a “human brat.” This someone was some rando 20-year-old kid, so I really didn’t care about his opinion and told him so. Then, it escalated. Women with children began to shame me and rub in my face that they had children AND fish tanks. Men commented saying how many kids they had and pointed out that THEY never gave up THEIR fish.
I was annoyed and hurt. I didn’t owe them an explanation. I reported the comments to group admins and tagged admins but after over an hour, none of them had done anything. The comments continued to escalate. A few people defended me, but they got worse and worse. I was called a “shit person” a “whore” and told to kill myself.
Now, as a woman, I get comments like this every day on Facebook. MANY women do. Usually, I report the idiot and move on. Tonight, it hurt though. Tonight, I was grieving for the loss of a beloved pet, and looking for advice, and I was told instead that I would be a shitty mother and that I should just kill myself.
Why do people think it’s okay to say things like that to other people? The anonymity of the internet, even if you are using a Facebook account with your real name and photo, makes people into monsters. No administrator in the group did anything to stop this, and in the end, I deleted the post and left the group like a coward.
Now, I’m exhausted from a bad day, upset over the death of my favorite fish, and feeling hollow inside because I ran away from the onslaught of insults being thrown at me instead of facing them and standing my ground. I feel like a failure, even though logically I know that I am not and I know that what these random people on the internet have to say doesn’t matter.
Still, it hurts. Especially when I am feeling like crap already because my pet died–it hurts. I didn’t deserve to be treated like that. No one does.
It’s one thing to get into a flame-war with someone on Facebook. Many of us are guilty of it–I am guilty of it. But I have never told someone to go kill themselves. I have never stooped to bullying someone for no reason other than the fact that I could, and they could do nothing about it.
Bullying is nothing new–and neither is internet bullying. This month alone, Star Wars star Kelly Marie Tran deleted social media accounts because people were bullying and harassing her so much that she felt she had no other choice. Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown deactivated her Twitter after so-called fans made a slew of homophobic memes (during PRIDE MONTH) using her photos. The world is fucked up.
Anyway, I’m sorry that this post is a downer, but I felt like I had to get it off my chest somehow. I’ve been crying for the past two hours and I’m not even sure why. I’ll be fine in the morning, I’m sure–but tonight my heart is aching and my ego has been struck a solid blow.
I am so excited to announce that my friend Dacia’s incredible book Apparent Power is finally up for pre-order!! Please go check it out and support her! Her writing his beautiful and she is a wonderful person to boot! Who doesn’t love a story where the MOM saves the day!?
Let me start this off by apologizing! I had intended on writing this blog ON Saturday after the Pride Festival but got into a car accident (mild fender bender!) on my way home. After that my whole evening was shot, and Sami and I opted to drop in on my parents’ house to use their hot tub (which was awesome!) to soothe our aching legs. After that, I got caught up in sewing commissions, and writing Chapter 11 of The Daffodil Witch! (It’s here, go read it!! But after you read this haha.)
ANYWAY, Boston Pride! Let me tell you all about it and how AMAZING it was!
BEFORE THE PARADE
Leading up to pride, I knew that I didn’t want to just show up, watch the parade, and be done with it! I wanted to leave an impact somehow, even if it was only on a few people. A few years ago my father took me to NYC for New York Pride while on a business trip and I had dyed a rainbow streak into my hair in anticipation of it!
This year, I wanted to do something more and really make an effort. I wanted to be involved somehow, but it was too late to organize anything big!
I ordered myself an awesome ace pride pin (which I have been wearing every day since), did my nails in the ace flag colors, and made a rainbow flower crown to start!
Was that enough? Nope! I also ordered a bunch of mini rainbow flags and a roll of 500 heart pride stickers to hand out to people! THOSE were a huge hit! You would be amazed at how excited people got over the stickers. Even on the train into the city before Pride started, I ended up hanging out stickers!
Look at Sami, isn’t she cute? That brings me to our awesome outfits. Sami is a huge Star Wars nerd and had only JUST come out as a demisexual lesbian after a long time of questioning. She decided to rock her pride and ended up buying a really awesome pin while we were there!
I went into the city with Sami and Brendan, who is part of what I refer to affectionately as my ‘game night crew,’ a tight-knit group of friends who I see weekly for games and what we deem real-talks (I’ll talk more about that in another blog post! But we talk about some pretty serious topics and are all very close.) Brendan is not queer, but he was the one who wanted most to go to Boston Pride. He’s the best sort of ally you could want!
How fabulous are we?! And yes, Brendan IS doing the same pose in both photos. He’s a great ally and a great friend, but also a huge dork. See my skirt?! I struggled at first with the decision on my skirt. I knew I would make something festive, but I originally figured I would make a rainbow skirt to be super festive! Then it dawned on me that I could actually represent MYSELF as an ace at Boston Pride instead of just going in with the classic rainbow. I took to Facebook, and overwhelmingly, my friends suggested I go with the ace colors.
You can’t tell here, but each fabric is SUPER glittery, and Sami’s fishnets are covered in rhinestones. We like to be seen from space. If you ask either of us what our favorite color is, the answer will be, without hesitation: glitter!
OKAY so, on to the parade itself!
Once we got into the city, it was a sea of rainbows, pink and glitter! We really couldn’t stop smiling and looking around. Rainbows were plastered in business windows, and flags were EVERYWHERE. It was an amazing feeling for me, as someone who has been out as queer almost my entire life–a feeling of being at home, of being safe, of being loved and included: a feeling of recognition. I can’t even imagine what Sami was feeling. Up until that moment, she had really only come out to maybe one or two people, and even when she came out to me it had been with the question of “am I allowed to identify as a lesbian if I dated a guy for so long?”
We ran into lots of awesome people we know, which was great! Took plenty of selfies. The first person we saw was our friend Danielle. Danielle is a wonderful specimen who somehow manages to show up everywhere at everything, and I run into her no matter where I go–EVEN IF IT IS IN A DIFFERENT STATE. We also saw my friend Lyndsey, who was representing fabulously in a Katsuki Yuri from YURI ON ICE! cosplay. Both of them walked in the parade (which we had planned to do until we got distracted by the lure of Starbucks coffee! Whoops!) Shortly after the parade started, we were joined by my friend Emmy, her younger sister and her friend Jennifer, who twinned with her in Wonder Woman regalia! (Don’t they look great?!)
The parade was amazing, of course! There was lots of free swag! Sami even got me this AWESOME Aladdin magnet, which I adore with every fiber of my being. (In case you don’t know, Aladdin is my FAVORITE Disney movie and always has been!)
The parade itself was LONG, as to be expected. I tried to take as many photos as I possibly could (I am not a photographer, and am used to not taking photos ever at events because I get immersed in them.) My phone died after a few hours and I wasn’t able to take as many as I would have liked, but here is just a bunch of them in a slideshow for you:
Yes, I had a BLAST. I loved the parade. I screamed so much I was sure I would lose my voice. I saw SO many flags and so much diversity… but I noticed that ONE thing was missing: I didn’t see a single ace flag in the entire parade. Did this ruin my experience? Not at all, I still had an amazing time–but it did stick with me that I didn’t see Black, Grey, White, Purple anywhere in the parade, and it made it that much more poignant that I had decided to wear my own flag to proudly represent asexuals.
The whole day, my companions and I were inactively on the lookout for more ace flags. We saw maybe three total the whole day, and I’m sure those people bought them ahead of time and brought them with them. This is why I am so happy I wore my ace colors rather than only rainbow.
I had at least fifteen instances where someone came up to me and thanked me for wearing the ace colors, or complimented me on my skirt and pointed out that they, too, were ace! I WISH my phone had not died, for I would have taken a selfie with every one of them to share with you. Alas, all I can do is share those moments that stuck out to me the most.
One girl I had noticed was lingering with her friends behind us outside of Starbucks as we watched the parade. They weren’t standing WITH the parade onlookers, but up against the building. I had noticed a few times that they were looking at me, and thought maybe they wanted a sticker. Before I could offer one, I was distracted by friends joining us.
Maybe a half hour into the parade, one of the girls stepped over and tapped my shoulder.
“I love your skirt,” she said. Her voice was weak and quiet, and I could tell she was shy.
I offered her a big smile and thanked her. Then she showed me the small, ace-flag earrings she wore and the ace-flag nail polish she had done and smiled shyly at me. I think she was probably in her teens. She was small, shy, and intimidated looking. I told her they were awesome, gave her and all her friends stickers. Then I saw a look in her eye and knew that she was going to cry. I hugged her tightly, and she held on for a while.
Even as I’m writing this, I’m tearing up myself. I don’t think she expected to see ace representation at the parade. Asexual erasure is a real problem–with the queer AND straight community. I touched on this before in my Pride Month post. We are made to feel like we don’t exist like we aren’t valid. I hope that this moment, for her, was an eye-opener. I hope she feels valid now, because I am sure by the way she cried and was afraid at first to look me in the eye that she was not at all confident in herself.
This happened over and over throughout the day. I got hugs, I was thanked, I had people scream “I LOVE YOUR SKIRT!” over the crowds of people when they couldn’t get close enough. People showed me their small, and sometimes hidden, ace memorabilia. One girl who had to have been 13 if she was a day ran up to me with wide eyes, took my hands and said. “You are beautiful!”
I was overwhelmed by her.
Next year, I am already planning to attend pride again, but I want to REALLY make a difference this time. I want to register in the parade and form a group of asexual and demisexual people to walk with. I want us to fly our flags proudly, to wear our flags, to carry signs that remind everyone that WE EXIST and WE ARE VALID.
Sami was also inspired by pride. She wants to organize a cosplay group to walk in the parade for next year–and has even made a group on Facebook (a global group) for LGBTQ+ Cosplayers! She wanted to create a safe place for queer cosplayers to gather, network, chat and share! Check it out!
Thank you to everyone who came to me to show their appreciation for my representation. Thank you for making my Boston Pride experience so memorable!
We made this group after coming together in a Beta Reader’s group on Facebook, discussing how it was difficult to find an active group for LGBT+ writers or writers who write with LGBT+ characters and themes. Now, of course, there are lots of amazing writers groups on facebook! I am in quite a few of them, and utilize them all! But, sometimes you need to ask serious questions about representation, sensitivity, or, dare I say it, sex–and you don’t want to be mocked by Joe Schmoe in that group with 50k+ members in it.
That is where Writers of Queer Fiction comes in! We offer a safe place to ask these questions. We are a group for writers and readers. That’s right–you don’t have to be a writer to join! If you are just an avid reader, or someone who can offer valuable feedback to the writers in this group, we will welcome you with open arms! We have been active for about three weeks now, and have already formed friendships! We share funny stories, queer experiences, sad stories. We comfort each other and offer support and advice for those who seek it!
Every Wednesday, we come together to do a group workshop for one randomly selected writer! So far, the workshops have gone swimmingly! Aspiring M/M romance author Grayson Bell even tweeted about his experience with the workshop:
Reading that made my heart soar. I am excited to be able to help other writers in this way and to form these wonderful relationships with other blossoming talents! We have a really amazing array of talent in the group too–from LGBT+ children’s book writers to romance writers, mystery writers and even a fair share of erotica!
Basically what I am trying to say here is: COME JOIN US! We are awesome and what better time to join a new queer family than Pride Month!?
I do not like sports. That isn’t to say that I hate them, but I have never been very interested in sports in general. That being said, I could watch ice skaters all day—though I’m not sure if that’s because I enjoy ice skating, or because I’m in awe of what they do. I cannot ice skate.
Anyway, I happened across Angie Abdou through a funny exchange on Twitter–something that may be the purest interaction I have ever had on the platform! Fellow hopeful #CarinaPitch participant and new author Alex Rettie introduced us. To think, had I never commented on his post, I’d have never met my ‘long-lost cousin.’
Thanks to Alex, a new friendship blossomed! And, I have a new cousin! 🙂 Now, whether we are blood-related or not, Angie is a fellow Syrian and a fellow Abdou, so she is my cousin no matter what. Anyway, that night I bought The Bone Cage and put my other book on hold so I could read it immediately. Three days later, I had finished the book and decided that since it is the first book I’ve finished since starting my blog, it would also be the first book I review!
Now, please bear with me here, as this is my first real book review.
The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou
Book description, borrowed from Goodreads:
Digger, an 85 kilo wrestler, and Sadie, a 26-year-old speed swimmer, stand on the verge of realizing every athlete’s dream–winning a gold medal at the Olympics. Both athletes are nearing the end of their athletic careers, and are forced to confront the question: what happens to athletes when their bodies are too old and injured to compete? The blossoming relationship between Digger and Sadie is tested in the all-important months leading up to the Olympics, as intense training schedules, divided loyalties, and unpredicted obstacles take their draining toll. The Olympics, as both of them are painfully aware, will be the realization or the end of a life’s dream.
The book starts out by throwing you immediately into the story. You have no time to think before the story just starts. Instantly, you’re sucked into Digger’s psyche. The descriptions are amazing, I honestly felt like I was standing right there with Digger.
Digger has always been a good sweater. He’s only just stepped into the sauna and already he can feel the itch of sweat behind his ears, around his hairline, along his spine. It’s a natural talent his teammates envy, especially at a time like this.
The entire book is like this–descriptions that yank you right into the story and make you forget everything going on around you.
This book is not one I would usually buy. As I have mentioned before, I don’t usually read contemporary, and I definitely don’t read about sports. That being said, I am so glad I did buy this one. Every other chapter is dedicated to one character–following Digger first, then Sadie, and back and forth. By the end of chapter 2, I was 100% invested in both characters. Present tense is not something I am a fan of, and this book is entirely written in present tense. However, it really, really works here.
Because of the style, I really felt connected to the characters. I cared about them–and I really got a feeling for their very different personalities. Both characters have very similar goals–they want to go to the Olympics, and they want to succeed. Both are afraid that they are becoming too old for their sports, and that this is their last chance at accomplishing their dreams.
Yes, the pool, always her centre, has lost its hold. What, she wonders, has held the whole thing together this long? I have an intense burning desire to be a champion. That was the phrase she learned at National Youth Team swim camps. I have an intense burning desire to be a champion. They repeated the mantra over and over—a room full of fourteen-year-olds chanting the words in unison. I have an intense burning desire to be a champion.
For a while, both characters follow their own path and they do not interact with one another. By the time they do meet each other, I couldn’t help but feel ridiculously excited. (“Omg he’s talking about Sadie! They’re gonna meet!”)
I loved how they interacted with each other and the people around them. I loved the descriptions of the characters and the little glimpse into each one’s personality and life through the eyes of the two POV characters. What I loved the most about this book, however, was how invested I was in them, especially as someone who really doesn’t have any interest in sportketball of any kind. It was beautifully, masterfully written in a way that could hold anyone’s interest. You don’t need to love sports, or even know anything about them, to love this book. This book is about people. It’s about hope, determination, relationships, and sacrifice.
Angie found the perfect balance between giving the reader a ton of information about each sport (swimming and wrestling) but not making you feel like it was all a big infodump. I was never left wondering why they were doing something or how things worked, but I also never once felt like I was being preached at or sitting in on some kind of lesson about sports.
The big question: would I read more by Angie? Absolutely! I already have plans to buy more of her books once I finish with To Green Angel Tower by Tad Williams. Her books are a refreshing change from what I usually read, and if her characterization and description in her other books are anything like they are in The Bone Cage, I would read every word she has ever written in a heartbeat.