Know My Name by Chanel Miller

[Reviewed by Zissy]


In a nutshell

Know My Name by Chanel MillerThe world was first introduced to Chanel Miller as Emily Doe – the woman Brock Turner was found sexually assaulting on the Stanford campus. Her voice and knack for writing were introduced to us over a year later, when her Victim Impact Statement was published on Buzzfeed and subsequently went viral. Her statement resonated so sharply with other sexual assault survivors it was said to be the blueprint of what happens to sexual assault victims and insight into the hesitancy of so many to come forward. That statement would be translated around the world, read on the floor of congress, on national news stations and inspire changes in California Law as to what constitutes rape.


In her memoir, Know My Name, Chanel Miller introduces the world to Chanel – as she reclaims back her identity and tells her story of trauma, transcendence and the power of words. We get a glimpse into the writer, comedian, artist and multifaceted person that makes up Chanel Miller and her unwavering support system of family, friends and professionals.


BookClub Notes

If you read Chanel’s victim impact statement, you’ll know that she’s a brilliant writer and can articulate an experience so well it’s like you are witnessing it first-hand. Her debut book is unsurprisingly a brilliant must read, despite its often at times hard to swallow content.

She writes without filter, shows you who she is – that she is more than the one dimensional “victim” portrayed by the media and courtroom. She lets you into the shadows of a sexual assault case – the manipulation, isolation, shame and humiliation she endured to fight what should have been a clear-cut case. He was caught, evidence secured, it was a clear-cut case. Yet she went through a system designed to isolate her and place blame, while simultaneously include Brock into a group of “everyone does this, it’s nothing” and make excuses.

It is an incredible look into the psychology of the court system and the defence, privilege and the way society view women and victims of sexual assault. More importantly, it reveals who Chanel was and is, and in her own words “I did not come into existence when he harmed me. She found her voice! I had a voice, he stripped it, left me groping around blind for a bit, but I always had it. I just used it like I never had before”. Through personal stories – past and present you learn that she’s always been an incredible writer and force, we just never knew her name before.

At the end of the book, Chanel says that her job is to observe, feel, document, report. And when people say I can’t imagine, she must find a way to imagine. And she does that throughout this book, she brings her experience to life and it’ll make you mad, sad, angry and hopeful.


The Weight of Skin by Alastair Bruce

[Reviewed by Zissy]


In a Nutshell

The Weight of Skin by Alastair BruceThis political novel revolves around the protagonist – Jacob Kitara. A man who once held a high position in the South African government and now finds himself exiled in London. But London has turned dark due to social unrest and he spends his days taking in wounded compatriots and nursing them in a boarded-up building. One day a man shows up who claims to be Jacob’s son, a man Jacob believes to be dead. He offers a confused and angry Jacob a chance to return to his homeland to right the wrongs of the past. The novel flits between present day London with its empty streets, heavy police presence and dark mood; to his past in South Africa which faced social unrest and power plays.


Book Club Notes

Maybe it was the timing that I picked up this book, as the world started shutting down due to Coronavirus, that led to me not enjoying it. Maybe it was just the story, with its barren streets and social unrest felt a little too end of the world. I found it dark and depressing, the story unfolding behind a blurred screen that I expected to clear as the book ended. But it never did, and I found myself at the end feeling unsatisfied.


Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

[Reviewed by Zissy]


In a Nutshell

Saving Missy by Beth MorreyThis novel revolves around Missy, a 79-year-old woman who lives alone. An ocean away from her son and beloved grandson and miles away from the daughter she barely speaks to. Her days follow the same monotonous routine, until a chance encounter at the park with two women. They befriend the lonely Missy and slowly draw her out of her isolation and allow her to give herself a second chance at life.


Book Club Notes

This is a light novel and it was the perfect read to ease me back into regular reading. I was fully invested within the first chapter and enjoyed all those that followed.  It’s an enjoyable and easy read that highlights the importance of social connection. It’s a feel-good story that’s part bittersweet, uplifting and hopeful. And despite it being an easy read, it had an ending I never saw coming.


Gemini Man by Titan Books

[Reviewed by Feige]


In a nutshell

Gemini Man by Titan BooksGemini Man is the official movie novelization of the movie Gemini Man. It tells the story of Henry Brogan, an elite assassin who decides to retire. Upon retirement he becomes a target of a mysterious operative ad quickly learns that the man trying to kill him is a younger and faster cloned version of himself.


Bookclub notes

If you’ve watched the movie, you’re going to want to give this a skip. If you haven’t watched the movie, I sense that the movie is better than the book. It is a gripping story that catches your attention. But, with most of the book being action packed chase scenes, despite the level of detail given to depict them, I can see them playing out better on screen.


Red Sea Spies by Raffi Berg

[Reviewed by Feige]


In a nutshell

Red Sea Spies by Raffi BergRed Sea Spies is the true story of Mossad’s fake diving resort. Set up in the early 1980’s and fully functional as a luxury diving resort, it was run by the Israeli Secret Service as a front to rescue Ethiopian Jews out of refugee camps in Sudan and bring them to Israel.


Bookclub Notes

When I read the book synopsis, I was eager to give this a read. I wasn’t familiar with the story and it sounded like it would be gripping.


I was expecting it to be written as a story, but instead it’s written more in a journalistic voice as a historical account. This makes complete sense given that the book is written by Raffi Berg, a BBC News Editor who took on the task of telling the complete tail for the first time. He did this by collaborating with the secret service agents involved in the mission. Given that an afterword by the Director of the Mossad at the time, praises Berg for “the true and most accurate story” you begin to appreciate how he put it all together more.


This is a powerful and gripping story that highlights some of the best of human nature. It opens your eyes up to tragedies that happen in the world that often seem too far off to have anything to do with you. What these agents accomplished to do, selflessly for the betterment of people who had nothing directly to do with them is incredible and inspiring.


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