Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Haley Reading (Group B) -- American Spy, reflections


[Haley Reading groups Fall 2020


We've read about two dozen books over the years as part of our Haley Reading group. But lately, we have not read much fiction. 

This semester, however, we read the novel American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. 

What did you enjoy or find most rewarding about reading the book? And, what did you view as a challenge concerning the reading experience?

53 comments:

Linda H. said...

What I found most rewarding about reading American Spy was the similarities that I could find between Marie and myself. I wanted to be a spy so bad when I was little and reading this makes me glad I didn't. I can relate to feeling like you don't want to be tricked into doing something, or striving not to be naive. Marie seemed to always be internally thinking that she shouldn't do something and yet would go along with it anyway. Reading this has reinforced my belief that I should be listening to my first feelings about a situation.

-Linda H.

Evan S. said...

I enjoyed reading a book that was socially and culturally relatable to me as well as entertaining and action-packed. The book was a very provocative and thought-provoking story with many twists and turns. When reading it, I sometimes felt like I was watching a movie because I was so entertained. I think even though the book was a fiction, its narrative was very honest and made me think about what my own behavior would be if I was in similar scenarios.

Kayla Person said...

The fact that this novel has a Black woman as the main character is what I found most rewarding. Growing up, I used to read a lot of books similar to this one, but none of the characters looked like me. It is important to have positive representations of oneself and I loved that this book delivered that.

-Kayla P.

Mackenzie Cohoon said...

I really enjoyed reading American Spy not only because it was nice to read fiction for a change, but also because the character was so relatable. When I saw it was a spy novel I expected it to be filled with action and excitement, but I did not expect to be able to relate to the main character at all. However, the fact that the main character was a black woman who went through normal everyday struggles and felt normal everyday feelings really allowed me to enjoy the story so much more beyond the action.
-Mackenzie Cohoon

Jaydyn Zykan said...

Personally, I preferred reading this fiction novel over the typical nonfiction selections in the past. The thing I found most rewarding was finally seeing a strong and independent black woman as the main character. A majority of the books I have read typically have a white person as the main character; this novel was refreshing. Likewise, it has made me more conscious of the novels I choose to read and purchase in the future.
-Jaydyn Zykan

Samantha A. said...

I enjoyed reading a fiction book as it was a pleasant change from my textbooks. It was quite rewarding reading a book about a strong, independent African American woman being a spy as there are not many books or movies about that. It was fun reading about her perseverance through a manipulating and sexist field. It was a challenge to find time to read outside of classes and study, but I was able to find time and I quite enjoyed it.

-Samantha A.

Unknown said...

I like that we focused on a different genre this year. Even though we read fiction, we can still learn from the text. It would be nice to see this trend continue, with each year a different genre to keep things engaging! Additionally, I appreciated my race being represented in this book. Few understand the impact representation can make for all races, abilities, and genders in books and media.

-Madalynn McKenzie

Alleson Huntspon said...

I enjoyed this book because I’ve always said if I didn’t purse a career in medicine, I would do some type of criminal justice work. So it was great to read a book that had to do with some of the things that I really enjoy learning about in life. As well as it’s always rewarding reading a book where I can personally relate to the main character! The book was fairly short so it was a easy quick read to keep up with, which is a plus! I definitely think this book needs a sequel, I’d be really interested. I didn’t have any challenges reading American Spy, I feel with Covid I had a lot more time to stay inside and read! -Alleson H.

Vanessa H. said...

As this is my third full semester with the Haley reading I can say I most enjoyed this semester. Having a good continuous book to follow along the whole semester has been a good change from the previous semesters. I especially enjoyed this book as although it was fiction, it followed many real world scenario. Marie being a black woman in America during the late 1900's set her up with a lot of challenges to overcome. The book has me wanting to know more the whole time, if there were a sequel to this book I would be greatly interested to see how Maries hunt for Ross will end. Overall I have no complaints about this reading, I enjoyed learning a little about the spy world.

Alexis S. said...

I enjoyed the fact that we got to read a different genre that was action packed and taught different lessons. It was a nice change from the books that we have previously read that had a big focus on nature. I also liked the fact that the book focused on a strong black woman that overcame different challenges and struggles throughout her life while also having the really cool job of being a spy. Overall the book was very enjoyable!

- Alexis S.

Breanna J said...

As I mentioned in my first blog post, the thing I found most rewarding about this novel is that the protagonist is a black woman, just like me. Not only does it increase representation for black women, but it also doesn't perpetuate stereotypes and misconceptions about black women. I also appreciate that it follows a black woman, but is about something new. What I mean by that is that I'm glad that it's just another story about slavery or matters of the like. Her race does not define her or her story and that's important to me. The only thing I found maybe a bit challenging was how the story sometimes jumped between time periods; that has never been my favorite element of some movies and novels.

LaTrina Brown said...

I really enjoyed how I could relate to this reading slightly because the main character is African American. I never really read many books that has a black woman as the main character, so I liked how that made me interested in the beginning. I did not have many challenges reading the book despite being confused in the beginning. It was a great read.

Kenisha Townsend said...

What I found most rewarding about this book is the fact that the main character was a black woman who was a spy. This representation is needed in novels and films. I also loved how we were able to see the struggles she experienced in her role as a black, female spy. The challenge I encountered during this reading experience was finding the time to read the book as I have a busy schedule.

Kenisha T.

Arielle S. said...

What I found to be the most rewarding about reading this novel was that she was a woman of color exceeding in a white man's field of work. Being Black is a struggle within itself and being a woman comes. with its own setbacks so for Marie to be a Black woman working in a white man's field is inspiring because I know it has to. be hard.
I also enjoyed the fact that she is working in a field close to the one that I am going into. To see a woman of color exceeding through any obstacles thrown at her warms my heart and motivates me to keep going.

Elizabeth kyande said...

The most rewarding part of the novel is the fact that it brings a connection between the book to the reality. Seeing some challenges on the book that Marie faced are still an issue in this era we are living in. Also the fact that a black woman is the main character really creates a sense of female empowerment. I have grown up in an African culture and I feel that woman empowerment should be brought out there more. In 2020 there are still some tribes that do not see woman as equals. In general I liked the book and glad we read it. The only challenging thing that I found would probably be some procrastination from time to time, but that is a problem on my side.

-Elizabeth Kyande 12/4/2020

Anonymous said...

Ehriana . C said...
What I found most rewarding was that I actually enjoyed the storyline of the book. I feel like I could relate to Marie being that I am a black woman and we go through similar struggles. On the other hand, I don't really think anything about the book was least rewarding for me.
December 3, 2020 at 9:26 PM

Jacqueline Smith said...

When I found out that we would have to read a novel I was very apprehensive. I had a full class schedule on top of being a mother of three. I was aggravated because I thought the novel would be too much of an inconvenience with my busy schedule. I was pleasently surprised at how enjoyable the book was; reading it was not burdensome like I anticipated. I love to read but rarely have the time for it. I was easily captivated by the story line as well as the characters. I like that this story was based on true events. I found myself Googling information about Thomas Sankara his cause, presidency, and assassination. It was all very interesting; I'm glad this novel was assigned.
The most challenging part of reading this novel was timing. As mentioned before, I don't have much time to just sit and read a novel. I end up downloading the audio book which allowed me to listen while cooking, cleaning, and doing any other mom duties. when I had a little free time, I would sit, listen, and read along with my hard copy.

-Jacqueline Smith

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading the novel American Spy this semester because this is the only book that I have read in my Haley reading group that has taken me on a journey from beginning to end. As a busy student, being transported into the story was the most rewarding about reading this book for me. I did not experience any challenges concerning my reading experience.

-Aleeya B.

Cheyenne Carpenter said...

This reading was very rewarding to see a Black Woman become a spy in a predominately white career and succeeding. It is definitely inspiration to young women of color thinking they can't do something because the color of their skin or because they are a woman.

Aalita Cole said...

I found the storyline to the most rewarding part about reading this book, while it was a fictional novel the way that it was narrated gave off a very realistic vibe. I found that the most challenging thing during my experience was to wait a week to read the next chapter.

Nia Marshall said...

Overall I really enjoyed reading this book. Not only did the story transport me into a fictional space of imagination, but also proved to have multiple exciting scenes. I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan fiction books, however this book proved me wrong. From the beginning I was still taken back by the main character Marie being a black woman. I feel like this was one of the factors that helped me enjoy this book even more, knowing that there was a main character who I could sympathize with and relate with. In general this book was a fun read and one I wouldn’t mind reading again.

-Nia Marshall

Teighlor Traywick said...

What I enjoyed most about reading this book is learning about different cultures. I know it is fiction, but some elements of the plot and story incorporated real events from history, which made reading the book more interesting.
What was a challenge reading this book was that it lacked excitement and a climax. I felt the Marie was telling a story (writing to her kids), but it never lead up to anything. As the reader, I did not feel attached to Marie enough to be engaged in her story.

Teighlor Traywick

Alexis H. said...

This book really made me think about how selfish I could be. Marie was so stuck on her life and everything bad that it lead her to be stuck in a terrible situation. For you to truly understand everything around you, you have to really pay attention to everything.

Something that was a challenge while reading was that Marie really didn’t have much information when she talked about people. Her descriptions were very vague and never concise. It makes sense why she did it this way, since she was writing to her children, but it made it hard to fully see her story through her eyes.

Alexis H.

Nijay Spellman said...

What I found most rewarding about the book was that the main character was a strong-minded, hardworking, and determined black woman. It made it very easy to relate to Marie and her struggles and in a way look up to her. She never let anything get in her way of succeeding and when put in a room of people who went against her she still managed to reign at the top. The only thing I found challenging about the reading assignment was staying on top of the readings.

Nijay S.

Alliyah M. said...

I enjoyed that we got to read a fictional book this semester compared to other semesters as I sometimes find fictional books more intriguing to read. I also really enjoyed this book as it was interesting to see what challenges Marie faced and how she overcame those challenges. The only thing that I found to be a challenge in reading this book is that it was more time consuming to read compared to previous semester's readings and it would sometimes get in the way of finishing other school work.

Kelsey McNeil said...

What I found so rewarding about reading this book was getting to read it with this whole group and seeing different reactions to parts of the book within the blog. Since it was an actual novel that made it different from the other years of posting and it was enhanced my experience with reading. I also just enjoyed the story itself and haven't read a book like this before. The only thing that I found challenging was giving the book my full attention. I often found myself having to reread chapters because I could not remember what happened, but overall I really enjoyed this book this semester.

Kelsey McNeil

Anonymous said...

The novel was very much enjoyed. I empathized a very strong and brave black woman. It is inspirational and takes you on a brilliant rollercoaster with the main ccharacter. The ability to relate to Marie and see representation was very rewarding.

Ilysa Walker

Cynthia Martin said...

I very much enjoyed reading this novel. It wasn't a hard novel to get through and I love the strong black female lead. The action and suspense made it easy to keep reading. Marie felt somewhat hard to understand in her decision making processes but that also could have been the point as she opens up more towards the end.

Raven G. said...

The book was great, I enjoyed that it was about a black woman spy who was always underestimated. The challenge I always ran into was finding time to read the book. Between work and my classes I was always too tired when it was my scheduled time to read. -Raven G.

Samontriona P. said...

What did you enjoy or find most rewarding about reading the book? And, what did you view as a challenge concerning the reading experience?
What I found most rewarding about reading this book was that it was about a strong and independent black woman that wanted to make sure she left a legacy for her children. She was also in a field that is predominantly males and she stood her ground. This is something that mothers are doing daily in real life and I am glad it is highlighted in this book. What I viewed as a challenge was that during this semester with everything virtual, it was more to read and I had a more extreme schedule. Other than time I did not have any other challenges.

Adejoke Adanri said...

I enjoyed reading a book about a black women who is a spy. That character trope is not one that is common, but I like that through the book Marie was ethical, smart, and good at what she did. I have never read a book, seen a movie, or consumed any media with this theme with a black woman being the main character so this was very refreshing.

-Adejoke Adanri

Kaelyn Cupil said...

This book had a lot of twists and turns I didn't at first expect. I related deeply with Marie, past just our skin color and that says a lot. I would definitely read this again, or even recommend it for another student to read. It was definitely worth the time to read.

Anonymous said...

What I found most rewarding about the book is the representation it had. It was enjoyable to read about a black girl such as myself in a intelligence based occupation. It is not often that a black girl is the protagonist of a story so this was a nice change of pace. What I found most challenging about the book was wrapping my head around all the different time periods the book jumps around in and trying to create a mental timeline.
Fatima Bashir

Unknown said...

I liked the it was an interesting book to read which made it way easier to read. I was excited to know what was going to happen next. The main challenge I had reading this book was trying to keep the story straight. Sometimes a lot would happen in one chapter, I would have to go back read because I missed something.

-Carah F.

Anonymous said...

What I found most rewarding about reading the book was that the protagonist was a strong African American woman that had high status with being in the FBI. I can personally related to Marie in some ways. I also found it rewarding that the book was interesting to me. I haven’t read that many spy books so that facts this ppl kept me interested I really enjoyed. A challenging concern during this reading experience was just finding the time to read the book on my own time. The fact that I found the book interesting made this easier. Overall this reading experience this semester was a good experience for me.

Danielle Hawthorne 12/4/20

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed seeing how Marie stood up for herself. As a women, it’s hard to have a say so in anything. She overcame many obstacles and reading about them is what made the book interesting. I didn’t expect this book to go this way, i thought it would be more of a “spy” book, one of the typical ones. This was a very enjoyable book and i would recommend it 100%

Damaiya Lasenby 12/4/20

Adejoke Adanri said...

I enjoyed reading a book about a black woman who is a spy. That character trope is not one that is common, but I like that through the book Marie was ethical, smart, and good at what she did. I have never read a book, seen a movie, or consumed any media with this theme with a black woman being the main character so this was very refreshing.

-Adejoke Adanri

Anonymous said...

During the course of the semester reading this book I was very excited to finish. I haven’t really sat and read in a long time and actually enjoyed it. What stood out most to me was that the main character was an ambitious black women and she stood on her word and made sure she accomplished what it was she wanted to be done during that time.
-Courteona Combs 12/3/20

Alayna M. said...

I love reading but one of the downsides to the genres that I like is that often times the main character(s) are white. It is rare that I can read about characters that look like me, especially as the main character. I also loved that while race did play an issue in this book, it wasn't Marie's main conflict. It seems whenever there is a black MC, their main issue in the book is that they're black. Marie dealt with a lot of different things, and that was refreshing to read even if the book was pretty crazy!

- Alayna M.

Anonymous said...

What I found rewarding about the novel was the fact that the main character was a black women. I liked how the story alluded to the struggles that black women face for the being both black and a woman in a workplace. What was challenging was finding time to read and how the story jumped for tile period to time period.

Jayla Pierce 12/7/20

Anonymous said...

What I found rewarding about the novel was the fact that the main character was a black women. I liked how the story alluded to the struggles that black women face for the being both black and a woman in a workplace. What was challenging was finding time to read and how the story jumped for tile period to time period.

Jayla Pierce 12/7/20

gabby said...

I found this book really rewarding to read. I say this because I personally really enjoy reading books that feature strong, black, independent women. Yet, I love how the story featured up and downs and various challenges. It illustrated all the struggles that black women go through when facing the professional world. It was a little challenging as it was a little difficult to follow at some points, but overall this book was a great read!

Gabrielle Wimes

Keaira C. said...

There were so many takeaways from reading this book, and it was like as I read each chapter there was something else that I felt I resonated with and that caused me to reflect on my own life decisions and relationships. That overall ability and affect that this book had on me was something that I really enjoyed and appreciated while reading, this assigned book this semester. I think with the pandemic, this past election, and so many different occurrences this year, this book has served the purpose of causing me to check-in, and to stay balanced and aware of my feelings and emotional changes. I’d say socially, and culturally this book was relatable and made me feel recognized, which I appreciated.

Anonymous said...

One thing that I enjoyed about American Spy was the fact that I got to see my race and gender represented in a positive light. It was nice to read about a talented black woman who was more than just a sidekick or a background character. The hardest part about reading this book was incorporating time for it in my busy schedule.

Chaianna Curry 12/4/20

Anonymous said...

The most enjoyable thing I have found about this story was the fact that I could relwte to some of Marie's story. Her aspirations her morals, things she has said were things I have heard all my life from other female figures within my family. It was really cool to read and relate. Something challenging with the story was trying to read it while being at home doing everything electronically.

-Brooke Harris 12/7/20

Daeja J Daniels said...

I find this book to be very interesting. I really appreciated that the lead of the book included a strong black female who was very determined. Throughout the book it kept me very entertained. I do not typically read books like this so it was nice to every once in while. The must challenging thing about this was the fact that it jumped around quite a lot.

geonel m said...

I normally enjoy books but lately, I got sick of reading school books. This novel was a good escape from reality, picture a powerful and ethical black woman. I really enjoyed every bit of it. The author did a great job keeping the suspense. I was always excite to read more.

It was an excellent pick

Raillane Kamdem said...

I enjoyed this book because, especially in these times we’re living in, it really resonated with me socially and culturally. Though race and gender played a part in how the main character lived her life, it didn’t define her, and she broke out against those stereotypes. This is something I hope I can do with my life in my future.

Anonymous said...

This semester, I found myself reading a lot of book and I honestly got sick of reading class materials. I found reading this book very relaxing and it was rewarding to depict a powerful black woman as resilient and ethical. This book was a very good pick, by far the best I have been reading for the last two years and half.

Geonel M.

Anonymous said...

Reading American Spy was rewarding because it was a vast change from reading a lot of textbooks. I can’t remember the last time I read a fiction book or even a book by choice. It was refreshing to remember how much I actually enjoyed reading books on my own.
I wish there was a lot more action in the book and I don’t like how Lauren Wilkinson left off. I felt as though the book started off with good action but it definitely withered away until we got to the end. I feel like Wilkinson could’ve ended the book giving us more information about the antagonists unless she’s intending on writing a sequel.

Nyla Woods 12/10/20

Anonymous said...

I really liked that a black woman was the main character. I have to admit that the book started out interested but I lost interest halfway through. However, that could just be because I am not a fan of fiction all that much.

Breann W.

Kailey Blanton said...

I found that this book gave such real life scenarios that it gave this pseudo reality of a world. The world doesn't seem too far off from accuracy but at the same time it could be someone's real life. This didn't seem like I was reading for homework but rather reading for the content of the book. Wilkinson was able to bring such extreme but reliable scenarios and breathe them to life with her words. -Kailey Blanton

Deja L. said...

What I found most rewarding about this novel was how the struggle of being a black woman was addressed but not shoved down our throats. In the first chapter, I wasn't even aware that the main character was black. We were subtly shown her struggles with being able to be taken seriously and how her sister had to try to stray from stereotypes. They made the main character black without making that her entire personality.
-Deja Lane