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A Return to Arms Paperback – March 15, 2016
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About the Author
Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund grantee, completed a VONA residency at University of Miami and self-published a short story collection, Once and Future Lovers.
While her obsessions constantly rotate and evolve, Sheree has an undying love for hot sauces, red wines, and crunchy tacos. She plays less-than-mediocre electric guitar but makes nearly-perfect guacamole.
Top customer reviews
Toya is the main character of A Return to Arms, but the book is not really about her. Toya channels the Black Lives Matter movement, and through Toya we see many different people coming together and pulling apart, creating and destroying, loving and hating, hurting and healing. It won't be what you think it will be. No matter who you are. No matter where you stand, there will be pieces in A Return to Arms that will move you out of your comfort zone. It presents complexity where we might prefer simplicity, but the truth in the complexity is undeniable so we allow it to take hold.
I want more writing like this in the world. <3
More than that, it’s an important book because it explicitly examines how the personal is political. The discussion of intersectionality, how oppression can happen along the divides of our gender and the gender of who we love is a crucial part of A Return to Arms. While fighting against racism, Toya is constantly also fighting misogyny and/or homophobia from people she should be able to trust. Her reactions and reflections on this, especially as they compare to Folami and how she handles it, makes for a moving exploration of what can and can’t, or should and shouldn’t, be sacrificed in pursuit of equality.
I received a free copy from the author for an honest review at The Lesbian Review.
A Return to Arms is the story of Toya a black lesbian activist trying to navigate her way through both life and the passages of the Black Lives Matter movement. Her life is a daily struggle of a young person trying to convince the rest of America that Black Lives Matter while attempting to convince the Organization, Rise Up of which she is an active member, that ALL Black Lives Matter. That women, queer people, children, men, single, straight, asexual, all of the intersections of Black Lives must Matter.
As Toya navigates her way through the rising tension and societal that arises after the killing of an unarmed teen by a police officer and the subsequent unrest she deals with the uncertainty of her relationship with another activist who believes that the cause must come before anything else, even her love life.
I hate spoilers so I hope you can get the gyst of the story from what I've written above but in two sentences: A Return To Arms is a love story, Love of self, love of community. And a story about the measures so many under represented activists go through to demand equality both in their communities and in the world.
I'm a Sheree L Greer stan. I LOVE everything she writes. I'm sharing that with full disclosure mostly because during a conversation with Sheree about why I don't really like to review books by people I love, I worry that that love will interfere with me giving an honest unbiased review and she advised me to do the review as authentically as I could, "You call yourself Authentically Adrien be authentic." Or something like that. Anyways, This book is phenomenal. It is her best work. It is the work that I sit back and wait patiently to be dissected by major blogs. It is the book that should land her on the New York Times Bestsellers List. (If it doesn't you hating)
From the opening paragraph through the last sentence THE LAST SENTENCE I was hooked. I followed Toya's story like my life depended on it possibly because I am Toya, Black, Queer, Woman, Activist. But also because Toya is so well written. I read somewhere once that an author's job is to make you feel something and OH did we Feel something. We felt ALL the things. Including the music. I couldn't quite pinpoint the words to the soundtrack of this book but I could feel the rhythm in the center of my back. I could sense the tempo under my palms as I inhaled this novel from tense movement to sexual moment to heartbreaking earth shattering moment.
I lived through these characters. I understood every single one of them and I even empathized for the characters that I hated. Sheree's writing makes sure that you understand and relate to both antagonists and protagonists alike. It took me to the different settings and left me with vivid guttural images of the protest scenes. If you have never been to a rally you can officially make that claim after you read this book and I hope that it will help you to understand the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement if you don't already.
Be prepared to have some interesting dialogue after you read this book.
As a black woman, sometimes I have to analyze current events in segments because of how I self identify. I dissect the challenges of my community first as a black representing person. Then I create dialogue as it affects me as a woman. Next I assess if my sexual orientation will allow for me to be seen as an ally or display my privilege over my queer counterparts. Lastly I factor in my role as a parent and Christian to shape my opinions and control my emotions.
Toya had this same thought process through the novel. Her story was my story in many ways. As an activist, our identifiers sometimes contradict one another and we fight for a part of us that goes against another characteristic of our being.
Sheree L. Greer demonstrates that fighting against racism, misogyny, homophobia, and injustice is achievable. A Return to Arms definitely resonated with me. This movement will go down in history and I'm glad Sheree L. Greer documented the struggle in a way that you felt like you were protesting with RiseUp.