Book Review

Book Review: Dreamcatcher Boy by Donovan James

Before I start the book review, I want to give a little background on my friendship with Donovan:
I was a Senior at Sac State and the Public Relations Chair of the Student Fashion Association on campus when I met Donovan. At the time, he was a transfer student who I learned was originally from San Diego and a new member of SFA. Initially he was shy but I knew he loved to dance and he loved Taylor Swift. He was very active in our organization. Through his participation in org meetings, events, and workshops I was able to really see Donovan’s personality. Donovan was not only a member of SFA, he was an active member of a fraternity on campus and worked in the Sac State PRIDE Center. I remember thinking “wow he’s committed”. Donovan is always smiling and always dressed so cute. After I graduated we’ve kept in touch through Facebook and Instagram. Recently, he informed me he wrote a book and would love if I could review it on my blog. As you all know I am pretty new to blogging, so I am honored that his book is my first official book review.

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The Dreamcatcher boy is a compilation of short stories, poems, and letters that has shaped Donovan into the person he is today. Donovan identifies as a cis gender, gay, femme, Blaxican man.  In this book he writes about his challenges trying to navigate within those various layers of himself.

 “I’ve shared so many moments, so many memories with people that are exactly that… a memory.” (pg 13)

Donovan speaks about moving schools, leaving his home town, moving away for college, and moving to the east coast where he now resides. Moving around, changing scenes, changing friends and lovers are things I can thoroughly relate to. The more I read the more I realized how much of myself I saw in these pages.

As I went on, I was captivated by the letter to his family. He addressed the pain that has been caused due to the death of his grandparents. He wrote about the hurt and anger he have experience from the lack of acceptance in his family. He express the love and security he felt from his grandma and his mom. He writes about being a Feminist because of the women who help mold him. His bravery in expressing his feelings directly was powerful for me. Instead of harboring hatred for his cousins, aunts, and uncles for their ridicule, he tries to understand their mindsets and move pass their ignorance. Most families ignore and avoid these kind of issues but Donovan chose to reveal his pain and take his power back. He explained that this is his way of dealing with it in a healthy way and finally letting it go.

He also wrote letters of encouragement and manifestation to himself. It was needed and refreshing for me to read those letters out loud. Just like him I often need to be remind myself of my strength and how far I’ve come.

The overall message I received from this book is that love is love. The feeling of obtaining love, being encompassed by love and being hurt by love is universal, no matter ones sexuality, race, gender, or background. 636013662722544847-697838270_love-is-love--source

Donovan works tiredly to evoke change in his various communities. He opens up about issues like violence against the trans community, LGBTQ rights, the injustices of the black trans community, physical and emotional abuse within LGBTQ relationships, high mental health/ homelessness/unemployment rates in LGBTQ youth, racism/ageism/body shaming within the LGBTQ community, and more. Some of these issues I was loosely aware of but reading the thoughts and feelings of someone affected by it daily was eye opening. The fear and trauma Donovan, his mom, and his friends faced after hearing about the mass shooting at Pulse night club in Orlando was heartbreaking. Through reading this book, I learned about Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20th, a day set aside to honor the transgender women and men who have lost their lives only for their tragedies to be silenced in the mainstream media.

Having adoptive white grandparents being raised by a Mexican mother and having an absent black father, Donovan admits that he didn’t start understanding his blackness until college. Since being introduced to his black culture by an aunt, it has become a big part of his life and his identity. He writes about experiencing discrimination within the LGBTQ community. He’s become an advocate, to shed light and be a voice for those dying to be heard.

LGBTQ, feminism, and racial issues may not affect everyone personally but this book taught me that ally-ship shows love and solidarity to those who are fighting for equality.

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This book shows how multifaceted Donovan is and how he is learning to embrace his layers instead of feeling the need to pick one. So often societal pressures make us feel the need to fit into one cookie cutter identity set for us. After reading Donovan’s story, it was surprising how much we are all the same. We are all trying to figure it out one day at a time. We are all working to heal and learn from our past.

I felt empowered by all Donovan has overcame and I am so proud of his growth. Reading about the great loves, friendships, life changes and heartbreaks Donovan has experienced made me reflect on my own journey. I believe a good thought provoking book brings forth a roller coaster of emotions which is exactly how I felt while reading Donovan’s story. Every since I’ve known Donovan he has stood for LGBTQ rights and walked in his truth but to read about his activism I am inspired to do more!

“No matter the distance no matter how far, You are the person who decides who you are. Don’t let them deceive you, you won’t be a toy because sorry to say, you’re the dreamcatcher boy.” – Erik Esqueda

Click the link to purchase The Dreamcatcher boy

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Check out Donovan’s blog Over the Rainbow

 

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