Elevate Difference

Reviews by Viannah Duncan

Viannah Duncan

Viannah "V.E." Duncan is an emerging writer hailing from the Los Angeles area. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has published her poetry and prose in several small literary journals. V.E. writes movie, book, and anime reviews and personal thoughts at Duncan Heights (http://www.duncanheights.com/blog). She's been involved in LGBT rights and women's rights activism since high school. Her passions include anime and Japanese culture, psychology, and etymology, and she is currently working on her first memoir. She has a cantankerous cat named Cleopatra.

Unruly Girls, Unrepentant Mothers: Redefining Feminism on Screen

Unruly Girls, Unrepentant Mothers: Redefining Feminism on Screen by Kathleen Rowe Karlyn is a fascinating look into the movies and television I watched as a kid. As a woman in my mid-twenties, I can safely say that my age group, for the most part, was the target audience when the films and television shows mentioned in the book were being produced. Or, at least, one of the target audiences.

The Pious Sex: Essays on Women and Religion in the History of Political Thought

I could comment extensively on each of the essays in The Pious Sex, but seeing as there are eleven in total (not counting the introduction) and I have limited space here, that will not be possible. At the beginning of the introduction, the editor, Andrea Radasanu, immediately apologizes for calling to mind “the worst of the prejudices associated with women over the ages: the characterization of women as superstitious and inherently irrational creatures that

Disciplining Women: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Black Counterpublics, and the Cultural Politics of Black Sororities

I learned a lot about Black Greek-letter organizations while reading Disciplining Women: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Black Counterpublics, and the Cultural Politics of Black Sororities, specifically about the title sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA).


Set in 1930s and ‘40s in France and Poland, Amandine is Marlena de Blasi’s first work of fiction. The title character is a girl without a history. Or, at least, a history she knows. When she was just five months old, a mysterious woman deposited her in a French convent with Solange, a lay sister. Mater Paul, the head nun there, was given directions never to tell anyone claiming to be from the child’s past anything about the child, or to tell the child anything about her past or heritage, even what little that she knew. When the mysterious woman left her at the convent, the child didn’t even have a name.

Made in India

Made in India is a documentary about the growing trend of infertile American couples who outsource a surrogate pregnancy to a woman in India. The film follows one such couple, Lisa and Brian, from San Antonio, Texas, who have experienced seven years of infertility. They don’t have a lot of money (“by American standards, anyway,” they say) and are taking their last chance to start a family of their own on by using a “medical tourism” agency based in Los Angeles called Planet Hospital.

Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Alison Weir is first a historian, and it shows in Captive Queen. She studied Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 1970s and 1990s and realized one day that “the nature of medieval biography, particularly of women, is the piecing together of fragments of information and making sense of them.

A Complete Guide to the Buddhist Path

I guess I was expecting more of a “Buddhism for idiots” type of book when I picked up A Complete Guide to the Buddhist Path by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen (a title which means, roughly, “great abbot”). For better or worse, that’s not what this book is. Before I read the book, I knew nothing of Buddhism except that some people call it a philosophy rather than a religion and Buddhist nuns have to shave their heads upon joining their order.

Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse

Phoebe Tsang’s Contents of a Mermaid's Purse is somewhat like a real purse a modern woman might have: familiar and, at the same time, exotic—and so is what it holds. Dumping the purse’s contents onto the table to sift through proves to be an exercise in strange beauty—an alluring siren’s call fulfilled.

The Mathematics of Sex: How Biology and Society Conspire to Limit Talented Women and Girls

I’ll be honest. I was scared of reading The Mathematics of Sex. I am not the kind of women they’re writing about, and I know very few women who are. I’m not a mathematician, physicist, chemist, computer scientist, operations researcher, or engineer. Without the subtitle, “How Biology and Society Conspire to Limit Talented Women and Girls,” the title is somewhat misleading; it’s not so much about sex between the sheets as biological sex.


Mijeong is a collection of short stories by Byung-Jun Byun in manhwa form.

Woman Into Wolf: A TrueCrimeTale

I haven’t read a true crime story in a long time, and I was really looking forward to it. I was mildly disappointed, then, to learn that Woman Into Wolf “combines the events of several real cases, but other than Digger, who was a real dog, and the Bird Lady, who was a real person, characters must be considered inventions of the author.” It’s not true crime, I don’t think, if it’s been made up, even if the events purportedly did happen.

The Secret Lives of Boys: Inside the Raw Emotional World of Male Teens

The Secret Lives of Boys is exactly the kind of book I love to read. It is a collection of well-written case studies that give the reader a snapshot of teenage boys that most adults today don’t see.

Shattered Innocence: The Error of Revenge

I was less than impressed with Kimberly Whitner-Hill’s Shattered Innocence: The Error of Revenge. I found this book to be not very well thought out and poorly executed. The first chapter begins with a scene in the life of the main character, Kayla. That scene is never revisited, however, and within two pages the clock is turned back to her father’s childhood.

I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me By a Young Lady From Rwanda (4/13/2008)

I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me By a Young Lady From Rwanda is an amazing two-person play set in London, England in the modern day. It chronicles one Rwandan refugee’s struggle to write about what happened to her in 1994, and the Englishman who helps her. While living in England, Juliette (Susan Hayward) meets an aging poet, Simon (Joseph J. Menino), who works at the refugee center part-time. She comes to him for help in getting her book about the Rwandan genocide published.