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Evoke – Review

No Spoilers. YA/NA Romance – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The summary talks of a tale of five friends, bonded in a tight friendship, one day Laney wakes up a sole survivor of a car accident that killed three of her friends. But this story is so much more than that.

Cover

In this story, we are following Laney’s mind as she loses a whole week from her life. We walk with her as she remembers pieces and the pain of losing those closes to her.

The grief you feel in the beginning is a lasting one, it’s as if your own heart has been ripped out. Danielle Simmons takes you on a journey to find a love you never knew was there, a beauty you never saw in the mirror and confidence you never knew you had. This story makes you question the friendships you’ve had over your lifetime and a relationship you’ve had with yourself.

Laney is the smart one, but the bond that sticks them all together, but she is also clueless of who she is to everyone around her. Always in her friend Lisa’s footsteps, she never stopped to think about what she wanted, what she needed and when she did, life changed for her. Her life was something to envy, but she never knew that.

This book was a romance I never knew I needed. It makes me look at love in a new way. Love is patient, love is dependable and love is forever. If you like romance, hell, even if you don’t, you should read this book, because it’s not your typical cookie-cutter love story, it’s so much more than that.

Purchase Evoke here:
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Danielle Simmons

About the Author
Danielle grew up in a small town in California’s Sierra Nevada Foothills. A voracious reader from an early age, she began writing poetry and short stories in elementary school, and continued that passion throughout high school and college. She studied literature, creative writing and communications at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, sons and two cats, where she is a PR executive by day, and

writer by night.

Author Links: WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter

Blog Tour Organized By:YA Bound Book Tours

Not Cinderella’s Type

A realistic Cinderella Story

I have seen many reenactments of Cinderella and it’s always the same. A foster child was taken in being physically and mentally abused while the family uses all the money left for the child. In this movie, it was no different. Her mother died in a horrible crash, her aunt and uncle take her in, put her in an attic instead of a room in their 8 bedroom house.

Screenshot 2018-10-16 17.18.54She walked to school, while their daughters had a car and absolutely everything they wanted. Here’s where things change. The super popular guy that the sisters were obsessed with was a son of a therapist. He accidentally ran over her cat but did everything to make it up to her.

That’s when he noticed the abuse. Her best friend, a guy, decided he didn’t like that someone else was trying to talk to her and claimed his undying love for her.

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Bryant, the popular guy, didn’t give up. He encouraged her to check into feelings for her best friend. Told her to date him, even though he really liked her. He gave her a choice, never tricked her or played games. He always went with his gut about taking care of her.

One day, after Indy went to her best friend Max’s soccer game to support him, she got home and it was the worst it had ever been. She snapped and when sent to her room was scared of what was going to happen to her. She called Max, he said ‘Oh just let your Aunt calm down.’ She told him she was scared and he said he would talk to her tomorrow (Some best friend and way to show your emotions.)

Bryant, on the other hand, was scared for her. He pulled up and came in the house. He saw her bags packed and got her out of there. Her father was a mandated reporter. This is where I fell in love with Bryant’s character, he did what others around he should have done in the past. She was being abused. Locked in her closet and forced to do slave work,  and was never treated as an equal.

I love how this story was realistic. It didn’t make me cringe at the tv like so many Cinderella movies in the past, in the beginning perhaps, but it set the scene. Bryant was supportive, understanding and helped build her self-esteem. I have seen reviews saying it was lame, but those are the ones who like the original “I need a man to save me” “let the family abuse her until she’s 18” type Cinderella story, to me, this one is the best one for the message alone.

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Can you guess who she decided to date? You should check it out, now I have to read the book written by Jenni James to see just how amazing this story really was. The cast was amazing. It’s definitely a realistic movie I watched with my daughters and loved how they reacted to it.

Here’s the trailer:

Sierra Burgess Is A Loser – Netflix

Not everyone is a fan – and I can see why…

I watched this movie when it was first added to Netflix and although I enjoyed it, I had so serious concerns while watching the movie. As an adult I can see the obvious problems, but what about the teenagers who feel the same way as Sierra, or who have no adults who can reassure them this was only a movie?

Screenshot 2018-09-09 23.42.28Sierra Burgess was a heavy set “outsider” in a typical high school setting. She was a band member and people generally didn’t notice or see her, minus Veronica, the head of the cheerleading squad, who is a rival of hers. So at the beginning of the movie, Sierra is seen posting adds with her phone number for tutoring. Veronica sees it and removes her phone number from the form.

Screenshot 2018-09-09 23.43.04Veronica is the typical mean girl from teen movies because she doesn’t believe in dating “losers” and thinks that a person’s friends define them. So when Jamey approaches her for her number she gives Sierra’s number because his friends aren’t her type and since he hangs with them, neither is he.

 

Screenshot 2018-09-09 23.44.41Now, Jamey starts texting Sierra who has never had a boy interested in her, nor was ever distracted from her work before. She begins to fall for him but decides not to tell him that she is not who he thinks she is. Basically, she is a catfish. She comes up with a plan to get him to think she is still Veronica when she finds out that Veronica’s college boyfriend thinks she’s stupid and dumps her.

This movie gives teenagers complete wrong information on so many levels.

  • Number one Sierra was absolutely gorgeous and never accepted who she was
  • It tells the old story of being fat is unattractive and being a band member is an outsider
  • It says that having straight A’s is not enough you have to have a big following on social media to be important
  • The writer put gay jokes in which is not ok.

Its as if the writer was trying to bring back all the old high school/teenager stereotypes back into play. And the ending was super predictable and a complete lie. If you catfish someone or start a relationship based on a lie, it will not end in happy ever after.

I wasn’t super upset until I watched this video

She’s totally right!

Screenshot 2018-09-09 23.42.44How can we allow this kind of narrative happen in this day and age? I thought part of the movie was funny because it reminded me of the old 80’s movies and Dan kept asking questions like “Is being a cheerleader still a thing?”… Dan is Sierra’s best friend who tells her all the things I wanted to tell her. Like tell Jamey the truth and nothing good can come from lying.

There are deeper stories told in this movie, as Veronica mother was pressuring her to be skinny and a mean girl because of her insecurities. Sierra’s father is a famous writer and her mother a self-esteem self-help writer, who never see their issues with their daughter in the home. Even when she brought it up, her parents never reassured her, never made her see the beauty in herself. (A huge plot hole – I have questions.)

I let my twelve-year-old watch…

…and I was so happy to see that she had the same thoughts that I had. I think that we need to not try to bring back the insecurities of the 80s and 90s in movies but make more relevant movies to the messages that we have been putting out for so long.

Shame on the writer, who is a woman, Lindsey Beer, for writing a script that brings back fat shaming and stereotypes for all.

There was, however, a great cast:

  • Sierra – Shannon Purser
  • Veronica – Kristine Froseth
  • Dan – RJ Cyler
  • Jamey – Noah Centineo
  • Ms. Thompson – Loretta Devine
  • Stephen Burgess – Alan Ruck
  • Trish – Chrissy Metz

Here is the trailer.. watch it, and tell me what you think.

 

 

Same Kind of Different As Me

Not a Netflix Original, But I Found It There.

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I love movies with a deeper message than you think you will get in the beginning. I was a big old baby crying in the end. (Don’t worry, as usual, I will not spoil the good things for you).

This movie is a flashback movie it starts with Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear) leaving his home so he can write a book. Something that he has never done before. He goes to a remote place and stays at a friend home to begin writing this novel uninterrupted. The flashback starts off by telling his story as an art dealer, a husband, and a father. While at an art viewing, a woman comes up to him and tells him that she knows about his affair, and if he doesn’t tell his wife, she would.

Screenshot 2018-08-25 09.58.48To me, his wife, Debbie (Renée Zellweger), was the perfect mixture of love and grace. She was furious with him but eventually asked for her number. Told her she was not mad at her and that she forgave her. She said she hoped that one day she could find the kind of love that she and her husband had and hopefully if they got there again she would not be hearing from her husband again.  – That was amazing. I could’ve never had the courage to say that.

She told him that if he wanted to go he could and then asked him what he wanted. He told her he wanted her, and here is where the story begins. To be hurt and angry and say you know if you are not happy, you can go. Is a level of patience and understanding that many of us only dream of getting to. Now she made him make it up to her, and he tried to complain, but she never listened, and everything she made him do made him a better person.

Screenshot 2018-08-25 10.01.48One night his wife has a dream that she’s in a hospital bed, but she was sitting in the chair watching herself. She gets up and walks down a hallway that leads to a set of double doors.  The doors open up to a field. She walks out the doors and a tall black man is standing there waiting for her, not in a romantic way, but in a saving grace kind of way. She tells her husband and they begin searching for him. Only when they find him, his nickname is Suicide (Djimon Hounsou) and he is a tough cookie to break through to.

This story is beautiful, it shows when people step out there comfort zone and meet people outside their circle, that there is magic there. Not fairytale magic, but pure joy and a different understanding of life. Debbie opened Ron’s eyes to people he would walk past and not think twice about. Debbie, a visionary and changed the lives of everyone she touched.

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This movie was based off a true story and I cried big baby tears of joy and sorrow at the end (I can be mushy at times.) The original book was written by John Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent. I haven’t read this, but this book and the next book that is a continuation of the story are definitely on my TBR (to be read) list.

 

The director Michael Carney did an amazing job of capturing a story that needed to be told. The characters were amazingly cast, and that credit goes to Tracy Kilpatrick and John Papsidera.

If you haven’t watched and need something beautifully motivating, go watch and enjoy. 

This Is Us

This is real. This is love. This is life.

Screenshot 2018-08-06 22.31.57This is Us, is an emotional story of a couple who had triplet, where one died and was replaced with a baby who was abandoned at the hospital. So they came with three in her belly and left with three in her hands.

I have to say that after the first episode I was reluctant to watch because I just knew I would be crying. Tears do not explain how I have felt getting through this first few seasons.

Screenshot 2018-08-06 22.31.35Now with 8 Emmy Nominations the world is watching and the whole world is in love with Jack and Rebecca Pearson and their love for three beautiful babies. Seeing these babies grown with thier own problems and families shows us that what we does as parents matter. The mistakes, the things we thing we’re hiding, kids know it all.

I’m not giving any spoilers, but I am saying that if you love a drama that reminds you of a Nicholas Sparks movie, then I don’t know why you’re not watching this show. I am not all the way caught up, but this was something I knew I needed to review. This is more than love, this is real, this is life.

Screenshot 2018-08-06 22.31.13The cast is amazing with Mandy Moore playing Rebecca and Milo Ventimiglia playing Jack Pearson. Their adult children are played by Sterling K Brown as Randall, Chrissy Metz as Kate, and Justin Hartley as Kevin.

This show has the right people playing the right parts Ryan Tymensky is a great casting associate and Ken Olin is an awesome Director. But I have to give props to the writers on this one. Dan Fogelman (the creator), Kay Oyegun, Jas Waters, Aurin Spears, Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger, Vera Herbert, K.J. Steinberg, Bekah Brunstetter, Joe Lawson, Donald Todd, Laura Kenar, Don Roos, Shukree Tilghman, Tyler Bensinger and Rebecca Brunstetter are amazing writers who have created amazing story that has taken all of us by our hearts.

People always give a lot of credit to the actors or the directors but none to the writers who spend many hours creating and discussing whats going to happen next before the the actors even know. The writers capture the voice and stories that each character carries over to the cast and the director.

I am at awe at the whole story behind this and cannot wait to see where it takes us. I am definitely along for the ride.

Self Love – TL Clark

I received an ARC  and couldn’t put it down!

SO I have to admit when I looked at the cover I thought it was a self help book, I was wrong, but I wasn’t. This novel was a game changer. No Spoilers because I want you all to purchase and read this book. 

Self Love follows a heavy set Molly who has an addiction to comfort food. She loaves in self-doubt and talks down on herself because her mother and others have done it for so long. She sees no good in herself, has no belief in anything but, she is a goal setter.

She doesn’t realize it but leaving her job and starting her own business was the first step. She realized she deserved more than a job that she doesn’t love. This book itself, is written in first person and she engages with the reader while telling her story, an angle I haven’t really seen used in a novel before and I quite enjoyed it.

This book at the end left me in real life tears, she goes on a journey far deeper than a diet. Far deeper than she thought she could. Molly does a lifestyle change, a wholesome retreat of mind, body and soul, all while running a new business, trying multiple times to date and licking her wounds from parental let downs.

Molly is me, Molly is all of us and her journey is better than any self-help book. I feel refreshed and renewed from a deep cry and I want more of Mollys life goals and answers. I am sooo glad I was given this book to review and now know I need to read more of TL Clarks books.

I can’t post the cover of the book, because it literally has not been released, maybe before this post publishes it will and I would have added it. But here are her previous book covers.

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Check out her website http://tlclarkauthor.blogspot.co.uk/ and @tlclarkauthor across social media. I am a new fan, and will check out her many other titles. Look for future reviews.

~Loving yourself has to come before you can truly love yourself.

The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas

This is More Than A Story – This is Our Life

Screenshot 2018-07-21 01.54.02As I hear the stories and then find out this movie is about to be made into a book, I pull it out my TBR, out of order, and begin to flip the pages. Yes I had the hardback book, and it made it that more important to me as I flipped the pages in reality. I am shaking as I am writing this, because this book is so realistic, so powerful.

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Starr is your normal kid, I mean she is living in the hood but has the privilege to go to a private school on the other side of town. Her uncle, a police officer, lives over there. But in the beginning, she was just a girl, in a party in her neighborhood. They were celebrating Spring Break and it was the annual party that the local DJ did every year.

Starr never went to these but her best friend/her brothers other sister invited her. She sees her old best friend Khalil come in and they back and forth like it hasn’t been awhile since they hung out. A fight breaks out, and Khalil grabs her out and takes her to his car to take her home.

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Photo by Andras Vas on Unsplash

The blue lights pull up behind them, and while she remembers her parents instructions, she wonders if anyone has had the talk with Khalil. You know the talk, speak only when spoken to, keep your hands in sight and don’t make sudden movements. The talk that every Black parent has with their kid about being stopped by the police. He didn’t, he moved and came back to the car to see if Starr was ok, and the cop shot. He shot more than once until Khalil’s bullet ridden body was on the ground leaking his blood into the pavement.

This is Starrs story of being a witness to something horrible and not wanting to be public, to showing not only did she have enemies of the police, but the streets were not all on the side of justice. This shows how hard it is to know whats going on but still have to deal with death everyday.

To deal with the racism that comes with a black boy being a victim of a cop, because of course he has to be a gang banger or a drug dealer. How the victim was put on trail to determine if the police officer would even be charged.

Screenshot 2018-07-21 02.33.54.pngThis may be a work of fiction, but its not. Its the reality of being black in America. Being in poverty and feeling like you have no choice in your life decisions. In having white friends who go by everything that the media says, because their comfort is more important than our lives.

This book is a reality, and I cannot wait to see how beautiful the movie is going to be. EVERYONE needs to see this movie, and read this book, because the pain felt behind Angies words, are the pain we felt after each hashtag died.

 

Cute With Bad Qualities

Cute With Bad Qualities – An Understatement

Screenshot 2018-07-21 14.27.35I don’t know how many times I tell people with children to stop coddling them. Introduce them to the real world and tell them how shit really is. If you put your children in a bubble, when they go to college, they wild out. This movie here is a straight up proof of how it normally goes, because its not always black and white, its grey areas in between.

Her mother waited until she was an adult, and heading to college before taking to her. Something that should NOT be a last minute conversation. This is something we should talk to our daughters now in elementary school, to build them up as women and let them know that everything that glitters ain’t gold.

Screenshot 2018-07-21 14.28.09Cute with Bad Qualities – I thought in the beginning was a horrible title, but I get it, Donovan was the “cute” one, and his qualities were horrible. Her being a “caged child”, she was easily open to the first guy that gave her attention. Her friends had a bet on how long she would be cool until she wilded out. It clearly didn’t take long.

This girl made a 32 on her SATs (not an accurate score, thats more an ACT score, but I’ll leave that flaw in the script alone… No I didn’t). Although she stayed in her books, but she became all about this man. She didn’t follow up on his story he told about Sheena, which lead to Sheen being shady to her, not her fault and continue to sleep with him behind her back.

The tagline “If he shows you who is he, believe him.” Was perfect, because as a woman, this was something that was always told to me. As a mother of teenage girls, I let them have boyfriends, explain to them the horrors of sex and people who don’t mean you any good. I also tell them the importance of looking at every angle and being true to themselves. Never letting someone dictate their lives or tell them what they can and cannot do.

Screenshot 2018-07-21 14.27.08This man disrespected her mother when he first met her, telling her excuse me, but me and Mya are grown, when she told him to take her straight home. And instead of taking her back to her dorms, like her mother asked, he took her back to his place where there was a bra in his bed, which he hid. They didn’t have sex that night, he played the role of the gentlemen, sleeping on the floor.

Screenshot 2018-07-21 14.28.58In the beginning, Mya, played by Samantha Smith, was a quiet girl who was a freshman in college. She was a private school girl who was raised in a strict religious home. She saw this boy and literally ran into Sheena, who invited her to a party that Donovan, Tasmin Williams, was supposed to be in attendance.

She showed him in the beginning that he could run her, because he told her to call Sheena back when she called to check on her. He told her not to be friends with certain people and she was all about listening to him. It was like she had no mind of her own and let him check her. Which, he took every moment to brag about to his friends.

When her best friend came in town, he was all about getting to know her friend on a deeper level calling her friend fine and flirting across the table. He kept looking her friend up and down. Her friend saw him for who he was, someone sneaky.

When he was injured, she told him to get seen and he blamed her for not getting medically cleared. Then when he found out he had DBT and couldn’t play he went off on her blaming her for him not being able to play. He broke up with her.

Unlike other stories, Mya and Donovan got married but not because he loved her, from the beginning he was telling his friends that she was a gold mine. He made this big marriage proposal after leaving her for a month. A virgin and a woman who will make money, but he quickly tried to make her his woman who did what he said.  This is not a love story, not a story of romance, its a story of being entrapped, feeling like you have to hold on because he’s your husband.

Screenshot 2018-07-21 14.28.26When her husband told her she was getting fat, she went to the doctors office and found out she was pregnant. He told her she should go and get an abortion. Something he knew she would not do, because she is very religious. In the next several scenes, you can see him celebrating graduation and hanging with friends while she goes to doctors visits and has the baby. He refused to even help out with the baby at night.

He starts spending time with Sheena on the side, and hanging out without his wife at certain events. Sheena recorded their conversation on the voicemail to their house. To him it was never about making her happy or even comfortable in their marriage, when she brought up him cheating, he just went to bed. Didn’t even try to explain, because he knew she wouldn’t go anywhere or do anything. She being still in school and having a baby. What could she do?

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Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

It took for her to realize that she married who she picked and not who she was supposed to marry. It took for her to stand up for herself and realize that she was fighting for a marriage on her own. We have to understand what love looks like, we are responsible for our children knowing that so that they don’t repeat the mistakes we have made in our lives.

 

The Immortality Of Henrietta Lacks

A Story That Needed To Be Told

Screenshot 2018-06-29 23.10.05First off, let me say this. I need to give credit to Oprah Winfrey. She is a multi millionaire, but she is never afraid to play the role of someone real. She has no problem getting down and dirty and in this movie, where she plays Deborah Lacks, a woman who suffers from extreme anxiety and PTSD from the many ways that life has taken all it could from her. She was trying to find the truth about her mother whose cells were used to create HELA, where they took cells from a black (colored) woman and used them to reproduce and replicate. Her cells were used to cure all types of diseases but these cells were taken illegally.

Yet John Hopkins was able to take them because they removed the identity of the patient. Kind of jacked up, here they were selling the medicine they created from Deborah and her siblings mothers DNA and yet they never saw a dime. The story follows the reporter and her way of trying to get a clear understanding of the woman behind HELA, because in those days they were afraid to let people know that science and medicine was created with the cells of a black woman.

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This story is just as important as every other story so that the ignorance and stigma behind black people will stop. I wonder how many racist people would love to find out the reason that stem cell research was done was due to Henrietta Lacks, how many cells of a black woman was used to cure their diseases. The only reason they removed her identity was because she was black and the fact that they stole her cells with no permission from her family, which was so much easier to do to a black person in those days. Look at Tuskegee, and the numerous trials they did on black women.

This wasn’t the only form of abuse in this story, you hear of Deborah’s older sister Elsie who was put into a mental hospital and died at fifteen. Deborah never knew the story until going to the old hospital. There she was given her records and a picture where the staff was holding up her by her neck. Her sister was given burr holes in her head because they believed it would drain the cerebral fluid and calm her down.

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Henrietta Lacks died of Breast Cancer but her spirit and her body lives on in all medicine and medical discovery even to this day. And unfortunately her daughter died 8 months before the novel came out. She was not able to see the conversation and how important her mothers story became to this one woman, to us all.

Medicine and medical trails wasn’t always humane, and today in some places, it still isn’t. They only removed slaves and black people and traded them for animals, who get more of a movement than we ever did. (But let me sip my tea.) The truth about so many things is out there, with technology, go and learn something new.

 

Brain On Fire – Netflix Original

How often are people misdiagnosed when a doctor simply doesn’t have the answers?

Screenshot 2018-06-29 22.48.22This movie comes at a very important time in my life, as I struggle with my own health issues. Suzanna was losing herself. She was lost, confused, hearing and seeing things. She was looking up things online and self diagnosing, but the doctors said she was normal. Took one look at her age and said she was partying too much. She was a young pretty blonde college graduate and she was stereotyped as a party girl. This girl through out the movie didn’t have many drinks, even when she did go out. She was a workaholic, as most writers are. We are all searching for that one story that is purpose.

Screenshot 2018-06-29 22.45.07Her blood never showed any alcohol or drugs, but this is what they decided was her diagnosis. Until she had a seizure, followed by outrages of paranoia, and a few more seizures. The doctors ran all the test and everything was normal. They decided that they were going to have her admitted to a mental health facility. Some place that would heavily medicate her until she would die.

I am not saying that all mental health facilities are like this, but once you get in there, the seriousness of your conversation or symptoms are looked on as anxiety and depression or made up things for attention. You lose yourself in places like that because most of the staff unfortunately look at all patients the same, although they are not.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

The parents and one doctor who didnt agree with their prognosis found a doctor who was no longer practicing to find the correct answers. This doctor thought outside the box and found her brain was literally on fire. She was dying and they had to save her quick, too much time had been wasted.

The other doctors had given up and was going to send her to a mental health hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Her parents, boyfriend and that one doctor wasn’t accepting that and because of them and their constant support she was helped. How often does this happen it makes you wonder?

Sometimes we are so busy living our lives that we forget about the things we tell other people or forget to tell them. For example, my esophagus has been closing, but this has been going on for years. It took one doctor to think outside the box and now I have a whole new set of diagnosis. Lets not forget the nurse who was so ready for 5 pm that she forgot to order medication for me to be able to breathe over the weekend.

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Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

This movie was not only real to me, but it was a hard slap to the face. I see what happens when there is no support system in the medical field. Not every doctor is an amazing cast of Grey’s Anatomy. You have to remind the doctors that you are a human being, that you are someones kid, someones parent and build a understanding with the doctor. But what if Suzanna didn’t have a great support system? She would’ve died in an institution and no one would have known any different.

There are plenty of people who don’t have a great support systems. I think of the day my mother went to the hospital with a brain bleed and the doctor wasn’t in the mood to be a doctor today. He made an assumption and said he didn’t think a CT Scan would show anything. I knew my mother I knew something was wrong, she had a Masters Degree and was talking like a child. But we were black and we had on night clothes, we were stereotyped. I made him do one anyway, because a few minutes of his valuable time could possibly save my mothers life.

It did. He thanked me for not listening him, meanwhile I had no other words for him. If I didn’t push, my mother wouldn’t have woken up the next morning. Our healthcare system can sometimes suck, but all it takes is one person to think about the person on the table as their own family.

This was an awesome movie, and I am so glad Suzanna shared her story with the world, because hopefully a doctor will see it and save another life another day.