The Book Nook
Le Coin Lecture
Curl up and grab one of these books to help you navigate the work that's ahead.
This list is meant to help, challenge, and encourage discussions around DEI, Anti-Racism and Emerging Leadership practices.
November 1, 2022
Credit: Chapters Indigo Canada
I Hope We Choose Love by Kai Cheng Thom
What's this about?
I Hope We Choose Love by Kai Cheng Thom is a brilliant, heartfelt, deeply personal collection of essays and poetry, all of which are asking the same question in different ways, in Thom’s words, “What can we hope for at the end of the world?”
This collection of essays touches on many different themes that relate to Thom’s own identity and experience within social justice circles. As its title suggests, the book does talk about love and heartbreak, but beyond simply the personal and individual experience of it; it speaks of her experience with it from a community point of view as well. Some essays don’t shy away from being brutally honest, emotionally raw – yet, Thom also writes from a place of hope, from a place of wanting to heal, wanting to survive through the end of the world and how we can all do it together, as communities. Though many would describe I Hope We Choose Love as provocative, it also offers nuanced perspectives in a time where we have never been more polarized about politics and social justice.
About The Author
Kai Cheng Thom is a force within social-justice communities. A quick-witted, sharp-tongued, staggeringly prolific trans woman of colour, Thom is known primarily for her insightful and critical writing – including a fairy-tale novel, a book of poetry, a children’s book, and dozens of articles and think pieces. She’s also worked as a therapist and social worker. Keeping in mind that all of this has been accomplished before her 30th birthday, it’s easy to see why she’s held in such high esteem by the activist left.
Personal essays, social justice, anti-oppression, trans rights, queerness, identity politics
What We Liked
The tone of this collection of essays is definitely one of its most interesting aspects. Thom is particularly skilled at telling the truth like it is, like she lives it, but not without humour and tenderness. Each of these essays brings something interesting to many different conversations about social justice, from within social justice circles. This “insider” point of view is particularly compelling, as it doesn’t try to be academic. I Hope We Choose Love doesn’t pretend to add anything particularly groundbreaking to conversations about anti-oppression, but rather, aims to offer personal insight and a subjective take on theoretical concepts.
What this book is : a collection of essays and poetry delving into different topics surrounding social justice, marginalized communities, and the dynamics within progressive movements.
What this book isn't : a textbook, academic essays offering facts and theory
Why Read This Book
In many ways, I Hope We Choose Love reads like a journal, as if Thom decided to share with us not only her thoughts, but her heart, her soul, her deep wounds. She also offers us her ideas without attempting to “academicize” them; she’s always honest about her own shortcomings and how these essays do not attempt to be objective. They are personal essays, informed by Thom’s identity as a trans woman of colour, by her experiences with relationships and community.
Kai Cheng Thom is a truly gifted writer, who manages to convey complex ideas in a way that remains easily approachable, even when the ideas and experiences she talks about are not immediately relatable to the reader. Anyone who has been involved in social justice movements, who considers themselves an “intesectional feminist” should read this book – I Hope We Choose Love is a love letter to them, to all the activists, feminists, community organizers out there who feel burnout, who feel trapped by the prevalent discourse, who are tired of arguing about cancel culture, who feel lonely, and at times, desperate by the growing uncertainty of our future and the state of the world.
“So this is a book about love. This is a book about revolutionary love. Love that might not save us at the end of the world but that might make it possible to live through. It may be hard to believe. It will be harder to live. I hope we choose it anyway.” (p.11)
Get the Gist
“In a heartbreaking yet hopeful collection of personal essays and prose poems, blending the confessional, political, and literary, acclaimed poet and essayist Kai Cheng Thom dives deep into the questions that haunt social movements today. With the author's characteristic eloquence and honesty, I Hope We Choose Love proposes heartfelt solutions on the topics of violence, complicity, family, vengeance, and forgiveness. Taking its cues from contemporary thought leaders in the transformative justice movement such as adrienne maree brown and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, this provocative book is a call for nuance in a time of political polarization, for healing in a time of justice, and for love in an apocalypse.”
Read the full description from the publisher’s website here.
How does it fare?
“Many of the essays in I Hope We Choose Love end with an invocation of hope for community, lifting readers out of the messiness of everyday conflict and minutiae and into a space where personal and collective freedom can be imagined and practiced. In turn, unheard emotions, language, and a desire for spiritual guidance emerge within her poems, which use repetition, dialogue, and folkloric imagery to transform the mundane and social into the mythical and fantastical.”
- Jane Shi, Plenitude Magazine
“In this respect, Thom is at the top of her game with I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl’s Notes from the End of the World, a collection of essays that draw on her personal experience with social-justice culture. Thom uses frameworks she’s learned through doing therapy work, as well as those of leftist critique, to highlight problematic dynamics within her own communities of queer and socially conscious people.”
- Nour Abi Nakhoul, Quill & Quire