gwendolyn faith is not a crayon.

Hello, I’m Gwen.

I work in advertising. I play in the kitchen.

I’m part tweenager. (Look at my iTunes playlist.)

I’m part Grandma. (Look at my oversize cardi collection.)

I’m part Romy or Michelle. (Look at the height of my hair.)

As a Christian, I'm learning how to glorify God in the everyday. To live into the status quo, like Jesus' own Manchurian candidate, and seep grace through its cracks.

I wish my life were a musical, but other than that, I’m pretty content.

(No surprise I also like to Yelp.)

The Casual Vacancy
The Explicit Gospel
Gone Girl
The Chaperone
Cutting for Stone

Gwen Daniels's favorite books »


NW, by Zadie Smith

More often than not I finish a book without the urge to talk about it. Not NW, the latest from Zadie Smith.

I read White Teeth, Zadie Smith’s lauded first novel, over a winter break from college, when I disappeared into my room Christmas morning instead of celebrating with my family, greedy for chapter after chapter after chapter until I reached the end.

Like the true literati (riiight), I eagerly awaited Smith’s next novels, ready to lose myself in another of her vivid stories. I was interested enough in the short blurb to describe NW: Four Northwest Londoners—Leah, Felix, Natalie and Nathan—try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. Unfortunately, NW transported me not to Northwest London but to AP English class, where I couldn’t read a book without self-consciously analyzing each page.

Indeed, Smith masterfully manipulates the form of her novel to reveal more about each of her characters. In the first section, Smith introduces us to Leah, who lives with her hairdresser husband not too far from the housing project of her youth. Facing pressure from family and friends to finally have a child of her own, she struggles to maintain control over her body and her life; like the pressure from the outside, her narrative threatens to engulf her, as long paragraphs free from quotations confuse her own thoughts with others’.

In the short middle section devoted to Felix, a man with a checkered past who’s now determined to do better for himself, Smith assumes a more conventional structure, but small aberrations in form remind the reader he hasn’t quite found his place among the upwardly mobile

In the final section, which follows Leah’s friend Natalie’s ascent out of Caldwell to the upper-middle-class, Smith writes 185 short numbered chapters, sequential but splintered, some only a few fragmented lines, that emphasize Natalie’s incoherent conception of self. Throughout the section, Smith uses the Natalie’s first and last name, further conveying the character’s own sense of detachment. 

But while I admire Smith’s capabilities as an artist of the written word, I didn’t grow to care about—or even care for—the characters themselves. I wasn’t absorbed in the story itself. And after I finished, I wasn’t anxious to tell my friends to read the book. No, I was anxious to write a book report of sorts, just like I did in AP English.

(If I were actually an AP English student, I’d probably detail why the literary devices didn’t forge a bond between me and the characters, or something, but I’m a, um, young professional who’s running out of steam.)

Chicago officially experienced its coldest for months ever on record, y’all. According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature for December 2013 to March 2014 period in  Chicago was only 22.0°F, 10 degrees below freezing, beating the old record set in the winter of 1903-04.

h/t Ali


Anne and Gilbert: my original OTP. 

One True Pairing, says Urban Dictionary.

Fabulous news from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago!


Please join us in celebrating the 1000th Site Based match served!!   The agency has never before served 1000 SB youth and we are extremely excited to reach this milestone.Congratulations to the Site Based and CSP teams for all of their hard work to make these matches!!

Learn more about Site Base Mentoring

Get involved: Start Something

Y’all. I don’t often make sandwiches, but Food & Wine’s Spicy Pork Po’ Boys make a more-than-welcome change of routine. The pork meatballs—spiked with paprika, thyme, cayenne and garlic powder—are jam-packed with flavor; the cheater’s remoulade gets its magic from diced pickles.

Over the weekend I invited my friend Katie over to share the meal. With a little chopping, stirring and seasoning, the sandwiches came together quickly, although the meatballs needed longer than eight minutes to cook through, and made enough for lunchtime leftovers for the next few days. I might try ‘em as lettuce wraps, too.

photo via.

I said yes to the {bridesmaids’} dress! On Saturday after a round of glow-in-the-dark miniature golf with the girls of Teen Exodus, the Junior League’s program that introduces high school students from underserved neighborhoods to new activities across the city, I met Lexi and her other Chicagoland maids at Bella Bridesmaid to find our dresses for the big day. The six of us tried on dress after dress in the same color and material, each settling on our favorite style. Now I’m even more excited to celebrate with Lexi in October {and with Kendall in May}!



Theo James for GQ

I saw Divergent on Thursday night. I am 100% confident in saying he was the best part of the movie.


Must Every YA Action Heroine Be Petite?

From Divergent's Tris to The Hunger Games' Katniss, the women of young-adult fiction can be strong, independent, and mature—as long as they're also scrawny.

Read more. [Image: Lionsgate; Summit]

(via gjmueller)

(HD) The Giver - Official Trailer - The Weinstein Company

Let’s forget the disappointment that is Divergent and turn our attention to the award-winning original tween dystopian tale. Think if we send positive vibes to the universe for the next five months, The Giver on film will live up to its promise, besting the lackluster Divergent flick? And if not, I’d settle for watching two hours of Theo James, who might be the best thing to come from dystopia since Peeta and Katniss.


Can Focus On ‘Grit’ Work In School Cultures That Reward Grades?

Around the nation, schools are beginning to see grit as key to students’ success—and just as important to teach as reading and math.

Experts define grit as persistence, determination and resilience; it’s that je ne sais quoi that drives one kid to practice trumpet or study Spanish for hours—or years—on end, while another quits after the first setback.

But can grit be taught?