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You Never Forget Your First
You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington | Alexis Coe
31 posts | 27 read | 23 to read
In a genre overdue for a shakeup, Alexis Coe takes a closer look at our first--and finds he's not quite the man we remember Young George Washington was raised by a struggling single mother, demanded military promotions, chased rich young women, caused an international incident, and never backed down--even when his dysentery got so bad he had to ride with a cushion on his saddle. But after he married Martha, everything changed. Washington became the kind of man who named his dog Sweetlips and hated to leave home. He took up arms against the British only when there was no other way, though he lost more battles than he won. Coe focuses on his activities off the battlefield--like espionage and propaganda. After an unlikely victory in the Revolutionary War, Washington once again shocked the world by giving up power, only to learn his compatriots wouldn't allow it. The founders pressured him into the presidency--twice. He established enduring norms but left office heartbroken over the partisan nightmare his backstabbing cabinet had created. Back on his plantation, the man who fought for liberty finally confronted his greatest hypocrisy--what to do with the hundreds of men, women, and children he owned--before succumbing to a brutal death. Alexis Coe combines rigorous research and unsentimental storytelling, finally separating the man from the legend.
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Andrea313
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Pickpick

A concise, clever bio of Washington that just hits the high points, with an emphasis on the women and enslaved people whose lives are mere footnotes in other works. Plus the glorious introduction doubles as a fantastic take-down of The Men Who Write History and I am here for every bit of it.

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Andrea313
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Just a few off my #OctoberPile, with the cool breeze of a Michigan fall right outside that door! Can't wait to get started! #LittensDressedInBlood #MittenLitten #TBR

fredthemoose I didn‘t realize #MittenLitten was a thing! I‘m in Ann Arbor but work in Detroit. ☺️ 4mo
AmyG Go Blue!!!! 4mo
Andrea313 @fredthemoose Yes! There are a bunch of us who use the tag, and it's always fun to see who is local. I live and work in Detroit. 😊 4mo
JamieArc We are having a strange, but really nice fall here in Lansing! A nice breeze, but definitely not cool at 78 and sunny! 4mo
28 likes4 comments
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Lauren_reading
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Pickpick

As a romance lover I grabbed this George Washington biography based purely on the title.It was entertaining and honest about how while Americans have put him in a pedestal he was just a man and made mistakes.He also acknowledged that enslaving people was wrong, but didn‘t do anything to change that in his lifetime.In fact he participated in and enforced it.The facts in this book were at times funny and snarky. I appreciate learning more about him.

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Pedrocamacho
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Pickpick

I enjoyed this biography of George Washington. It is more about the person, his relationships, his slaves, and his inner anxieties. It is a welcome and necessary addition to the corpus of books about Washington.

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Jgotham
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Pickpick

I throughly enjoyed this book. I liked her style so much I‘m hoping she writes more books! (And I‘m reading the other soon!) I was so happy with her commentary about Chernow‘s book as I quit a few chapters in with the same complaints. It‘s nice to not have a huge boring biography but something engaging even tho it‘s smaller. I like her not flossing over his Indigenous genocide as well-not many writers do that. Recommended #presidents

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ataleortwo
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Pickpick

Biographies aren't usually my thing, but I really enjoyed this one! Amusing, inspiring, baffling, balanced, and entertaining. Recommend.

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britt_brooke
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Pickpick

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I welcome a presidential biography that isn‘t bogged down with every minuscule, mundane detail. My goal is not to become some Washington scholar. This was just enough info for me. Coe hits the highs and lows, adding a bit of fitting humor. I wasn‘t put off by her assessment of typical door-stopper, male-written pres biographies. She made valid, if snarky, points. But, honestly, there‘s room for all the biographies, FFS.
#coverlove

mdm139 Sounds interesting. My son is learning about his presidency in school. 12mo
Cinfhen This sounds delightful 💚and the title is 😂😂😂thanks for the tag xx totally adding to my #AudioTBR 12mo
britt_brooke @Cinfhen If ever you get tired of me tagging you, let me know. 😂 12mo
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Cinfhen Nope! I‘m SUPER HAPPY 😃🎉🙌🏻thanks, Britt xx 12mo
britt_brooke @Cinfhen 🥰🤗✨ 12mo
britt_brooke @mdm139 It‘s an entertaining listen! 12mo
CallMeIshmael It was perfect I have recommended this to everyone as and easy historical book 12mo
britt_brooke @CallMeIshmael I‘m pretty sure I stacked this because of you, so thanks! 12mo
111 likes1 stack add8 comments
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britt_brooke
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This gorgeous sunrise made the 22°F, 2-mile dog walk tolerable this morning. ?

#audiowalk

97 likes4 comments
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Sharpeipup
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#audiocooking
🥣 carrot apple ginger soup with chicken apple sausage

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catiewithac
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Pickpick

This is not your dad‘s biography! I really enjoyed this fresh look at George Washington‘s life. There‘s more about his domestic affairs than the other bios I‘ve read, but there‘s still plenty of action, spying and silent stewing. GW has always been my favorite president because of his mystery, charisma, and stony deportment. We couldn‘t have become the United States without him! ♥️ 🇺🇸 This bio is woke!

iread2much Oooo, sounds like a good read! Congrats on reading it in one night 😄 13mo
catiewithac @iread2much It‘s a page-turner (and only 200 pages!) 🤓 13mo
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catiewithac
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Rachel, thank you so much for the wonderful #JolabokaflodSwap gifts!! This is my FAVORITE swap of the year and I was thrilled that you were paired with me 👯‍♀️ I‘ve already eaten half the M&Ms and started this book! Love it! Thank you so much, my friend 💜📚😍

Crazeedi Merry Christmas!!❄🎁☃️ 13mo
Mitch Ahh - I have this on my shelf and wanted to read it for Non Fiction November but run out of time! Maybe January! Enjoy! 😘 13mo
AmyG Merry Christmas, Catie! 13mo
iread2much You are so welcome! This is also my favorite swap and I am so happy that I got you! 13mo
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CallMeIshmael
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Pickpick

This is book isn‘t nearly as detailed as other biographies but it‘s great in it‘s simplicity. It tells the story and it‘s perfect for younger ones and doesn‘t weigh you down with intimate details. Those books exist and I‘m glad for them but this was fun. Also Washington wasn‘t that great a guy and neither was Martha for the war they treated slaves. Our history is embarrassing

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LaLove
Bailedbailed

I‘m sure it‘s fine, but other books came up on my library hold list and it wasn‘t holding my interest enough to prioritize.

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Kaarin
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Pickpick

Great biography!

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beaconhillbooks
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Pickpick

Sure this isn‘t Chernow‘s tome but isn‘t that kinda nice? Coe gives us a quick and easily digestible bio of George, and I for one am here for it. Isn‘t there room for both types of biographies in this world? Found my late night reading steered to this book til I finished.

Traci1 Sometimes I'll read juvenile bios just because they give you the broad stroke info in an accessible way. I enjoy big heavy books too, but if I really want info they can sometimes be so dense that I learn next to nothing and come away just feeling dumb. 1y
beaconhillbooks Right... or never get through them! 1y
9 likes2 comments
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Annie1215
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GIVEAWAY🚨

Not sure how many are left - but one of my local bookstores is doing a giveaway of this book for the first 60 people! I just got mine. Go to the link in their bio to try and snag yours before they‘re gone! I only had to pay for shipping!

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LisaLovesToRead
Mehso-so

I learned some new things about George Washington. Overall though, I‘m not sure that I would recommend this book. It wasn‘t horrible, but I didn‘t love it.

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perfectlywinged
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Pickpick

A more condensed bio of George Washington that talks about his good qualities (a true family man and killer commander) and his not so great (he really wanted to keep his slaves). This quote from the intro is perfection: "So...you are writing a book about George Washington....is it about his marriage?" "No." "His wife?" NO." "His social life?" "No! It's a biography. Like a man would write."

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DAB
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This is a good title.

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Megabooks
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Pickpick

I think she wanted to make this humorous but pulled back.

While certainly different than most Washington biographies, it‘s not 1000 pages, she should‘ve probably not tried to cover his whole life & his complicated interpersonal relationships and legacies in a 7 hour audiobook.

I enjoyed her assessment of his relationship with his mother, wife and other family, as well as his slaves. But her coverage of his war record and presidency lacked. 3.5⭐️

Cinfhen Great review/ I think I‘ll pass on this one 😘Love the title 2y
Megabooks @Cinfhen it just barely squeaked over so-so. I think that‘s a good decision. 2y
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AvidReader25
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Pickpick

This biography of Washington approaches the subject with a heavy dose of cynicism. Instead of glorifying his deeds in battle it criticizes his treatment of his slaves. It's well-written & easy to read. It‘s a difficult topic, as it's easy to skim over the dark aspects of the founding fathers, but the author uses historical documents to back up her claims. He did many great things, but enslaving people to work his plantation is abhorrent.

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Melismatic
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Mehso-so

I went into this hoping to learn some things (which I did) and see a more honest/modern viewpoint on who Washington was. I didn‘t quite get what I wanted as the majority is a straightforward biography. There is some insight on the relations with the slaves he hired but not as much honesty as expected. If you‘re expecting a progressive POV, it‘s not really in this read.

Photo snapped while #audiowalking

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Melismatic
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Did some #audiowalking this afternoon. This was painted in the window of a local pizza place.

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Tessareadsbooks
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Great love stories don‘t often begin with dysentery.

Such a perfect line!

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jenniferw88
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Thank you @runswithscissors007 #Presidentialbookswap arrived safely today! I can't wait to dive into both of these!

runswithscissors007 Have you read the John Oliver book?!! I couldn‘t resist the vice presidential nod😬😬😬. Hope you enjoy!!🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼 2y
Dcueto I‘ve been so curious about this! Let me know how you like it 2y
jenniferw88 @runswithscissors007 I haven't read it, but it was on one of many tbr's! 😂 2y
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Amiable
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Mehso-so

NOTE: This review/rant continues in the comments ...
I had high hopes for this book. By the end, however, I was regretting the money I‘d spent on the e-book. There‘s $13.99 I will never get back.
It didn‘t help that the author begins by insulting anyone who has ever enjoyed the more academic and thoroughly researched presidential biographies on Washington, including Ron Chernow‘s “Washington: A Life.” ⬇️

Amiable She derisively dismisses them as 1,000-page books that “will always appear as if they are for men of a certain age, intended to be purchased on Presidents‘ or Father‘s Day.” I personally am very tired of seeing presidential biographies and certain kinds of historical narratives referred to as “Dad books.” I, most assuredly not a man or a father, love these kinds of books. Can we please stop making assumptions about readers? ⬇️ (edited) 2y
Amiable It's true that many books about white men in history are written by white men today. I am a huge fan of Doris Kearns Goodwin and will read anything she writes. I'd love to see more books by woman historians researching and analyzing our Founding Fathers from a female perspective. But this book by Alexis Coe doesn't really add anything to the discussion. She attacks white male Washington biographers like Chernow for getting it all “wrong.” ⬇️ (edited) 2y
Amiable The problem? Coe‘s work doesn‘t rise to the same level of scholarship and academia. To paraphrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen (another historical figure – look him up), I have seen Ron Chernow‘s works. I have read Ron Chernow‘s work. You, Ms. Coe, are no Ron Chernow. ⬇️ (edited) 2y
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Amiable Coe berates these white-male biographers for making assumptions and supposedly perpetuating myths about Washington (like the oft-told tale of his chopping down the cherry tree). And then she goes right into her text and does exactly that very same thing. As the mother of two boys I found this example particularly egregious: she makes a claim – based on nothing other than a few words in a letter from Washington‘s colleague that asks ⬇️ (edited) 2y
Amiable him if he‘s been “enchanted by charms even stranger to the Ciprian Dame” (this being 18th-century slang for “a woman you are having sex with other than your wife”) – that this insinuates “it is therefore possible Washington had a sexual relationship with a woman other than Martha, and that possibility includes nonconsensual sex with an enslaved woman.” Um, what? It‘s quite a leap from “Washington may have had a mistress” (a theory for which ⬇️ (edited) 2y
Amiable there is actual physical evidence in the form of several randy and flirtatious letters to and from Sally Fairfax, the wife of Washington‘s friend) to “Washington was probably raping his female slaves.” Is it possible? Sure. Washington had the means (a penis) and the opportunity (he enslaved nearly 300 human beings, including many women). But that‘s a huge assumption to make. It‘s like saying every college male who has ever been in a fraternity ⬇️ (edited) 2y
Amiable more than likely committed date rape because they are a) men and B) in a fraternity. Is it possible? Yes. Is it definite fact? Not even a little bit.
For all that, the worst part of this book might actually be the brevity of it. In Chernow‘s book, you delve into Washington‘s life and actions and—yes, flaws—in depth with a greater understanding. This book, which clocks in at just over 200 pages of text, stays on the surface only and skims over ⬇️
(edited) 2y
Amiable pretty much every event or fact of Washington‘s life. His daring and heroic crossing of the Delaware River on the night of December 25–26, 1776, which raised the flagging spirits of the American colonists who feared that the Continental Army was incapable of victory and were just about to throw in the towel? Less than half a page. Yes. Just a few sentences. 😳 In the end, I am giving this 2 stars (mostly because my bar for 1-star read is ⬇️ (edited) 2y
Amiable “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and very few books are THAT bad). If you don‘t have the time, patience, intellectual ability or attention span to read an excellently researched and superbly written 900+page book like Ron Chernow‘s “Washington: A Life,” then go ahead and pick this up. It‘s a quick read. You won‘t learn a whole lot about George Washington, but you might retain a few factoids that can help you win trivia night at the bar the next time. (edited) 2y
Amiable @ljuliel Here is my review -- do with it what you will! ;) 2y
Suet624 I absolutely adore this review. Thank you for writing it. 2y
ljuliel Bravo 👏🏻. Great review ! After reading the reviews on Amazon ( good and bad) , I didn‘t like the VIBE this girl was giving ..I don‘t know about you, but I would NEVER attempt to rip any of Chernow‘s books apart and say he was incorrect, slanted too much in one direction, etc. As said, I‘ve read the first maybe 200-300 pages , and he seems to point out Washington‘s flaws, along with his qualities. I‘d like to know what HE thinks of this book 🤔 2y
Amiable @Suet624 It‘s been a long time since a book irritated me as much as this one did. 😖 (edited) 2y
Amiable @ljuliel We all know that every single historian/writer brings his or her own opinions and perspectives and—yes—biases to their books. They are human, after all. It‘s to be expected. Chernow is not immune to it. But I‘ve read a lot of nonfiction and I always feel that he tries very hard to be as objective as he can. This author, however, has this smug, supercilious tone that grinds my gears. It‘s like she‘s sneering at us old farts who aren‘t ⬇️ (edited) 2y
Amiable “woke enough” to understand and recognize that racism and sexism existed —and still exists— in history. I find it rather offensive, truth be told. (edited) 2y
ljuliel Yes, I get what you‘re saying. I keep thinking it‘s me, just getting older and crabbier , but some of the younger folks‘ comments get on my last nerve. I don‘t think either one of us is so old that we forget that people in the past used offensive language . We know that each generation of females has had it more difficult with being respected and treated equally. What bothers me most is when they think people hundreds of years ago should 👇🏼👇🏼 2y
ljuliel ☝🏼☝🏼” behave”, and act like they are supposed to NOW. Things were different back then. All the rules were different in every area. I try very hard to be accepting of the changes in today‘s world, compared to when I was growing up. There are things I don‘t approve of, but it‘s part of our world , so I need to understand it and deal with it. They need to understand us and meet in the middle someplace. 2y
j9brown Wow, really great review, thanks for sharing! I was mildly curious about this one (mostly because I like the cover), but I will definitely be skipping it now. I can't stand that smug sort of tone. 2y
Crazeedi @Amiable @ljuliel I TOTALLY agree with everything you've written. Culture changes as we grow, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. I'm tired of our history being destroyed and denigrated just because cultures were not the same. We have grown and become better so why dont we celebrate that instead of dissing every hero who imagined this unique experiment called America 2y
Amiable @ljuliel @j9brown @Crazeedi It would be one thing if Coe had brought some original research to the book. But all she did was examine the work done by others and then applied her own 21st-century opinions and perspective to it while proclaiming their ideas and conclusions as “wrong” because they aren‘t the same as hers. They aren‘t “wrong”— they are just different interpretations of the same facts. 2y
Crazeedi @Amiable exactly, I've read a few other authors who think they are the expert on the truth and they really skew their "facts" 2y
63 likes21 comments
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Amiable
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Okay, only 29 pages in and I‘m irritated. I‘m so tired of seeing presidential biographies and certain kinds of historical narratives referred to as “Dad books.” My father does not read these books. My husband, who is also a father, does not read them either. I, who am most assuredly not a man, read them. I love these kinds of books. Can we please stop categorizing books by the types of readers we assume are picking them up?

LiteraryinLawrence Well said @Amiable (edited) 2y
Scochrane26 My dad actually does read a lot of history books, but I‘ve also read at least one that I‘ve passed on to him. I don‘t like the “chick-lit” label & how publishers make the covers to fit what they think women will want. 2y
Amiable @Scochrane26 Exactly—if a book is labeled as “chick lit” or even “women‘s literary fiction,” how many men are going to pick it up? 2y
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ljuliel I just looked this up on Amazon. Interesting when a book has so many 5 star, then 1 star ratings. I‘m curious as to how the age brackets play out ? From the sounds of the reviews( good and bad), she uses some trashy language in places. Pretty brave (? ) of her to call out Chernow for possibly whitewashing the truth. I haven‘t yet completed Washington , but I think Chernow was fair in dishing out praise and flaws equally. (edited) 2y
Amiable @ljuliel I actually really enjoyed Chernow‘s book about Washington. Like you I thought Chernow did a great job of showing George‘s flaws as well as his greatness —I felt like I was seeing him as a real person rather than a mythical heroic being. I‘m keeping an open mind about the things she points out, however. We‘ll see. 2y
ljuliel I‘ll be watching for your review. There‘s a 6 month waiting list at our libraries , so I‘ll hold off on it for now. 2y
56 likes6 comments
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Amiable
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In honor of his 288th birthday today, I‘m starting this biography of George Washington. Happy birthday, George! 🎉

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Carleneishere
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Only 20 pages in and I‘m already recommending it to everyone I know

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Liberty
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HERE COMES THE GENERAL: Getting ready to read this book on little-known truths about the first-est of Founding Fathers, the “model of a modern major general, the venerated Virginian veteran whose men are all lining up to put me up on a pedestal.” (And, yes, that is a skeleton of Thomas Jefferson, but it‘s the only thing I have with a Founding Father in it.) 🇺🇸

DimeryRene Awesome! 💀💀 2y
3CatsToTheWind What did you think of this one? Recommend? I prefer nonfiction that's really accessible/reads almost like fiction. 2y
3CatsToTheWind Liberty? Or anyone else who has read this want to chime in? 😊 Do you recommend this one? 2y
76 likes3 stack adds3 comments