Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star

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Author: Nicola Yoon

This story follows Natasha, who is a realist and likes facts and science, and Daniel who is a romantic and a poet who believes in true love and ‘koi no yokan’ which is a sense when you first meet a person that you’ll fall in love. Natasha’s family are undocumented Jamaican immigrants and are to be deported before the day ends. On the other hand, Daniel’s parents are Korean immigrants who have very high expectations of him. On their first encounter, Daniel is determined to make Natasha fall in love with him because he believes that fate has brought them together.

I loved the unique structure of this book as it is told from both the character’s point of view with other short chapters explaining the histories of some of the minor characters or informational chapters e.g ‘Hair: An African American History’. Also, I really liked the headline style beginnings for some of Daniel’s chapters, ‘Local Teen Accepts Destiny, Agrees to Become Doctor, Stereotype’ (:D) Despite this book having the cliche aspect of insta-love (it takes place in one day), it is pretty well written! That and the fact that it deals with some issues that are pretty serious, given current world events, like immigration and racism that often tend to get politicized at the expense of the humans that deal with them everyday.

This was such a great and quick read; very heartwarming and beautiful prose. I would recommend her first book Everything Everything if you enjoyed this one.

There’s a pure kind of joy in the certainty of belief. The certainty that your life has purpose and meaning. That, though your earthly life may be hard, there’s a better place in your future, and God has a plan to get you there.

 

For most immigrants, moving to the new country is an act of faith. Even if you’ve heard stories of safety, opportunity and prosperity, it’s still a leap to remove yourself from your own language, people and country . Your own history. What if the stories weren’t true? What if you couldn’t adapt? What if you weren’t wanted in the new country?

Rating: ♥♥♥

Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See

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Author: Anthony Doerr

Goodreads Synopsis

‘Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.’

The writing in this book is very beautiful and almost poetic. The story jumps back and forth between the two character’s perspectives as well as in time so it can get a little confusing but the short chapters make it easy to navigate the different times and perspectives.

If you are into historical fiction then this is a book you should pick up by all means. I enjoy reading stories based on that specific point in time (World War II), and this story in particular is very evocative and heartbreaking. The characters are very ordinary people who are profoundly affected by the war. They find themselves in situations largely driven by circumstance rather than choice. The fact that they are on ‘different sides’ of the war makes their meeting even more beautiful and meaningful.

‘When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?’

If you enjoyed reading this book you might also enjoy Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay , The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Book Review: Wuthering Heights

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Author: Emily Bronte

I picked this book up from my Dad’s old bookshelf a few years ago with the noble intention of reading it but ended up not getting past the first page. Not because it was boring or anything, I literally just read a few lines then maybe got distracted by something? I don’t remember what happened but I decided to pick it up again and I am really glad I did! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book.

This story is largely told from the point of view of Catherine’s ‘nanny’ so to speak as she narrates it to Heathcliff’s new tenant Mr. Lockwood. It basically tells the story of the love between Heathcliff (who was taken in from the streets by Mr. Earnshaw) and Catherine who is Mr. Earnshaw’s legitimate child together with her brother Hindley. Hindley and Catherine initially hate Heathcliff and this is made worse by the fact that their father favors Heathcliff but with time Catherine and Heathcliff bond and become really close.

This of course does not sit well with Catherine’s brother Hindley who always sees Heathcliff as beneath them in terms of social ranking. So when Mr. Earnshaw passes on, Hindley takes the opportunity to put Heathcliff ‘back in his place’ by mistreating him. Heathcliff grows increasingly bitter and decides to leave Wuthering Heights after eavesdropping on a conversation and getting the impression that Catherine can’t marry him because of his low social status. He returns much later looking polished and educated but only to exact his revenge for all the injustice he experienced, perceived or not.

The characters in this book are very human and very unlikable. They’re not your run-of-the-mill protagonists. Basically each and every one of them has flaws so that it was really hard to root for any of them. They’re cruel and wicked and petty and selfish but they’re also very passionate. I have never had so many complicated feelings towards fictional characters and yet I felt like they were an accurate portrayal of the complex human nature. I enjoyed reading this book just because it wasn’t ‘black and white’; I think it’s one of those books you either really like or really hate.

‘He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.’

Rating:♥♥♥♥

Book Review: Me & Earl & the Dying Girl

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Author: Jesse Andrews

Synopsis

‘Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.’

I honestly found this book thoroughly annoying and a waste of a perfectly good book title!

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Rating: ♥♥

Book Review: The Miniaturist

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Author: Jessie Burton

This book follows Petronella Oortman or Nella as she begins her married life in 17th Century Amsterdam to a wealthy and much older man, Johannes Brandt. Her expectations of married life are soon crashed as she has a rocky start with the members of her new household and her new husband isn’t as enthused about the marriage as she’d imagined. He instead gifts her a miniature of their home which she decides to furnish by contracting the services of a miniaturist.

Things start getting a little creepy when the parcels the miniaturist sends mirror what is actually happening in the Brandt household. Nella begins viewing the miniaturist as some sort of prophet because if miniatures start predicting the future who wouldn’t right? Creepy dolls aside, the book tackles issues that are common in the 21st century; sexuality, feminism and race. And I’m not sure what 17th century Amsterdam was like but the protagonists handle these issues unbelievably well!

I enjoyed reading this book, the author has a way with words. The writing is really beautiful. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters but it’s one of those books you read where the sentences are so lovely you forgive the flaws.

My favorite quote from the book:

‘When you have truly come to know a person, Nella – when you see beneath the sweeter gestures, the smiles – when you see the rage and the pitiful fear which each of us hide – then forgiveness is everything. We are all in desperate need of it. . ‘

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Book Review: Room

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Author: Emma Donoghue

Synopsis

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.’

I initially went into this book thinking oh-boy! He’s gonna talk in this horrible English for the entire book! :O But as I went along I got reeled into the story, or maybe I got used to the horrible English, I don’t know. Okay the narrator is five, so I guess a level of tediousness is allowed? That aside, the story is great! I read this in a sitting because I had to know if Jack and Ma were going to be okay. One of my favorite lines from this book, ‘ When I was a little kid I thought like a little kid, but now I’m five I know everything.‘Cute! 😀 I didn’t understand why his communication was a little weird though, because his mum spoke normally to him and he watched TV and they read books so. . . .that was a bit confusing. But the story is beautiful and heartbreaking and its one of the best books I’ve read this year. I highly recommend it!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥