Songs for the Missing

…by Stewart O’Nan.

A story about a teenager who goes missing in a small town and the trauma that it brings about in her family. A story of a quest for a missing person that lasts for years before it comes to end. Kim Larsen works at a local store during the summer after her high school graduation. Apart from working and hanging out with her friends and boyfriend, she is also preparing to go to college starting fall. One fine day, after spending some time with her younger sister, she gets ready to go meet her friends and then to go to work from there before heading home at night…but instead never returns. She goes missing into thin air…and the family, friends and community start searching for her.

The story lays out the events that take place leading to Kim going missing as well as what happens after. Everything from what the police does to how the community pulls together to offer all the help, from how the family shatters to bits to what the friends do to help, how Kim’s parents and sister cope with the loss to till when the hope to find her lasts.

The story started out very fast paced but lost the grip towards the end. Personally, it wasn’t as emotionally excruciating as I would’ve expected a story like this to be. The book does not delve a lot into solving the mystery of the missing person, but rather concentrates on how the characters – parents, sister, best friend, and boyfriend – deal the loss in their own way, which to me translated that it should be strong on the emotional end, but it wasn’t that intense. Although the author lays out the emotional struggle that each and every one associated with Kim goes through, it didn’t quite strike a chord for the most part.

The author’s writing style is simple and precise. His narration of all the characters and their feelings is clever. The pace was quick in the beginning of the story, but started to slow down towards the end, with some unwarranted details and unanswered questions.

Overall, this novel was an easy and realistic read as to how life goes on no matter what. I would recommend it – but just keep in mind that the story is not about solving the mystery of the missing person, but how it affects the lives of those involved.

My rating: 3*.

*for the rating scale, click here.

Feb’10 Reader’s Choice Book of the Month is…

Buddha, the story of enlightenment by Deepak Chopra.

We received equal number of votes for Buddha and The Good Earth. So we are going to be reading one in February and the other in March.

What are you waiting for now? Get going :)…read the book sometime before the 25th of February so we can take the last few days of the month to come back here and discuss.

Happy reading everyone! Enjoy!

-Team BWB.

Front Cover Friday – 2

The Writing Class caught my eye some months ago as I was perusing through my local book store. The attractive and yet, simple cover appealed to me. It may have had to do with my love for writing and my love for stationery. I found this cover to be a very unique way of presenting the characters in the book (i.e. those undertaking the writing class) as well as at the same time, managing to convey the setting. And I’m sure we can all tell based on the different pens that represent each character, just how different these characters are. And have you all made your assumptions about these characters like I have?? :)

Anyway, I haven’t yet read this book. But it’s still on my to-read list.

The book is a whodunnit and is about a murder. At the same time, it is also humourous. I guess you could think of it as those black comedy movie genres.

A review by Deborah Oakes on Associated Content had this to say about the book:

This class of wannabes is rich with characters and what takes place among them is ingenious. There are students in the class to actually learn to write, some to meet the opposite sex, a doctor, lawyer, one student who worships Amy and other assorted individuals.

What Jincy Willet does with this canvas is hysterical. I don’t think I have enjoyed fiction writing so much. It was particularly interesting because the story is told from several points of view. One narrator you don’t know until the end who it is but it adds interest. Jincy never lost me with this part of the plot in her fiction novel.

Once the murder mystery started though, I didn’t enjoy the book as much. Imagine my disappointment because I didn’t find the novel nearly as entertaining after that. I felt the material was great without murder and I wanted it to continue. I will say this though, the murder mystery is good and kept me guessing. I felt drawn right into the action of it.

It looks like a light read and I still intend on buying it despite the review saying the murder bit was a disappointment. Who knows? I might just stumble upon another favourite author?

Reader’s Choice for February 2010 – Polling

Hi Readers,

As mentioned in one of the earlier posts, the Reader’s Choice book reading endeavor will start from February. We’ve put the suggestions we received from you and our choices together. Please take a few minutes to vote for whichever book you would like to read during February, so we can all get back together here towards the end of the month to discuss the book. Thank you for your time.

The poll will be open till January 30th. We will let you know about the final choice for February Reader’s Choice on the 31st of January.

Enjoy!

-Team BWB.

Midnight’s Children

…by Salman Rushdie.


(This a very vague summary of the story. There are too many characters and too many situations that it will take me forever to properly write a outline. So please forgive me.)

A story about the birth of India as a free nation and the political course that the country takes afterward. The novel is written from an autobiographical point of view by Saleem Sinai. The story walks you through 30 odd years of Saleem’s life. Saleem was born on 15th August 1947 at the stroke of midnight…along with the birth of the Indian nation. There is one other kid, Shiva, born right at midnight and thousand other babies born all over the country between midnight and 1 AM of the 15th of August 1947. Each of these kids are said to possess special powers. Saleem tells the story of his family, relatives, friends and how his life unfolds in the free country. Along the course of his narration, the readers get an idea of how his fate crosses path with India’s political development.

The idea behind the novel is intriguing – kids being born during the birth of their nation possessing special powers. But that’s all there is about the Midnight’s Children. The reference to them didn’t seem (to me) like the main theme in the greater scheme of the story. The children are discussed, their special powers are put forth, but there isn’t a big part that they play in the story as such (except for Saleem). Either the concept of Midnight’s Children shouldn’t have been the main theme or the story must’ve highlighted their importance better…half of this and half of that didn’t do much magic.

What I enjoyed though was reading all about India’s political scene after independence and the India-Pakistan relationship. The author has dived into it in quite a bit of details – all the facts combined with the fiction didn’t fail to impress me. It kept me going.

The author’s writing style is different and will definitely take a while to get used to (at least I took quite some time). But once you follow the rhythm of his prose, then reading the book is a piece of cake. If I were to divide the book into three parts…the first part took a long time to read because I was getting used to the author’s writing style, the second part was witty, fast paced, and a pleasure to read, and the third part, even though, interesting, it was dragged.

It took me weeks to finish this book because I had to spend time getting used to the writing, the book wasn’t faced paced throughout, it does leave you with a feeling of wanting to move forward, but it’s definitely not page turner, and it was stretched out towards the end. So, as for me, although it took me a long time to wrap this book, I will definitely read other works by this author because now I’m pretty used to (surely, not totally at ease with…not yet) his narrating style.

So, overall, if you have read the author and like his work, then go ahead…this is a good read. But if you aren’t used to his writing style, then do read a page or two before buying the book to get a sense of how you like it.

My rating: 3*.

*for the rating scale, click here.

Dollar Bahu

Quick Data

Author: Sudha Murty

ISBN: 10:0-14310-376-8

Price: 150 INR

The story plot is around money which is portrayed in the form of Dollar. How the dollar changes the relationships,way of living,the way of thinking and a human being in totality ! The story has three sets of couples-Gouramma-Shammana,Vinuta-Girish,Chandru-Jamuna.

Girish and Chandru are two sons apart from a daughter,Surabhi, of Gouramma-Shammana. Shammana being a school teacher all his life, they are a middle class family with no frills and laces attached to their simple life. But the wife ,who is  a dominant head of the house-Gouramma-dreams high and wishes at least one of her sons goes to the US of A and earn money dollars and uplift their lifestyle. Finally her dream, which is a remote possibility, comes true for Chandru. He is off to the US of A and starts earning in dollars and since he climbs the rungs of success pretty quickly he becomes a rich man and Gouramma realizes her dream of spending lavishly and buying costly silk sarees and the works.

The two sons get married one after the other. As obvious it seems-Girish gets married to a very simple-coming from a poor family-girl Vinuta. On the other hand since Chandru lives in the states and is a rich man he attracts rich alliances out of which he gets married to Jamuna-who is of course not a simple and sweet girl.

Yes,the real story begins.How Gouramma keeps praising the Dollar Bahu-Jamuna who lives miles away and keeps cursing Vinuta who is always there at her beck and call.Gouramma becomes the alice in wonderland and her fairy tale ends only when she has to live in the US with Chandru and Jamuna for Jamuna’s delivery. 12 months that Gouramma spends with Jamuna makes her realise the truth and the value of Vinuta.She realises that she has been wrong in judging her daughter-in-laws despite of her husabnd telling her the stark differnce between Vinuta and Jamuna.

Gouramma decides that once she goes back to India she will not repeat the same mistakes and will care for Vinuta. But back home-does Vinuta forgives Gouramma for her bad behavior all this while? Do they leave the bitter past behind and start a new life ?

I personally didn’t like the book much. It was very obvious.Very typical.Also,in the later half the book only talks about the [Indian] people’s relationships in the states.All the people that Gouramma meets in the states have had a rough patch in their relationships-this was not justified.I mean somewhere you start feeling that all the relationships in the states fail at some point in time resulting into a divorce.And these anecdotes become eye openers for Gouramma and she realise Vinuta’s worth ! The book also praises America for the freedom,organised culture,privacy,cleanliness and the works.But that’s that.

I won’t give it a MUST READ status !

My rating for this book is 2

The Book Thief

Here is a small fact: You are going to die.

These are the lines on the first page of The Book Thief; a novel by Markus Zusak set in the time of Nazi Germany. The novel is narrated from Death’s point of view. Yes, you read it right. Death tells us the story of the Book Thief. The book begins with Death introducing himself to us, following which, he introduces us to The Book Thief — Liesel Meminger.

9-year-old Liesel is given away to a foster family by her mother who can no longer care for her. On the way to the foster family, Death visits them and takes away Liesel’s brother. And it’s at her brother’s funeral that the Book Thief steals her first book. Just as a reminder of her brother. Because, you see, Liesel Meminger cannot read.

Liesel is taken into care by the Hubermanns: Hans and Rosa. Hans is a loving and caring foster-father while Rosa shows her love in her own unique way — by referring to Liesel and Hans as pigs. Death takes us through Liesel’s childhood — adjusting to the death of her brother, to the fact that her mother abandoned her, to a new family, a new life.

Liesel befriends Rudy who is the boy next door and goes to the same school. Liesel is also put in a class well below her age due to her inability to read. And it is her foster-father who assists her. He spends nights with Liesel teaching her to read the book she stole at her brother’s funeral. And slowly, Liesel loves reading. However, the Hubermanns are not exactly the richest people on the planet and Liesel decides to continue getting hold of books through the only way she knows — stealing.

Liesel’s life is intertwined with what is then happening in Germany under the rule of Hitler. Jews are being tortured. Young men are being sent to war. Innocent people are dying. And Liesel…well, she has no idea why she has to “Heil Hitler” but does so anyway because if not, she and her family will have to face the consequences. Liesel’s life is in for a twist when Hans and Rosa decide to shelter a Jewish man in their basement. Liesel makes a new friend and spends time reading to him and describing the world to him.

The book is a wonderful tale of a young girl who goes through hell but is resilient and cheerful and strives for her goals. A young girl who will do anything to attain her passion for reading. A young girl with a pure heart who cannot understand what is so bad about Jews. It is a sad book and brought tears to my eyes in the end. It is also a quirky book…after all, how many books do you know narrated by Death himself?? I would highly recommend this book if you like something meaningful that will bring tears to your eyes as well as a smile on your face. My Rating: 5

And another thing you should know:

Death will visit the Book Thief three times