Tag Tuesday – 10

Here’s this week’s question – a quote from John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal.”

I’m sure most of us have book(s) that fall under the first category, but what about the latter? Do you have a book that belongs to that category? Of course you don’t have to share the name of the book if you don’t want to 😉

Please leave a comment or do a post on your blog and leave behind a link for us to follow.

Thanks for stopping by to take part in our Tag Tuesday posts…we really enjoy having you around and reading your responses.

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Night

…by Elie Wiesel. (translation by Marion Wiesel)

Narrated by the author, this book takes the reader along the journey of the author’s life when he and his family members were taken from their home in the town of Sighet, Transylvania to the concentration camp in Auschwitz.

I don’t know where to begin to write about this book. I’ve read quite a few books in the past months, yet for all those I didn’t feel this urge to write a post right away. And here I am now, trying hard to gather words to describe what an impact this book has made…a story so haunting that I had to finish reading in one sitting.

I have a special place in my heart for books that tell tales set in this particular time period. I go through an outburst of different emotions after reading a piece of work from this era. And in that, this book is no exception. But the fact that this piece of work is non-fiction, that the author lived through all that horror, that he put words on these pages by leafing through his memory – makes it all the more powerful and painful.

It’s now hours after I’ve read the book…I’ve had a good night’s sleep after I read the last page, last word. Yet, I am unable to move on…I can’t seem to open another book with that eagerness to dive into a different world. Word after word of brutal truth about the worst kind of cruelty brought unending tears. My heart is still echoing the words that I read last night; my mind is still playing and replaying the gory images of torment that the author (and so many others) had to live through. When I feel so much pain only through the words that I read, I can’t even begin to imagine all that the victims of Holocaust have had to live through. WHY, is all I find myself asking over and over.

Let me leave you with some quotes from the book –

To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.

His cold eyes stared at me. At last, he said wearily: “I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.”

One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. One less reason to live.

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed.

Never shall I forget that smoke.

Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.

Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.

Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live.

Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust.

Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to life as long as God himself.

Never.

Overall, an emotionally provoking tale that must be read.

My rating: 5*.

*for the rating scale, click here.

These Things Hidden

First and foremost, please join us in welcoming Maddie as a guest reviewer at Bond with Books. Thank you, Maddie, for your contribution.

_____________________

(review by Maddie)

Title: These Things Hidden
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
ISBN13: 9780778328797
Source: Library Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis:

Allison Glenn was once Linden Fall’s golden girl in every way. She was perfect daughter, the model student, she had the good looks and good grades with aspirations of college and beyond. All that changed one night when she was sent to prison for five years for an unforgivable crime. Now, she is released on parole and wants to lead a normal life and re-establish her relationship with her younger sister, Brynn. Brynn, on the other hand, has faced the burden of what happened that night for all these years. All she wants to do is bury the past and forget Allison.

My Review:

This is a very intriguing and absorbing read. Even though Allison committed a crime, I couldn’t help but care for her. We don’t really know what she did in the beginning of the novel but we know it is heinous by the sound of it. However, her character is written so well and with so much care that you cannot help feeling sympathetic about her by the time you find out what she did.

The book is written in alternating viewpoints between the four central characters and it is a style I have come to love as it offers brilliant characterisation. All the central characters are very well drawn out and you can relate to them for their beliefs, faith, their past sufferings and the choices they make because of them.

As the story progresses, the past is revealed at the perfect moment. The suspenseful writing makes it very interesting and I was hooked from the beginning. The writing is also almost lyrical and poignant.

The book deals with a lot of realistic issues about teenage life, sibling relationships, secrets and guilt, and parenting. It also deals with the complex mother-child relationship and how different women react to it. Apart from our parents and upbringing, the choices we make affect our lives. While bad choices may ruin it, good choices might just as well take their toll.

I would highly recommend this book if you want to read about contemporary issues with a blend of suspense/mystery to it.

Family Album

…by Penelope Lively.

Set in Allersmead, an Edwardian house in England, this story revolves around the lives of the members of the family that lived in that house. Alison, the mother – who always dreamed of being a mother and nurturing her children. Charles, the father – who is emotionally unavailable, locked in his study concentrating his time on his work (writing books). Ingrid, the au pair – who lives with the family in the house lending a helping hand to raise the children. And then the children – Paul, Gina, Katie, Roger, Sandra and Clare.

Allersmead – what was once a home that nourished six children has now become a place where only the parents and the au pair live with the children visiting occasionally.

Paul, the eldest, leads a nomadic life of sorts…switching from one job to another, with not much of a personal life to show for either. Gina is a journalist, has a career with a TV news channel. Sandra starts off as a fashion correspondent with a magazine, but later in her life moves on to managing a boutique in Rome while trying her hands on property development. Katie graduates with a degree in English and moves to the US. Roger, who has always been interested in biology, becomes a pediatrician in Canada. And Clare becomes a professional dancer.

The book starts off with Gina bringing her boyfriend Philip to her childhood home. While all that Philip can say is how exotic a family with six children must have been growing up, Gina slowly points out how it is not all that interesting after all. The story goes forward with flashbacks into the childhood years through the eyes of the six children. With time, the readers are let into a dark secret that is kept in the family…a secret that everybody knows of, yet no one talks about. On the whole, the book, with episodes of past and the present, sheds light on the lives of the family members.

What I really liked about the book is the realistic undertone that it has to it. No family is perfect…yet to someone from the outside things look greener than where they stand. A big family house. So many siblings to keep one another company. A mother who dotes on her children. A writer for a father. An au pair. – that’s all the outsiders get to see, while it is the children who really know and have lived through the ups and downs of what that sort of a family life brings. The ones closely involved are the ones that know what makes up this family other than what meets the naked eye.

Also, the theme of the book focuses on how more than the experience in itself, it is what a person gets out of it / how a person reacts to it that makes for a good/bad memory. Even though the six children grew up in the same house, with the same parents, they each have had different experiences that have shaped their lives. What a child takes from any incident, how same thing happening to two people can be interpreted in two different ways is portrayed.

The book had its flaws too. For one, the deep dark secret the author talks about isn’t that much of a secret at all. I put a pin on it the first time a hint to it is mentioned in the passing. So, when the secret is actually revealed, it didn’t come as so much a shock to me. I guess in a way it didn’t bother me much that I deciphered the family secret early on because that helped with keeping up with the practical portrayal of issues rather than something over the top. Other than that, a couple of the characters were a little hard to connect with…but then I won’t complain much about it because it didn’t take away from the beauty of the book.

The language and the tone of the book couldn’t have been better. The author’s description of people, places, situations, etc. were all impeccable. It didn’t take much effort on my part as a reader to put together the visuals for the scene or characters…the writing took care of that. The author has a graceful style to her writing…I will be sure to read more books by her just for the way she writes.

Overall, this insightful study of family and relationships and a genuine portrayal of the same, is a good read.

My rating: 4*.

*for the rating scale, click here.

Black Seconds

…by Karin Fossum.

Nine year old Ida Joner goes for ride in her bicycle only not to return. Panic sets in and her mother, Helga, contacts every relative and friend of the little girl to see if anyone has seen her. As time passes by with the child nowhere to be found, call is made to the police and they start an investigation. Inspector Sejer and Inspector Skarre are assigned the case and they start with inquiring friends and family. Days pass without any clue leading to what might have happened to the girl.

What happened to Ida Joner between the time she left the house and the time she is found? Is she safe and happily reunited with the family or is she hurt? Does the police find and punish the culprit(s)? All this and more is answered in this story.

The storyline is interesting and that’s why I picked up the book. I was looking forward to reading a mystery novel after quite sometime. But from that angle, I was a bit disappointed because after getting a good grip of the story and its characters, I actually solved the crime.  That did not deter me from wanting to read further and here’s why – the characters involved had aspects of them that made me want to explore further as to how the inspectors went about solving the crime. And from that angle, I wasn’t let down a bit – the investigation, the questioning of witnesses and accused, the putting together the pieces of the puzzle – all this is sure to keep one engrossed.

Overall, this decent psychological thriller makes for a good read.

My rating: 3*.

*for the rating scale, click here.

Broken Glass Park

…by Alina Bronsky.

Narrated by seventeen year old Sascha Naiman, this book reads as her journal as she goes through life after her mother is killed. Born in Russia, Sascha now lives in Germany with her two younger siblings and a relative who is their guardian. The story beings with Sascha pointing out that she has two dreams – one is to kill her stepfather, who murdered her mother and her mother’s lover, and the other is to write a book about her mother. And from there the book goes on as a chronicle of Sascha’s life as she takes care of her siblings, goes to school, and tries to live with that grudge against her stepfather who is now in prison.

The book is a journey into a teenager’s life as she’s trying to get over a tragedy, while being there for what is left of her family. Sascha’s voice is very engaging…she lets the reader get into her mind slowly but steadily; yet, keeping herself closed to a certain extent, so as to leave the reader wanting more. She sheds light on the past every now and then, narrating all those events from the past leading up to her mother’s murder. She pours out her anger, builds a bubble around herself to keep her from getting close to anyone.

What I liked most about the book was the depth of Sascha’s character. Even after the nightmare of a past, she emerges as a strong and smart personality. And a very accurate portrayal of what goes on in her mind just adds to how easily a reader is able to relate to that character. On the other hand, the powerful beginning lead me to want an equally compelling end, but for some reason it all fell very flat after a point, and that’s where I was left disappointed.

Overall, this realistic and touching story about a teenager with a brutal past is worth a read.

My rating: 3*.

*for the rating scale, click here.

The Well and the Mine

…by Gin Phillips.

Set in the 1930s Alabama, this story is about a family – father, a mine worker; mother, a housewife; and three children – Virgie, Tess and Jack. One evening, Tess witnesses a woman throw a baby into her family’s well. At first, everyone dismisses her claims, blaming her keen imagination. Things turn around though, as they discover a baby’s body the next day. The rest of the story is woven around showing the readers how the characters’ perspectives change with regard to everything happening around them.

What caught my attention enough to want to pick up this book was the storyline. I couldn’t imagine any good reason for having a baby thrown into a well and I wanted to know more.  And I must admit that, from that angle this book didn’t do any justice. The thing to remember before reading this book is to not expect this big incident that happens in the beginning to be the main focus of the novel. The book starts off with a bang with such a big episode, but if you keep your hopes high on that one thing carrying on throughout the book and ending it with a big revelation, then you are probably in for a disappointment. While it sets the scene for the rest of the story to take place, it is just one of the threads that weave this book together – and once you understand that and realign your expectations, then you are in for a great read.

The book sheds light on the family, its members, and the struggles of the times that they live in. The story is narrated in first person by each of the five main characters’ point of views…so readers get to understand what goes on in each one of their minds with respect to all that is happening around them. The times are not easy…the book is set in Depression. Even though the family not poverty struck as some of their neighbors are, they still have to try hard to make ends meet, especially when emergency strikes and they have not much savings to rely on. The parents do their best to provide a loving home for their children even during the hardest of times. And that love is something that comes out so beautifully throughout the story.

The writing is simple and beautiful. The characters are well-developed. And the flow is well paced. The imagery the author puts forward is so vivid and powerful – that is the one thing that kept me hooked to the book and that’s what I missed once I finished reading it.

Overall, this book, driven by its characters, the time that it was set in more so than the story itself, is a poignant read.

My rating: 4*.

*for the rating scale, click here.