It Only Happens In The Movies

This phenomenal novel is by Holly Bourne and my God what an amazing experience it was to read this. Without exaggeration, this is a master piece of Holly. She wrote a very near to reality story about teenage love. She mentioned a particular notion, which is so common everywhere, by putting forth real life situations. I really loved the way she describes what happens in real life love with humor and sensitivity and the title is completely justified with the whole message she tried to give readers. So author wrote an incredible book breaking all the stereotypes and mentioned problems that are avoided in reality in a humorous way. Being a lover of romance movie, I could actually see that how incomplete picture of romance is shown in movies and actually how difficult love is. It really isn’t the matter of one kiss in the rain or snow but there’s a whole other story which we need to see and experience in love and it is not so easy as well.

This story portrayed life of an teenager Audrey who happened to give up on romance at a very young age since she has seen things like breakup, parent’s divorce, betrayal, her father cheating and moving out of the house for a pregnant girlfriend and her elder brother imposing responsibility of their crashing mother on her. She was into acting and she used to like romance genre when everything in her life was normal, when she used to think her parents’ love story is the best in the world. But then reality hit her hard. She has to see her ex in school everyday and pretend everything is normal. She gave up on drama because he and his new girlfriend were taking part in it. Tired of it all, she started a job in cinema where she found Henry. Now Henry wanted to be a film maker passionately and he was already making short films on zombies. At first Audrey shut his flirt off when everyone, including her brother and one of the colleagues, told her to keep him at a distance because he was famous to be a playboy. They became friends, Audrey started helping him in his movie and Henry was falling for her hard and still pretended to be intact.

There came a time when Henry confessed his feelings and asked her out and convinced her to give him a chance and Audrey agreed. The beginning of their relationship is cute and all and you see that’s where most of the movies end when she says YES. But with all the problems in her house she was more disturbed. Her brother kept on telling her to take more care of their mother and she was not doing enough for her. And as for Henry, it seemed like whenever she needed him the most he was not available. She even tried to clear things with his ex who was part of the zombie movie they were shooting but she became mean to her. Then her father broke her heart by demanding to sale the house they were living in and not cared for a second about Audrey and her mother. This led to the biggest drama that her mother created in the house and almost killed herself. She went to her father to talk him out of this but he clearly made a choice to take care of his new family and her stepmother, well she was a typical stepmother after all. In all these problems, Henry was of no help instead he was drunk enough to ruin the concept of love for her once and for all.

The ending of this book gives us the message that not everything ends the way we want it to be. You put yourself in Audrey’s shoes and think what would you do if something like this happens to you. Would you be able to give second chance to someone who betrayed or cheated on you or you will let them go no matter how much you love them? Holly compared beautifully and with hilarity how real life romance, relationships, friendship, betrayal, heartbreak and pain are different from what it has been shown in movies since always. Once in a while, touching the ground of reality is eye-opening and wise. So this novel is having all feminist vibes and true-to-life message with exactly the bits we don’t see in the movies. This YA book is very good for young adults because life is a whole lot different from what we see in movies and what we expect from love. It really only happens in the movies πŸ˜‰

My favorite quote from this book was “That was the moment a piece of my heart broke off and got thrown into his, where it would lodge forever. Because you always leave a little piece of your heart in whoever you fall in love with.” ❀
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A Mirrored Life

This master piece is by a Bengali writer Rabisankar Bal. I found his writing style quite different from others in the way he describes stories from the past. At first it is difficult to understand the concept of book but once you get it, you will be amazed by the beauty of it. This book has a story within a story, within a story and all in a very charismatic way of writing. Story is about the life of Rumi and his love for Shams who made Rumi what he is to us now. A very well researched novel and well written, and definitely not leaves readers to bore. In fact, the stories are quite interesting to read especially if someone is interested in the poetry of Rumi and his message of spiritualty. So this is a very through and poetic novel. The main theme of this book is selfless love and union with the ultimate beloved God. You become so touched and mystified while reading this.

The story started when Ibn Battuta was sharing his travel stories to the readers and yes he is the one to narrate the whole stories in this novel. When he was on his way from Tangiers to China, he reached a place called Konya in Turkey where this legendary dervish Rumi was born and lived. This was also the place where the famous “whirling dance” was originated. While Ibn Battuta stayed there, he came to know about different stories about the life of Rumi and his spiritual guide Shams and he was very intrigued to know after a half a century of Rumi’s death why he has such a huge number of people respecting his life and why his poetry is still evergreen. He explored the city more and met a person call Al Mustasimi who was working on the manuscript of Rumi. While he worked on one of the copies of manuscript, he enlightened about Rumi’s life to Ibn Battuta and promised to give the copy to spread it wherever he goes. Then comes the life story of Maulana Rumi and of course his story is incomplete without Shamsuddin Tabrizi (Shams). Shams was considered as a lunatic or mad divine soul at that time since a person not known to spirituality would not understand him. But Rumi knew he was destined to meet Shams and then we explore their relationship and Rumi’s journey from being a Maulana to a whirling dervish.

Rumi and Shams were quite the talk of town in their times because of their platonic relationship and Shams taught him not to be bothered by what people say about him. When Shams left, Rumi felt a void in his life which seemed to be growing bigger with time but the distress was over when they reunited. This made Rumi whirl with rapture and was the most astonishing part of story. Shams proved to be his spiritual mentor, a friend and lover. He taught him that this life is our separation with our love, God and death will unite us to Him. Then the stories of Rumi’s famous disciples Hussam and Sultan Wahad and their terms with Rumi are shared in the novel. Then it explained how Shams groomed Rumi, how the Masnavi, Rumi’s greatest work, came into existence. Battuta also met a young man whose name was one of the 99 names of Allah and he was not aware of that and Battuta asked him to recite Namaz in a middle voice for him. Then he tells the man that the middle path is the one best to adopt in life and is loved by God.

So before digging into Rumi’s poetry, one should read this book as it is a very well researched version of his life along with other books like “The Forty Rules of Love” or “Rumi’s daughter”. Writer used a very bold description of the relationship between Rumi and Shams and made sure you live the era and experience it with your full imagination. He encapsulate layers and layers of knowledge about spirituality narrated by Rumi or Ibn Battuta himself. It is one of those books which will force you to read between the lines and try to find hidden meaning in each story. This novel demands patience to read it but once completed, it’ll be worth it. I would recommend everyone to read it, the messages in it are for everyone to lead a meaningful life.

My favorite quote from this book was “The day our childhood leaves us is the day we will die.
Let me know yours ❀

If I Stay

This really heart touching book is by Gayle Forman. It was my first book of her and as always, my only regret was I saw the movie way before I read this book but as much as I hate to say this, movie seemed better than reading this book. In this book Gayle used a very non-formulaic approach of story telling and created believable characters. A quite moving and thought provoking story which includes life choices like reality. Author captured struggles of a teenager with family loss and personal conflicts and you feel like she compacted deep emotions on each page. The strong passion of her character is really admirable. Though the heaviness of premise, Gayle still provided a pinch of humor in this story. A very sad young adult romance novel that will leave readers awestruck but you feel connected to the story throughout the book.

Story began with a car accident. YES! you are not familiar with characters yet and they are dead. Anyway, it’s a story of a 17 years old Mia who is a passionate cellist and a music enthusiast. One day she along with her parents and baby brother went for a morning drive and they met an accident in which both her parents died and she was in come. This was her ghost or you can say her spirit telling her story throughout and it’s an out of body experience that she was sharing. At first she did not understand what is happening, is she alive or dead just like her parents, then she ran to see her brother and found him in a very critical situation. She saw her relatives gathering and heard them talking but she could not speak to them or they can’t see her. Then she witnessed her best friend and her boyfriend trying to get to her and she runs after them. At first everything seems to be in vein but soon she realizes that her body is alive and struggling between life and death. She got the news of his brother being dead too when her grandparents were talking.

During her stay in hospital she had flashbacks of her past and she was thinking about her future life choices. She had two options, whether to live without family with her grandparents and boyfriend Adam or to simply die and end her physical and mental suffering. Her love for music played a vital role in her choice to stay alive but the loss she had just seen was heavier than anything one could imagine. All of a sudden your whole family is dead, which is pretty tragic for a character who is very caring, loving and sensitive about family. The story becomes moving when Adam her boyfriend, sat next to her body and was begging her to stay and on whichever terms possible made my heart melt for the two of them. Other than him, everyone was tied to that one string of hope that Mia stays alive and they would do their best to take care of her and beautiful thing was Mia was listening to them as well. In between the war of heart and brain, she made up her mind once and for all.

This book will make readers think about everything we take for granted in our lives and how important they become when we are on the verge of losing them . It gives message to the parents that they should at least be open to their kids and talk about all the things that are considered taboo. Kids are parents’ responsibility and parents should talk about adult stuff to kids beforehand and before they get to know or get involved in something which turns out to be dangerous for them. On the critical side, this book becomes boring to read at some points because it’s continuously sad. There is a little bit of humor there when Mia’s parents are involved but all those happy memories eventually become sad since her parents were gone. In the start you feel difficult to connect with characters. The element of romance was barely there as it should be in a young adult romance but over all it was okayish.

My favorite quote from this book was “And that’s just it, isn’t it? That’s how we manage to survive the loss. Because love, it never dies, it never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it.” ❀
Let me know yours πŸ™‚

When Breath Becomes Air

This autobiography is by Paul Kalanithi. Usually I don’t read autobiographies but this one was too much hyped and after reading it I got to know why. The writing style of author is quite neat, reflective, meditative and well structured which is a very remarkable quality of a writer. A very powerful and gasping book that makes you question about our morality and the quality of life that we are living and how well we are performing as a part of society. If someone wonders about interwoven connection between life through literature, philosophy and mechanism of brain, you must read this. I am pretty sure when you will finish this book and put it aside, you will have a lot of food for thought because in simple terms this book tells us that live a good enough to be remembered after death. No wonder why it was the bestseller for almost 51 weeks and even Bill Gates read and reviewed it.

This book encapsulate a complete life journey of a man (Paul himself) who died at a very young age of 38. You see this makes this book more engaging because writer has already died nearly when he finished the book. It really gets emotional at some points specially end but it gives us meaningful lessons too and one of them is how to embrace death. Paul started his studies as a literature graduate but he was keen to get the answer of this very old question of “what makes human life meaningful” so he started studying human biology along with literature to find answers. When all this failed to give him a satisfactory answer he decided to become a surgeon and get to know patients deeply to understand their suffering and pain, what impacts life long diseases leave on humans, how death scares away the life and take out how human life matters and how can you make it matter. He chose this way of this connotation because life’s true worth is only understood by a patient who has so less of it left. Not only Paul’s skills and intelligence but also his empathy made him an exceptional doctor. He always made himself available for his patients even after a long hectic day.

When his career was at peak, at the age of 36 he was diagnosed with stage IV lungs cancer. When he came to know about his life coming to end he started looking back at his choices and also what he will leave to his family after death. His wife was very supportive throughout his life journey and they were blessed with a baby girl. He came to a conclusion that suffering and striving are the main components of human existence. One cannot control the timing of death but we can at least control the way of living while we are alive. This book will leave you in tears when you come to know writer died by the end of book but it gives us much more to reflect as well. It sheds light on patient-doctor relationship that must be taught in every medical school. A doctor’s duty is not just to physically treat the disease but also provide mentally will power to fight with the disease. There is also spiritual discussion on concept of science and its shortcomings to give meaning to love, hope and God.

A huge part of this book is about how Paul treated his patients as neurosurgeon which becomes boring at some time (not criticizing the deceased author, just the part of book). People from medical field must read this book and it will be their spiritual guide. We all should keep in mind that God doesn’t expects us to be perfect with just a snap of fingers, rather He wants us to be striving for perfection, He wants us to be consistent in our struggles for a better life. Again, the span of life is not in any human’s hand but peculiarity can be πŸ™‚

My favorite quote from this book was “Even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living” πŸ™‚
Let me know yours ❀

Bittersweet

This contemporary romance novel is by Sarah Ockler. It seems like another book about cooking but trust me it has much more to offer. It’s my first book of Sarah and I absolutely loved it because of her narrative style and simple characters and a moving story. Author’s illustrations about everything from a simple snowfall to a cupcake icing was indeed very majestic. Although the story revolves around the life of a girl Hudson but every single detail about her issues with her career, family, friends and relationship is perfectly put into a story. There comes a point while reading you feel heartbroken yourself but you get put back slowly when it progresses to end. The cutest thing about this book is every chapter starts with the name of a very interesting cupcake concoction and has a little detail about it as well that will make you crave for that cupcake.

So the story was about Hudson, a 17 years old girl who was struggling through her life at a very young age with so many things at once with the dream of becoming a renown figure skater. There was a time when she thought her life was all sorted and at ease but when her father moved away the whole image in her mind was upside down. She was asked by her mother to help her run the bakery, continue the school and babysit her 8 years old younger brother all at once. She was expert in cupcakes with a lot of mix-up recipes and surprisingly they always turned out mouthwatering but she was living a life that she didn’t want and she didn’t think of second chances as an option as well. She was torn between two halves, one ached for her mother’s suffering and wanted to give her life she never had and the second half was worried about her own future, her goals, her wishes and passion for skating that she could not seem to pursue. These things make her character both terrified and hopeful. She was dealing with her mother’s taunt, her best friend’s betrayal and skating practices with demanding school work but her little brother was really adorable and supportive of her.

Things take a turn when Hudson got to know about a huge scholarship for local skater and she found the hidden spark in her. She finally saw her ticket to her future life as she wanted. During her plans to escape she ran into a guy called Josh who made a deal with her that she would help not only him but whole school hockey team to get their skills upgraded and in return she will get the ring to practice. During this deal they fell in love with each other but there is a love triangle too in this book. When things get more hectic at work and she found less time for her practices, she started thinking is it all worth the efforts she was putting in and what if she fails despite these attempts. There comes a point when she was left to decide one thing among a huge cupcake order, championship hockey game, diner inspection and ice skating scholarship competition, as to which side her heart is inclined the most. At first Hudson’s character isn’t much likable as it appears that she is very self absorbed but when you continue to read and get to know about her life you understand her pretty well with all the lively conversations of characters.

Good thing about this novel is that it can be categorized as cute cupcake romance theme novel or sports or a small town story and the depth about everything with the touch of humor is what makes this book an interesting read. The main ingredients of this book, family, heartbreak, triumph, romance, humor and betrayal, are what we can all relate to our lives as well. Parents should not be too hard on their children as to suppress their dreams and hopes. Their relationship with spouse should not effect their child so much that the kid forgets how is it like to be young and carefree for once. Also no matter which age group you belong, do not self punish yourself up to a level to let go of what you love, it’s not something favorable for human nature πŸ™‚

My favorite quote from this book was “But once in a while, you pick the right thing, the exact best thing. Every day, the moment you open your eyes and pull off your blankets, that’s what you hope for. The sunshine on your face, warm enough to make you heart sing. ” ❀
Let me know yours πŸ™‚

The Flame Must Burn

This very realistic novel is by Beena Khan, a very young author from Pakistan based in New York. Being a Pakistani it made me so happy that another fellow is making her name in the world of authors with such a great writing style and stories. I haven’t read her debut novel yet but I have seen great reviews on that and it’s in my TBR already. While reading “The Flame Must Burn” I was feeling so many emotions all at once. It has cute young romance, a pragmatic story, a lesson for parents or in fact for everyone. Author used very plain and understandable words to narrate the story and the use of Arabic, Urdu and Persian words for love made this book more appealing. Although the cover of book gives the image of a very steamy romantic novel but it is not even close to that. The characters of Cyrah and Ryder try to follow a traditional way to lead their love into a marriage and struggle for it. As the story progresses you come to know about daily life problems of a girl who belongs to Iran, how she tries to stay positive in all this and how she pursues Ryder’s love.

Novel starts when Cyrah, a very shy girl of age 19 from Iran went to a summer scholarship program to Canada. She was one of those girls from Asia who prefer to study and have a career instead of marriage. She convinced her father with such difficulty to let her go out of the country for this program on a deal that when she will be back, she would have to get married instantly. Cyrah was already in a cultural shock in Canada and whenever she was about to do something like putting on makeup or going out she was reminded of her father’s advices on how to be a good girl and how good girls behave even away from their country. She wanted to be free of all these chains which bound her to her cultural hidebound norms. Although she was frustrated of this all but still found it difficult to free herself. Ryder saw her on the beach and was dumbfounded by her beauty. Later they were both were found in the same class and both kinda giggled inside on this coincidence. At first she avoided him but later found out he was a Muslim too and his roots were from Pakistan. This was a sigh of relief for her but still she was not much comfortable around him in the start.

Ryder was in love with Cyrah at first sight and he was determined to look out for her since she was new in the town and already seemed scared. Even once he tried to save her from a life threatening incident which made Cyrah trust him more. With time passed they both confessed to each other but decided they won’t be dating instead they will be having a courtship which was a cute thing ❀ Ryder took her to his favorite places and told her about his future plans. Slowly and exponentially the flame in both hearts was burning and they both were not ready to give up on each other when Cyrah told him what has her father pre-decided for her and it’s nearly impossible for her to have a love marriage. Neither they wanted to lose each other nor wanted to disrespect their parents. So Ryder made a plan to save Cyrah from a forced marriage and win her father’s heart but there were some unfavorable circumstances for both of them.

In this book Beena highlighted a social issue of love marriage and how it is perceived in Asian Muslim countries not only for women but for men as well. Also she brought out the problems of conservative families, forced marriages, child marriages, women assigned a “duty” to bear children, less opportunities for women to flourish and how in the name of honor their dreams are crushed. But on the bright side, she has mentioned that not every man of the house is so much stern as to not let his daughters breathe freely. Some are just bound to their cultural norms and do not want to go in the opposite direction as it will bring disgrace to their family. It’s not their fault they are raised like this but when these men take stand for their daughters or any woman of the house, there is nothing that can stop them. Parents at least should be rational about their children’s wishes related to life long decisions. I would definitely recommend you all to give it a read and appreciate Beena for her efforts to show us both sides of a picture.

My favorite quote from this book was “When I look into your eyes, your eyes are as pure as the ocean water.” Then, he continued, β€œI don’t call you Blue Eyes just because of your eye color. Your eyes are the blue of a sweet dream…You’re the blue of the sky.” ❀
Let me know yours πŸ™‚

The Restaurant of Love Regained

This book about food romance is written by Ito Ogawa, a Japanese writer whose book “Shokudō Katatsumuri” was translated in English as The Restaurant of Love Regained. This book explains life of a girl who went through a heartbreak and loss of each belonging on the very first page of the book and rest of the story is about her regaining strength and excelling in life with motivation and skills she has. It is like a romance cook-book and describes perfectly how and why each ingredient is important in a dish. Ito used very simple words to make a whole story and yet the element of delicacy is still there. This book is a story of a restaurant run by a girl that provides sheer love and magic in its food. Author is of the view that you cannot change your past but what is going to happen in future is still somehow in your hands. With the use of a bit fiction this story becomes amazingly delicious for readers πŸ˜‰

Story revolves around a girl Rinko who not only lost her Indian boyfriend but he took everything from their house as well and the whole house was cleanly swept when Rinko returns home one day from work. There is only one thing left in one of the cabinets that is her grandmother’s jar which she used to adore and took care of it for so long. Devastated and shocked, she felt that she has lost her voice forever and will be able to talk to anyone ever. She did not have anywhere to go as well so she took a ticket to her hometown and sat on a bus. When she returned to the village, she realized there wasn’t much that has changed over ten years and she felt nostalgic too entering into homeland. Her relations with her mother were already very disturbing and when she couldn’t speak out what made her return home, her mother was more frustrated with her. Rinko decided she will use all her kitchen skills from her past jobs to open a restaurant in the back yard of her mother’s house. Her mother let her do this and in return asked her to take care of her pet pig. She gave it a thorough thought about what her restaurant will be like, how is she going to make food, how she will collect ingredients and how she is going to get customers know about her. During this time she met a childhood friend Kuma who, upon knowing what she is up to, decided to help her throughout.

Rinko decided to name her restaurant as “The Snail” and she would serve only one person or a couple or a family per day. She will ask the customer beforehand about what type of food they would like to eat and how much they can afford to pay and will decide the menu accordingly and get fresh ingredients for every customer. This decision added magic in her dishes and she was known to have magical powers in her food after 3-4 customers. For example whenever someone wanted to implant the seed of love in someone’s heart, they would take him/her to Rinko’s restaurant and it worked too. Then she came to know about her birth from her mother and connected all the dots about why she and her mother never had perfect relationship ever. But the interesting thing in this novel is Rinko isn’t speaking a word to anyone and yet she is spreading love everywhere. Later her mother also established fair relation with her too. There is a huge part about slaughtering a pig and using each part of it in a dish including blood so that can make you nauseous like me so I just skipped that part. The ending becomes heart touching with Rinko’s mother letter in which she poured all her emotions for her and asked her to start speaking again too.

This book gives us a huge lesson that everyone can be special in their own ways and one doesn’t have to be typical or following the trend. Without Rink’s verbal communication, her feeling are expressed with so much detail and how she spread positive vibes in her village. Ito also put emphasis on the ingredients of dishes whether plants or animals and that almost makes you smell the food while reading. Story tells us that you can get back to life after a huge fall in such glorious ways. Although this books is not something very extraordinary read but it is interesting and a comfort read so I would really recommend this one.

My favorite quote from this book is “I wish I could recall more about that special day. But I’m afraid that if I did, I might crumble. Things like this, the most precious things in the world, I keep them all safely locked away in my chest where nobody can ever touch them. Where the sun can never fade them. Where the wind and rain can never harm them” ❀
Let me know yours πŸ™‚

P.S, I Love You

This is the debut novel of Cecelia Ahern who was 21 years old when she wrote this book. Although she was very young but the way she pictured love between two characters, how the grief of losing someone looks like and how devastating it is to see your loved ones die. Cecelia made sure this novel is easy to read and absorb every happening for the readers with complete emotions. Once you start reading, you will find out how artistically this has been written and I am sure it will fill your eyes and warms your heart too just like happened to me. It tells you that life does not stop after losing your love, it changes most definitely but it totally depends on the person going through sadness how he/she wants to recover from it. This book will tell you in the most emotional way how it is to lose the love of your life and how to regain strength after it. We are all emotionally dependent on one another and this novel tells us that comfort can come from the same person who causes the heartache.

The story revolves around two characters Holly and Gerry. A very typical cute start of the novel with two kids who were neighbors and friends since forever and later developed affection for each other. They both got married and like every normal couple they faced good days and bad days. They fought and adored each other side by side but most importantly fell for each other more and more with every passing day. The young couple went through a major disaster of their lives when Gerry was diagnosed with brain tumor and he died at a very young age. Holy who only had Gerry in her life throughout was set back from his sudden death. She faced days where she couldn’t get up to eat or bath or do routine chores because she never experienced loneliness in her life. Gerry was her love, her best friend and had been her partner in every phase of life so her suffering was natural. Meanwhile she was fed up of the society who kept telling her to get back up and face life again like a normal person. She felt as if after losing Gerry, her right to shed tears was gone too by the standards of her close ones. She obviously was not ready to face life yet and needed a push which people around her could not provide.

On Holy’s 30th birthday, she got a call from her mother telling her that she has a package named for her and she should get it ASAP. When Holy opened the package she was stunned to see Gerry’s letters to her for each month after his death. Quickly she opened the first letter of the month and was relieved to hear from him as if that was the only thing she needed. What Gerry did in those letters was played a happy little game with Holy to show her that he is looking down at her from heaven. His letters showed that he kinda knew she would be in such a condition so he helped her motivate through that phase of life. Every month she opened a letter and was filled with encouragement to move on with her life. Everyone is in need of a guardian angel and how beautiful it would be that the person you just lost becomes one for you and help you. Gerry knew he would not survive from this disease and he knew people he was leaving behind will be having a hard time but at the same time he did not want them all to be unhappy forever specially Holy. So he taught her the lesson that after you go through the heartbreak it is necessary to get back up not only for others but for yourself first. He made sure that she would walk on the sunny side of the road always and feel life once again even he was no more physically around.

So readers this is a novel about how to let go of what you have been holding on for a very long time. This shows that no matter what you do, you have to accept what has happened, you have every right to be in affliction but once you cope with the dilemma you have to emerge as a stronger person than ever. This novel has a little amateur and unrealistic approach of healing after a disastrous heartbreak like it’s not time specified that you will be back to normal after 10 months or 6 months but the beauty of the words covers all the flaws. A kind of warning for emotional reader that it will make you miss Gerry throughout the novel as if he was your husband and love of life πŸ˜€ But on the other side this will make you appreciate your loved ones more after completing it. And one last thing, anyone who wishes to watch the movie, DON’T, Read book first.

My favorite quote from this novel was “You don’t marry someone you can live with, you marry the person you cannot live without” ❀
Let me know yours πŸ™‚

A Thousand Splendid Suns

This startling novel is Khaled Hosseni’s piece of art who is famous for his profound writing style. He got fame right after his first novel “The Kite Runner” but let me tell my readers that A Thousand Splendid Suns is his best book out there and I can say this because I have read all three of his novels. This book is very emotional, sad, infuriating and uplifting and leaves you in tears. Even I saw non-habitual readers love this book no matter males or females. Khaled has the tendency of making a story readable which is full of unbearable violence, misery and domestic abuse and his instinctive story telling skills take over the whole book. This novel has a very stimulating plot, which focuses more on mothers and daughters and friendship between oppressed women of a society mainly of Afghanistan. His characters seem more realistic mainly because we have been hearing news since childhood about these regions ruled by Taliban community. So author brings home a portrait of what life is for women who are considered just a child producing machines in a society, a society of men ruled by men and sadly for men only.

Outside the land of Herat, there was a girl named Mariam who lived with her mother Nana in a village. Her father was a businessman and lived in the city with his other wives and children. Since Mariam was a result of an illegitimate affair of Jalil and Nana so she was deprived of every kind of fatherly love and just to show his presence he visited once a week. On Mariam’s 15th birthday she asked his father to take her to one of his cinemas for a movie but he didn’t show up. Angry teenager ran away from house to his father’s place to ask him for her rights but his servants didn’t let her in and when next day she met him, he sent her back to her mother. Nana, thought she has been deserted once again by Mariam and she will not return just like her father, committed suicide. Mariam, alone and heartbroken, was taken to her father’s place. Her stepmothers couldn’t put up with her considering her a bastard, arranged her marriage with a shoemaker from Kabul. Mariam against her will was married to a 30 years older man Rasheed and sent to Kabul. At first he treated her with immense care but after her miscarriages their relationship became venomous and destructive just because she could not give him a son. Yes that’s the sad reality of such societies and she became a victim of domestic abuse.

In the neighboring house of Mariam, a young girl lived called Laila. She and her father is my favorite character btw. Her father was a liberal and kindhearted teacher who focused on Laila’s education more than her burqa but he was worried about his depressed wife who has isolated herself after the death of their two sons in war. Laila had a friend named Tariq, living in the neighborhood since forever but later on their friendship turned into love affair though people used to frown at them. When the war started both of their families planned to move to Pakistan as refugees but luck was not in favor of Laila. A drone attacked her house killing her parents and hurting her brutally. She was sent to her neighbor Mariam and Rasheed’s place to be taken care of. When she recovered she got to know some horrific news, Tariq and his family was killed on their way and she was Rasheed’s ray of hope for son/s. Though Mariam opposed the idea of Rasheed marrying Laila but when has a man living in this type of society ever listened to his wife. After their marriage, Mariam considered Laila her rival but when she gave birth to a girl her behavior was rendered towards both girls. Rasheed could not stand this friendship and separated Laila and Mariam in different rooms depriving them of basic needs. He lost his job, was barely meeting ends, blessed with a boy, decided to send his daughter to an orphanage where Laila was forbidden to visit. The novel takes a turn when Laila is united with the love of her life and how they progressed their lives leaves us in awe. Here we cannot abandon the fact how Mariam gave endless unreciprocated sacrifices for another woman to make her life heaven in this world.

So bookworms this is a story of strength and beauty combine buried under the surface of cruel life imposed on Afghani women. The effects of war on characters makes it look like a real life story. My personal and very optimistic thoughts say that this book shows us that in all this cruelty, there is still ultimate goodness in some people who have been witnessing the same society throughout their lives. A story of heroism and self sacrifice that comes with love makes it an inspirational novel for all the readers. You will see that despite the extremists and unreasonable values of some, most of the Afghani people are no different than you and me. Lastly a warning for my emotional family, this book will swallow you whole and will spit you out in pieces :’)

My favorite quote from this novel is “She had this laugh. I swear it’s why I married her, Laila, for that laugh! It bulldozed you. You stood no chance against it.
Let me know yours ❀

The Forever Girl

This was my very first book of Alexander McCall Smith who is famous for writing his super hit series of Ladies Detective Agency but I am very happy to read this heartbreaking love story as my first novel of AMS. His writing has depth in words and he explained philosophy of love and relationships that we face in our daily life. And so it looks like written from a personal experience. This books is totally based on hope that one day love will find its way, that love which seems enduring but is out of reach. Sad Ikr ! It takes huge patience to wait for this kind of love and I know when it happens, it looks like the whole world has shrank around one person and everything else is just bleary. In this story it’s not just the two characters who are falling for each other but the problems their parents face in love are there too. So you an say it’s about falling in and out of love both.

Story starts on the Cayman Islands where two families were very close to each other because of their six years old kids Clover and James. They both were best friends and always playing together without any third kid. Clover’s mother, Amanda felt deprived of love because her husband David apparently never cared for anything else other than money. This made Amanda fell out of love with him and she tried to divert her attention from this sad reality. Then she met James’ father and they started to get close to each other but soon they realized it’s not meant to be before anything serious started. James’ mother suspected this and asked him to stay away from Clover because they are not good people. He made other friends and slowly started avoiding Clover and intentionally ignoring her and refusing to play with her after school. Clover who has been showed a very bold girl since childhood was shattered to see this all happening and meanwhile she has realized she is head over heels in love with James. We followed her suffering from Cayman to Scotland, to Australia and to Singapore when kids are separated for their studies. But Clover stuck to the feelings for James and even though she was very pretty and attractive and guys approached her as well, nobody she met lived up to his image in her mind and hence she tried to stay away from everyone.

On the other side, James was portrayed as the carefree teen who did not cared for Clover at all. I know he was doing what his mother asked him to do but parents should keep this thing in mind that misunderstandings of parents should not create voids between kids. It can lead to a heartbreak. After moving away from Cayman, he made a few girlfriends and even boasted off to Clover and for what? to make her feel jealous or to see her reaction? Lame! Throughout the book James seemed to be playing with Clover’s feeling by calling her sister and Clover on the other hand was happy being played with. Then there were her friends who asked her to confess in front of James but she had insecurities that stopped her from telling him. Even Amanda asked her if she can’t confess then let him go but she was stubborn as always and thought her mother didn’t understand her. Meanwhile after years of being separated Amanda and David gave their marriage another chance because they could not lived apart anymore and they both agreed to it. Well this was the only happy plot twist in this book. Therefore, this book talks about hard realities of love.

This is a very reflective novel which is more about feelings and relationships and not much of a drama in it. There is no big shocking plot twist either and it is specially for those who like love stories told slowly. On my personal opinion, do not hold onto someone for so long, either tell them or let yourself be free. Not everyday romance is like books to end up with your love of life who you have meet in early childhood. Alexander showed the gritty side of real life love and what’s more interesting is he used a bit of humor even in this sad love story. Well people no matter what, this book is close to my heart for some personal reasons and one of you know why ❀

My favorite quote from this book is ” ‘People believe that love lasts forever. Or theirs will. That’s why they believe’. She glanced at her daughter. ‘I think that you’ve been… well, just amazingly lucky. The two of you. Sometimes you find that. People meet one another when they’re very young and they stay together for their whole lives, which is as close as we get to forever’.” ❀
Let me know yours (:

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