A perspective into the lives of Afghan women

IMG_3793A coworker loaned this book to me as she recommended that I read it. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is a novel told through alternating POVs of two women in Afghanistan which spans over five decades. Overall, it is a story of the relationships between mothers and daughters, especially their sacrifices and their fragility.

This book mostly made me mad. Honestly, chapter after chapter as the action rose I became angrier and angrier with the men and the setting of the novel as I knew that no matter what the women tried to do to improve their situation they would ultimately be faced with misfortune. However, the end of the novel provides a glimmer of hope for the characters, albeit that there was a cost to gaining that hope. I think what bothered me about the subject matter of this novel was that while the novel is fiction, it is based on a reality of how people truly live. I was more appreciative of the fact that I live in Canada where being a woman does not feel like a burden to my society.

To end, here is my favourite quote from the novel:

“She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all sighs drifted up to the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below.

As a reminder of how women like us suffer, she’d said. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.” (pg. 91)

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Ladies in the desert: Biblical novelization of the Exodus

IMG_3792Seven Days to the Sea  is a novel by Rebecca Kohn. It tells the story of the Israelite exodus through alternating POVs between Moses’ sister Miryam and his wife Tzipporah.

I picked up this book in passing at the library, I had never heard of this novel or the author (sometimes reading an unknown book is daring as you never know what you will get). I was pleased with novel and I am glad I read it.

I felt Kohn maintained the foundation of Bible’s account while adding details to provide dimension and verisimilitude to the novel. I enjoyed reading the story through the eyes of the women who were closely tied to Moses and how their relationship with each other developed throughout the novel (in-laws are tricky).The characters of Miryam and Tzipporah were well developed and the author did not fail in providing flaws in these leading ladies. I really appreciate reading about characters that are not perfect as that is what makes them seem more human; more real. The ladies of the novel were wonderful foils for each other, yet in many ways they were similar; particularly in regards to their devotion and at some times obsession with Moses.

Overall, I enjoyed this biblical novelization and I am still impressed by the realism Kohn created in the settings and in the characters of her novel.

Deja vu: Reading books again

This year one of the challenges I presented to myself was to reread at least ten books that I had only read once. I have a chronic problem with having “one night stands” with books, I mean there at least two books that I have returned to read more than twice, but on average I read a book once and that is it.

So The Cay by Theodore TaylorIMG_3788 is a book I read way back in the sixth grade. I liked reading it when I was twelve and it was probably during this time in my life that novels I read shifted to a more serious tone. The Cay is about a young boy named Philip living on the island of Curacao in 1942, in the midst of World War II. Phillip and his mother leave the island via the ship called the S.S. Hato as German submarines blow up a British tanker.

The Hato is torpedoed by Germans. Philip finds himself after the evacuation on a raft with a large West Indian black man named Timothy and a cat by the name of Stew Cat. Thus we have a story of survival on our hands (read it for yourself to know what happens).

This novel is a good introduction for children (ages 10 – 12) to begin discussions about racism, respect, and understanding. Also, the novel illustrates clearly story development.

Rereading the book in my adult life now I found Philip incredibly whiny, but I still enjoyed reading it again as I felt nostalgic.