Book Review, Books

Big Little Lies – Book Review

I became a fan of Liane Moriarty when I read My Husband’s Secret (read my review here). She has a gift of writing complex stories with multitude of characters and effortlessly merging all small stories in the end that makes you wonder how could you not see it coming. Her books overwhelm me in the beginning – there are too many characters, too many details about them and a lot going on. I found myself struggle with it in The Husbands Secret but later realized its okay, it’ll all fall in place as I read further. Big Little Lies overwhelmed me all the same, especially with the story going in flashback and people’s comments going in the present after the ‘incident’. It took me a while to even know what the ‘incident’ was.

With her impeccable way of story telling and her complex but well carved characters Liane Moriarty has created a fantastic suspense thriller. She keeps you guessing right from the beginning – what’s the incident everyone is referring to, who was it, was it just one or were there more, who did it and how. Within a few pages she takes the reader from the innocent, almost boring musings of Mrs Ponder to a roller coaster ride through the lives of parents of Pirriwee Public School. Within a few chapters the unsuspecting group of parents become individuals with compelling personalities. And the best part is that each passing chapter unfolds a new motive making you uncertain of who could be the victim(s).

Like her previous books, Big Little Lies is a women dominated plot. It’s the story of women who are competitive, women who are insecure about losing their teenage daughter to the ex-husband, single mothers who are struggling to find a footing in a new place, women who want to protect their children, women who are dealing with an emotional trauma, women who are going through domestic abuse but justify it one or the other, women who bitch about one another and women who support each other, women who are willing to sell their virginity for women they would never meet, women who are willing to lie under oath for women they hate, women who are willing to kill for women they are not even friends with!! Oh calamity!!! 

The book moves at a slick pace and there is a big build up to the grand finale – the school trivia night. The book consumed me with its intricate plot and crazy anticipation of what happened at the fateful night. I couldn’t put it down, even when I did the book stayed on my mind. I found myself holding my breath at some places. When I finished reading Big little Lies it felt as if I just got off an emotional roller coaster. 

Liane Moriarty has again touched upon 2 very sensitive topics in the book – bullying and domestic abuse. (She did it earlier with infertility in What Alice Forgot). It’s commendable how she could weave such serious  subjects in the story and yet keep it fun.

Like I mentioned in my earlier review, Liane Moriarty has original stories but her characters resemble each other more than they should. This was the reason I gave a long gap between What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies. I still feel the overlap between her characters in the two books but having read the previous book some time ago I don’t remember the details too well to really draw parallels. 

The book scores full marks on entertainment. It’s an intense enthralling read and I enjoyed every minute reading it. One of the best murder mysteries I have read lately! 

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Book Review, Books

Karna’s Wife – Book Review 

Mythology was never a genre I paid enough attention to until I read The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni. I was highly impressed by the book (read my review on The Palace of Illusions here) and it made me want to read more books on the subject. 

While Mahabharat is full of interesting characters, I found Karna a tad more intriguing than others. He was a good man but he supported the wrong side in the war, he was a noble person but he encouraged public shaming of Draupadi, he was the most generous soul but he craved for his birth mother’s love until the end, he was the greatest warrior but he died a pitiful death. I hoped Karna’s Wife would shed more light on his mysterious personality. The book does that but there are many things I could not digest. 

For starters, the book portrays a larger than life picture of Uruvi, who by the way is a fictional character created by the author Kavita Kane. Since she’s the main protagonist she was everywhere, she was even one of the reasons for the enemity between Karna and Arjun. I understand why the story has to revolve around her but putting a fictional new character in the centre of an epic I have heard and watched umpteen number of times made it sort of confusing.

Quite surprisingly Draupadi is mentioned everywhere in the book too. When Uruvi is having an intense conversation with Bhanumati about Karna and Duryodhan they don’t talk about Draupadi or anything that could be related to her yet the author writes about Uruvi’s feelings about Draupadi and Karna pining for each other. When Uruvi and Karna are relishing family time and talking about Karna’s sons Uruvi brings up Draupadi out of the blue. These frequent and unexpected references start feeling repetitive soon and Uruvi comes across as highly insecure wife thinking of Draupadi and Karna all the time. 

The book has glorified Karna beyond reason. Everything about him has been revered, even his role in the Vastra Haran. What Arjun did, rather didn’t do was shameful but what Karna did was no less. Uruvi’s mother and Kunti both tell her Karna is a better man than Arjun and that’s good enough to stay married to him.

I’m not convinced how someone with a heart of gold can be so spiteful that he forgot all boundaries and dignity. And he’s supposedly in love with the woman he publicly wanted naked!!! What kind of twisted love is that? How can someone glorify this disgusting emotion? How could Kunti of all people say it was OK to call Draupadi a whore because that’s what she is…. Maybe that was the mother in her talking, but I was so disgusted that I almost stopped reading the book. I was as aghast as Uruvi herself and couldn’t buy the logic that because Kunti was called a whore herself its no big deal if Draupadi was called one too.

Because of the same premise I continued to compare the book to Palace of Illusions, I know it’s not fair but I couldn’t help myself. It doesn’t even come close. The language is fine but the author has spelled out every single thing to the readers which I found very annoying, especially because it’s something we have watched, read and heard atleast a thousand times already. For example there was absolutely no need to tell the Arjun and bird’s eye story, she could have just referred to it and moved on with her tale. Similarly few scenes between Uruvi and her parents seem to have more dialogue than required. Overall there seem to be too many words in the book, and considering Uruvi is the central character more than required are written on Draupadi and Karna.

Uruvi’s confrontation with Kunti is the best part of the book. It’s harsh but spot on. Although here also the author has said the same thing in a couple of different ways making her arguments a bit repetitive. 

While the book has its flaws, the author did her research well. I learnt some new things about Mahabharat which is a huge deal given the number of times we have heard the story before. There is a tale about Shakuni’s brothers which tells why he pledged to end Kuru clan, then the story of Duryodhan’s defeat at Dwaitvana and seize by Gandharva King resulting in his fast unto death and some more. 

Despite the lengthy details there appear some gaps in the story –

“Arjuna shot another astra—the Aindrastra—at him. Karna could have invoked the invincible Brahmastra to counter it but he suddenly froze. It was as if he had lost all his ability to think! I tried to distract Arjuna so that Karna could have time to retaliate, but it was futile. It was as if no one stood between them now—it was just Karna and Arjuna.”

So what happened after the Aindrastra was shot but not countered by Karna?? How was he not hurt? 

Kavita Kone writes that Salya was impressed by Karna’s skills the day of his death and had apologized to him, if it was indeed so why did he not help when the wheels were stuck. Kavita Kone hasn’t mentioned Salya even once during the duel between Karna and Arjuna, even though Salya’s behavior that time ultimately lead to Karna’s death.

At some places the book lacked the right emotional balance. Like after the war when the Pandavas visit Vrushali and Uruvi, Uruvi starts naming the six people who deceived Karna and how. The facts she presents and the details she shares make it seem like a well rehearsed speech rather than a mourning wife telling Arjun to not feel guilty of killing his own brother. During the same visit Krishna telling Uruvi why they had to kill Karna the way they had to feels more like another way to sing Karna’s praises and lacks the right emotion given the situation. And why did they say they have come to take Uruvi and her son with them, why not Vrushali? Vrushali was their brother’s wife too!

Overall, it’s a very detailed and lengthy read which didn’t meet my expectations. I feel the book can be edited and made more crisp and enjoyable. If you do want to read it please do that before picking up The Palace of Illusions. If however you have already read The Palace, you should skip this one.

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books please join me on The Book Club .

-Aparna 

Book Review, Books

Shopaholic To The Rescue – Book Review

Shopaholic series was my first introduction to Sophie Kinsella and boy I was hooked! The first couple of books were so entertaining and addictive that I looked up her other books and over the years read them all. When my daughter was born reading took a deep dive. I was too busy being a mom that I forgot to take time out for reading.

Couple of years later I stumbled upon Shopaholic To The Stars in an in flight entertainment package and it ignited a spark. I had read every other book in the series and adored them all. Shopaholic To The Stars was not a great book but I sort of felt obligated to read it and when it ended with a cliffhanger I had to read the next part Shopaholic to the Rescue too!

Sophie Kinsella created a brilliant character of Rebecca Bloomwood. She’s silly but funny and charming, vain but generous, is extremely spendthrift but has a heart of gold. She is always getting in trouble but with a sweeping stroke of luck she’s not just able to fix everything but also ends up helping someone in a sticky situation. Her stories are shallow but fluffy and heartwarming at the same time. No wonder she was such a hit in print as well as on screen. But by the 8th book Rebecca started to feel more annoying than funny, more stupid than smart and her stroke of luck became all too predictable.

Shopaholic to the Rescue is too stretched and lacks the fun quotient of the earlier books. There were a few times while reading when I questioned myself why I’m reading this book. I do hope Sophie Kinsella doesn’t write another Shopaholic novel because if she does I will HAVE to read it and then I’ll curse myself for not reading something more worthy of my time.

Please avoid if you can. If like me you can not NOT read Sophie Kinsella then I hope you find it more fun than I did!!

I do like to emphasize that I LOVE Sophie Kinsella and would continue reading all her books, its just the Shopaholic series that I have gotten tired of.

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books please join me on The Book Club .

– A

Book Review, Books

Is Rose Gardener Harry Potter’s Literary Twin?


At least a thousand high quality fiction books hit the shelves every year. I am amazed at how authors come up with newer stories and interesting personas so often. Sometimes, however, the characters share much similarity despite the polar opposite books genres they are a part of. 

I recently finished reading the Rose Gardener Mystery Series by Denise Grover Swank and realised that Rose Gardener and Harry Potter have a lot in common. Infact Rose Gardener also shares many similarities with another character Mina Grime from the book Unenchanted by Chanda Hahn (I’ll come to this in a separate post later). Here is why Rose and Harry Potter seem like literary twins:

 

  • Both have a special gift and are termed freaks by their families for this.
  • After they break away from their usual life both undergo a major transformation from shy to bold. 
  • Both make friends as close as family who are willing to go great lengths to protect the interests of Rose and Harry respectively.
  • Coincidentally both Rose and Harry have a big adventure in each book, most times its against one mortal enemy who was also the reason behind their parents death. 
  • Both grew up without their parents. While Rose did live with her parents, she was treated like a step-child by her mother (who we get to know later wasn’t her mother after-all) and her father was mostly lost in his own world before he died when Rose was still very young. 
  • Both have unhappy and lonely childhoods. Rose did have an elder sister to offer some support whereas Harry was all alone until he turned 11.
  • Both have a pet they care about a lot.  Rose has Muffy and Harry has Hedwig.
  • It’s not always pretty for both of them. There is a really bad guy and lot of serious moments in both the books. Rose as well as Harry have their share of setbacks. There is mystery, secrets and bloodshed in both stories. Both characters don’t have their way all the time but with every adventure they emerge strong.
  • One big villain in both books has his trusted soldiers and often it’s difficult to understand who’s playing from which side. 
  • In both books years old events have a bearing on present day situation. 
  • The grand finales in both books are full of surprises, secrets, deaths, changed relationships.

Of course it is a complete coincidence but the similarities are too many to ignore 🙂

Please share your thoughts on this if you have read both the book series.

If you enjoyed this article and love reading books join me on The Book Club .

-A

Book Review, Books

Twenty Eight And A Half Wishes, Rose Gardener Series – Book Review


Shakespeare had said ‘What’s in a name’. I say – a lot, especially when it comes to a book from an author you have not heard of.

I stumbled across Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes when I was looking through free books on iTunes. I had not heard the author’s name before, there was nothing special about the cover but the name caught my attention. Needless to say I downloaded it right away.

Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes is the first book of the Rose Gardener series. Rose Gardener is a timid young girl, who lives in a sleepy little town and has been bullied by her mother all her life. With a boring job and ordinary appearance Rose has a dull life, barring only one thing – she has the gift of sight. She has visions of future and more often than not it lands her in trouble. It is the story of how her life changes when one day she sees herself dead! Having lead a sheltered life and being the prime suspect for her mother’s murder puts Rose’s life in a mess. A hot neighbor and a crazy crime lord add to the chaos. 

Why I waited until the last days of my life to feel pampered and beautiful. People tell themselves there’s plenty of time to do it all, but most of the time they never see death coming.

The book is very different from anything I have read before. It has mystery, drama, romance, comedy and decent measure of thrill towards the end. Denise Grover Swank is not a literary genius but her writing is fluent and fast paced. The story progresses with such slickness that you only look up once you reach the end. I enjoyed it so much that after reading the first book I went on to read the whole series:

Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons – Book #2

Thirty and a Half Excuses – Book #3

Falling to Pieces (Novella) – Book #3.5

Thirty-One and a Half Regrets – Book #4

Thirty-Two and a Half Complications-Book #5

Picking up the Pieces (Novella) – Book #5.5

Thirty-Three and a Half Shenanigans – Book #6

Ripple of Secrets (Novella) – Book #6.5

Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments – Book #7

Thirty-Five and a Half Conspiracies – Book #8

Thirty-Six and a Half Motives – Book #9

The 9 book series is Rose Gardener’s journey from being a nervous naive girl to a strong and brave woman. She blossoms with each adventure she undertakes and becomes more enterprising and independent than she could ever imagine. Though trouble follows her everywhere and things don’t always go as planned, Rose learns to use her gift to her advantage and is able to form lasting friendships along the way.

What’s wrong with being different? Sometimes it’s good to stand apart from everyone else.

The threats in the book are menacing and some of the people she has to deal with are hardened criminals. People are killed and harmed but the books maintain a light-hearted feel. Things do go wrong for Rose from time to time when she is beaten, betrayed, hurt and fought with, so its not all rosy rosy for the lead character. But she learns from her experiences, has a logical way to approach situations, stands up for what she feels is right, believes in second chances and will do anything to protect the people she loves – even if it means crossing over to the other side of law. 

Rose starts the journey as a lonely bashful girl and by book 9 she evolves into a confident self-assured lady. Most readers will enjoy her transformation with each book. The books also get progressively mysterious when Rose’s mother and her past life come into the picture. There are some side stories too but nothing takes attention away from Rose for too long. The author has used funny phrases such as ‘crappy doodles’ and ‘stars and garters’ throughout the book. I wonder if there are people who actually use such phrases in everyday language. Some phrases and expressions have been used repeatedly. A little more creativity with words would have made the books more amazing.

The author has been able to sketch some fantastic characters, the one that stands out most is Rose’s best friend Neely Kate. She is sassy, smart and not to be messed with. She’s the best friend you wish to have yourself. Rose’s love interests change and have complex reasons for the way they are. Her relationship with her sister Violet goes through ups and downs most women will be able to relate with. I especially liked that the author has given much depth to all characters. There is a reason why a character is the way it is and the back story helps you understand each character’s quirks and demeanor better.  Sometimes the story is realistic, sometimes it is not but it never fails to entertain. It is easy to fall in love with heart warming Rose and admire her strength. You feel a tremor yourself when she puts up a strong facade even though she’s scared to death. I also found myself holding my breath everytime Rose got into a predicament.

We can’t know everything,” I said quietly. “Sometimes we have to write our own future.

I finished reading the last book in the series yesterday and was bowled over by the way the series was wrapped up. There were a lot of secrets that were revealed, quite a few surprises and the excitement kept me on the edge throughout the second half. The author was able to get great momentum going in the last couple of books which lead to a grand climax. The built up and the finale were both very thrilling and I couldn’t put the book down. I was sad thinking its the last book in the series but much to my relief Denise Grover Swank is coming up with another series with the same characters – Family Jewels. There are still a couple of unanswered questions which I am sure will be unraveled in the new books. I can’t wait to read more about Rose, Neely Kate, Jed and Skeeter – all very interesting and endearing characters.

Do give it a try. The first book is free on iTunes anyway, but beware, it could be very addictive! 🙂

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books join me on The Book Club .

Cheers,

A

Book Review, Books

What Alice Forgot – Book Review 


After thoroughly enjoying The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, I wanted more. I got hold of What Alice Forgot which is a story of a girl with short term memory loss. I had read a book on the same theme by Sophie Kinsella couple of years ago and hadn’t liked it at all. Though I have always enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s writing, ‘Remember Me?’ is her worst work in my opinion. Having already read a similar concept I had a fair idea of what to expect, but Liane Moriarty bowled me over again.

The story begins predictably – Alice had a great fall and loses 10 years of her memory. She remembers being pregnant with her first child, crazily in love with her husband, being socially awkward and very close to her sister. However in the decade that she forgets lot of these things have changed. What Alice Forgot is a story of her constant struggle to come to terms with the life of her 39 year old self with the innocence she had when she was 29. 

Liane Moriarty writes books that are a notch deeper than your regular chick lit. In this novel also she brings up serious issues such as infertility, death and divorce without making the book heavy. When Alice is fumbling to get control over her brand new life you tend to reflect on the choices you have made in the last decade yourself.  It made me sit back and think where I was 10 years ago, what kind of person I was, what were my dreams, what were my relationships like. I reflected on how I have changed in the past decade, things that have not turned out the way I was planning for them 10 years ago, things that turned out way better, things I would do differently now if I was my 23 year old self again, and things I like or dislike about the older me.

This book makes you realize that life is a rainbow of all kinds of memories. The good, the bad, the highs and lows all make us the person we are today. Sometimes all we need is to pull ourselves out and look at a situation from a distance to be able to see more clearly. Often we get so entangled in the minuscule details that we lose track of the larger picture. Who called first, who didn’t call back, who didn’t turn up for a party or arrived late, who didn’t give the ‘right’ reaction to a news, who was not supportive enough….. The list is endless. What’s funny and sad at the same time is that most of these things don’t even matter a few days later. You forget what had really happened and only remember the major fight you had over it. Lot of times relationships turn sour and looking back you can’t even identify one justifiable thing that created the rift. Sometimes you wish if only you could start over… 

Unfortunately like Alice we don’t get that chance, but the book does make you want to be a better person. Like Liane Moriarty earlier book The Husband’s Secret, What Alice Forgot also gives you food for thought and stays with you long after you have finished reading.

I have mentioned in my earlier review that Liane Moriarty seems to be an expert in human psychology. In this book also she has successfully captured the freakingly honest thought process of Elizabeth and the candid observations of Frannie. I also liked how the author discloses details one at a time – like slowly peeling the layers away, instead of getting the characters straight and then start story telling. It is very clever way of writing and makes the book more interesting. 

I associate lots of my memories with smells and could completely relate to Alice getting flash backs when she smells something familiar. The way her memory comes back in snippets is fascinating yet believable.

There are some stark similarities to The Husband’s Secret. Alice seems to be very similar to Cecelia of THS, Frannie seems to be like Rachel and Elizabeth seems to be like Tess. Though this book has a happy end, you do feel sorry for one character the way you do in THS. Maybe that’s the disadvantage of reading books by the same author back to back.

Overall a great read. Very entertaining and compelling. Highly recommended!! (4/5)

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books please join me on The Book Club .

-A

PS: A movie is being made on the book. I would want to watch even though I know I’ll say “the book was better” 😛

Book Review, Books

To Kill A Mockingbird : My Thoughts 

Just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird. There’s nothing I can write that hasn’t been said about this book before. For those who haven’t read it yet – its a story of a quaint little town, its people and the incidents that happen over a period of 3 years. The story is slow and straightforward, narrated by 8 year old Scout. I loved her spunky tom boyish character, Atticus’s no-nonsense parenting and Jem’s big brotherly attitude.

Though the story is simple with very few characters, it feels that a lot of thought has gone into writing this tale. Lee has given much attention to detail and tried to capture the world from the eyes of a 8 year old. The language is uncomplicated and Harper Lee has deliberately used words such as ‘waked’ instead of ‘woke’ to stay true to the character of the young narrator. The world through the eyes of a child is innocent and one dimensional. They don’t read between the lines, trust in the inherent goodness in everyone, believe in fairness and don’t understand the complicated ways of the adults. This is exactly how Scout perceives the events in the book.

While I enjoyed the book I didn’t rush through it. The story progresses very slowly, almost lazily and it wasn’t something I couldn’t put down until I reached the last few chapters. Towards the end the book gets exciting – the court case and the Halloween night incidents are quite interesting and that’s where the book really had my full attention. The events on the next day of the trial didn’t just bring a tear to Atticus’s eyes but mine too. This is what I especially loved about Harper Lee’s writing style. She has created a masterpiece despite the simplistic writing. She didn’t stretch a point, or used flowery language but her words touch your heart and transport you to the dusty streets of Maycomb.

Besides creating a vivid picture of a small American town in 1930s, the book conveys some big messages in simple words. 

People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.

Most people are (nice), Scout, when you finally see them.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

These are basic truths that will stay with you for a long time. 

Its a heart warming read, with almost palpable innocence of Scout, Jem and Dill. Boo Radley’s character hasn’t been defined much but it hints at society’s lack of awareness to specially abled people in the early 19th century. 

Overall a happy book with memorable characters!

If you enjoyed this article and love reading books consider joining me on The Book Club .

-A


Book Review, Books

The Husband’s Secret – Book Review 

  

The name piqued my interest when a friend mentioned this book for the first time. When she said it haunted her for a while I knew I had to read it too.

If you like books that have intertwining stories, deep characters, a buttery smooth flow of words and a plot so interesting that you can’t

 put the book down, it is THE book for you.

I loved the complexity of characters. You know how we think we are a certain kind of person but behave completely different way when life tests us? The Husband’s Secret has a few of those instances, and their narration along with each character’s thought process is fascinating.

Liane Moriarty seems to me an expert in human psychology. Places where she’s putting a person’s thoughts in words are the best bits of the novel – the monologue that goes on in Rachel’s mind as she sits in the bath after Tupperware party, the thoughts Cecelia is thinking soon after she finished reading the letter, the array of emotions that cross Tess’s mind as she’s talking with Will towards the end are beautifully captured.

The intense indirect conversation Cecelia and Virginia share about the secret is another part that I liked.

Its not a happy book, but its not depressing either. Its an enjoyable read and ends with the message of what goes around comes around. Its a tale of a crime committed in passion, a marriage with all trust lost, a loss one can’t forget, a huge misunderstanding and a shattered hope. The epilogue was my most favorite part of the book where the author paints a picture with parallel possibilities. Its pretty intense and will make you wonder about the innumerable choices you have made to create the life you have today and maybe fantasize a little about the parallel possibilities yourself. It sort of reminded me of One by Richard Bach. 

A story line like this which has a hideous secret in the very core can’t conclude with hearts and flowers. I actually appreciate that the author has kept the plot realistic and has stayed away from creating a sugary fallacy. The book started as a regular story with myriad emotions but with a happy feel overall. Gradually it became complex and when the secret was disclosed I wondered how could something so monstrous be corrected without hurting anyone. It couldn’t. The message is subtle but rings clear – no matter how nice a person you are, you have to pay the price of causing pain to another human, in one form or the other. It is sort of frightening to see how one thing leads to another and snowballs into a giant wave which engulfs everyone when it bursts. It is also creepy the way one action triggers another and a chain reaction ensues, the end result not at all related but surely caused by the first step of the series… A process that sometimes spans decades without diluting the impact. Made me wonder how my casual actions may be starting chain reactions of their own.

  

Overall an enthralling read, if only it had a happy ending! I would rate 4/5

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books please join me on The Book Club .

-A 

Book Review, Books

Wonder – Book Review

   

When a friend recommended Wonder, first thing I asked was “Is it a happy book?” And she said “It’s sad at places but I loved reading it.”

Since I respect this friend a lot and value her opinion I picked this book, despite not having heard of it until her recommendation….. And I’m so glad I did.

Once in a while you come across a book that touches your soul and changes the way you think and behave. Wonder is exactly that kind of book. It’s a story of a 10 year old August Pullman who has rarest of rare genetic disorder which makes him look very different from others. People call him alien, freak and several other mean names. It is the story of his supportive family, his first year of going to a proper school, his journey of making friends, dealing with some enemies and facing the world bravely. It is also the story of his sister and friends and how they see him.

Yes, the story is sad at places because the world is not always a beautiful place and each one of us is shallow at some point or other, children sometimes say the meanest of things and as Mr. Tushman says in the book “sometimes you don’t have to mean to hurt someone to hurt someone”, sometimes people hurt the unfortunate Auggie without really thinking about it. Actually I shouldn’t call him unfortunate because Auggie is anything but. He’s spunky, smart, funny, courageous and unlike many of us ‘normal’ people he can laugh at himself.

Wonder is a very honest book. The emotions, feelings and incidents that the author R.J. Palacio has written about are as real as they can be. Her writing is original and insightful, its funny and light yet deep and poignant. Its simply written yet touches your heart. The love and concern Auggie’s mother has for him is so understandable, you know it can’t be any other way. His father’s understated affection and humor warms your heart. The relationship between Auggie and elder sister Via is endearing and very believable. Via’s feelings are realistic and make her human. Summer and Jack are delightful in their typical 5th grader ways. Julian is…. well, he’s realistic too.

Palacio has done a brilliant job in writing about the struggles of parents wanting to stop coddling their son, teenage friends going through the tough high school phase, middle-schoolers stuck between being popular or being nice, and August wanting to live a normal life yet knowing how difficult it is with a face like his. All characters are so beautifully etched that you feel like pulling them out of the book and giving them a hug!

My mom smiled at me. Her smile kind of hugged me.

I especially liked how Palacio has written about Auggie’s life and feelings without making you feel a tinge of pity for him. No where you feel sorry for Auggie and his family. He may have a different life than others but he certainly doesn’t drown himself in misery. 

I also liked how the author has used different narrators throughout, it helps give different perspectives. When the story began with August as narrator I could only think about him, his challenges, his feelings but when Palacio wrote from Olivia’s point of view it was like a bulb suddenly went off in my head. I was so blinded by August’s life that I would never ever have thought about how it affected Olivia had the author not brought it up. In life also we often consider only one point of view (ours) and see things in singular perspective. If only we have someone to give us unbiased opinion from time to time in real life too, we’ll save ourselves many misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

I feel everyone should read this book because the lesson at the core of Wonder – kindness, is a virtue the world can use more of. 

Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed

I loved every moment of reading the book. It made me chuckle and sometimes brought a warm smile, it made me feel a little sad and sometimes it made me angry, I felt happy so often and so often it made me cry. The end is especially good, words were blurring as I read Mr. Tushman’s speech and the account of what followed. I felt a tingle in my nose and there was a constriction in my throat but it was a happy feeling, truly heart warming. It is a Wonder-ful book, one that taught me a thing or two about parenting and life in general, a book I would talk about to a lot of people and urge them to read it, a book I would want to re-read and would want my children to read too when they are old enough.

Truly a gem. Don’t miss the little dude, he’s cool beans! 

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books please join me on The Book Club .

-A

Book Review, Books

Mrs Funnybones – Book Review 

  

As I was nursing the blues after reading a depressing psycho thriller, a friend suggested I read Mrs Funnybones to lighten my mood.

For those of you who don’t know, Mrs Funnybones is a collection of memoir-like blogs by Twinkle Khanna (yes, the very same wife-of-superstar-AkshayKumar Twinkle Khanna). The book is easy on the mind, sometimes witty and humorous at places, but it’s not the laughing-out-loud sort of funny. 

I liked how Twinkle has tried to connect with the readers by writing about the common challenges of most women in their 30s and early 40s – managing kids (one of whom is a baby), running a house, maintaining cordial relationship with the mother-in-law, working at office or running a business, school related activities, dealing with own parents, trying to lose the last few pounds and a lot more. Despite being a celebrity wife and much much more privileged than most of us she talks about the ordinary things most wives and mothers feel and experience on a daily basis making her feel one of us. I also liked how she didn’t make a big hoopla about how grand her life is and has purposely kept the glamor away. The way she has addressed Akshay Kumar as ‘Man of the House’, her son as ‘The Prodigal Son’ and daughter as ‘The Baby’ makes you feel that it’s really not about Twinkle Khanna the celebrity, but about Twinkle Khanna the woman of 21st century with her various hats.

Despite all the positives the book doesn’t really feel like a book. It’s a collection of blogs and it’s just that. All entries are independent of each other and not even in the right chronological order. While it works well for some it didn’t work well for me because I like reading stories. If I wanted to read a blog I would have picked from thousands of blogs available online and not bought this book. This lead me to question the popularity of Mrs Funnybones. Though it’s a decent light read it certainly is overrated, possibly because of Twinkle’s celebrity status or because people picked it with the hope of getting a peek into the lives of a star couple.

For those who hope for the latter it is a treat indeed. It was interesting to read about her special bond with her pre-teen son, her endearing chemistry with her super star husband and her love and hate relationship with her mother and mother-in-law. One will surely see Twinkle beyond the pathetic heroine of Mela, Joru Ka Ghulam and the likes and infact respect her as a woman of substance.

My verdict is that it’s a decent quick read but if you miss this you won’t miss much!

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books please join me on The Book Club .

– A