On Loving Your Children #BookBytes 10

It’s time for BookBytes and I’m doing something I’ve not done before – sharing two quotes instead of one. In my defence – they share a theme, and the first one reminded me of the second.

The first is from Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which I read recently. It’s a wonderful book – just the kind I like. It talks of a family, two families actually, and the fascinating ways the characters’ lives intertwine – the way they connect and affect each other. Here’s the quote I picked.

To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all at the same time. You could see it every time you looked at her: layered in her face was the baby she’d been and the child she’d become and the adult she would grow up to be, and you saw them all simultaneously, like a 3-D image. It made your head spin. 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

There’s so much love in this quote. How beautifully it depicts what a child means to a parent! It reminded me of another quote from another one of my favourite books – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. The book will remain with me forever as a bit of heartache.

“It’s just that the thing you never understand about being a mother, until you are one, is that it is not the grown man – the galumphing, unshaven, stinking, opinionated off-spring – you see before you, with his parking tickets and unpolished shoes and complicated love life. You see all the people he has ever been all rolled up into one.
I look at him and see the baby I held in my arms, dewing besotted, unable to believe that I’d created another human being. I see the toddler, reaching for my hand, the schoolboy weeping tears of fury after being bullied  by some other child. I saw the vulnerabilities, the love, the history.” 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This is perhaps why parents find it so hard to separate themselves from their children, why they forgive them so easily, why they’re ready to face the worst odds for them. In their heads they see the baby, the toddler, the teen in a grown man/woman.

Agree?

Picture Credit: Pexels

***********

If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for July 2nd.

Advertisements

Freedom

Sofia sat crouched at the edge of the cliff, muscles tense, senses alert. A wave of vertigo threatened to drown her and she averted her gaze from the valley below. She forced herself to breathe deeply willing herself to relax, muscle by one tiny muscle.

You can do this, she said, slowly, gingerly, stretching out one leg, then the other. An intense urge to draw back to the safety of the ledge hit her again. She fought it down …. again.

She let out a shaky breath which turned into a nervous laugh at this small victory.

She forced herself to look down focusing on the brilliant shades of green. She smiled at the distant cluster of houses, far enough to mute the mundane sounds of everyday life yet offering the comfort of human presence.

With growing confidence, she stretched out her legs, threw back her head and let out a delighted whoop.

This is what she had driven miles for.
This freedom from fear.

It was a birthday ritual – a gift to herself.
And she’d do it again – another year, another fear – she’d demolish them all, one by one.

Happy birthday to me, said she, smiling softly.

***********

Do you have a birthday ritual? What’s your idea of a perfect birthday? Would love to hear about it

***********

Linking up with Mayuri and Rashi for #WoWe. Do drop by their blogs every Wednesday if you want to flex your creative muscle.

Behind Closed Doors #BookReview

Book: Behind Closed Doors
Author: BA Paris

Jack and Grace are the perfect couple. He’s a rich, good looking lawyer completely in love with Grace, while she is his perfect companion, graceful and elegant, one who throws perfect dinner parties in their perfectly beautiful home. The two are never, and I mean never ever, apart.

Grace has an autistic younger sister Millie who is due to come to live with her and Jack soon. And Jack is looking forward to it as much as Grace is, perhaps even more.

So is this couple for real? Is there a catch?

Before I begin to tell you the good and the bad let me just say that Behind Closed Doors was a complete edge-of-the-seat page turner. It kept me awake reading late into the night and then I couldn’t sleep because I was scared of the nightmares that might come to haunt me.

There really is a kind of morbid fascination in reading about someone purely evil. The blurb almost gives it away and one knows from the start that Jack and Grace aren’t as perfect as they seem. Within the first few pages we get to know that Grace is being kept prisoner by Jack who is a psychopath.

That there, was my first issue with the book – that we get to know the real Jack too early. The mystery could have been built up better if his real nature was revealed slowly over more pages. That the POV is Grace’s might have thrown up some problems but it could have been done.

I have to reiterate though, that knowing the real Jack doesn’t take away from the tension. You read on in horror wondering what he would do next, whether Grace would try to escape and what would happen when she does.

The other thing that bothered me was how Grace transformed from a terrorised wife to a perfect hostess. Is it even possible to behave normally, to interact with people, socialise with them (Jack wanted that) and not let them have a hint of what you’re going through when you’re in the grip of such absolute terror? I get that Grace had a strong motivation to fall in with Jack’s blackmail but I wondered if it was physically emotionally possible to keep the pretence going. How long can one make excuses to not go for dates with girl-friends, to not meet anyone without the husband?

Though the end was not difficult to guess the ‘how’ of it kept me intrigued. However, when it did come it seemed too easy. That’s an issue I often have with books – the build up is great but the end is a let down.

And there was one major loop hole. If you have read the book, or when you read it, I’d love to know if you figured it out.

Though the suspense in the book wasn’t great, the edge of the seat tension definitely was.

Last thought: A page turner, despite some loose ends.

Celebrating Differences #BookBytes 9

Some books come into your life at a particular time, at a time when you need to read them. When that happens the book takes on a whole new meaning, it becomes more than a story to be read and forgotten, it becomes part of you.

Hola folks. And welcome to another edition of #BookBytes. I’ve been reading The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak and the age-old Sufi wisdom in its pages has blown me away completely.

Here’s the quote I picked for today:

We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is an amount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

These lines hold special significance in the modern context when countries, societies, communities, even thought processes are getting increasingly narrower, more intolerant and rigid. It pains me, terrifies me even, somedays when I think where this could lead us. And I wish I had a magic wand that would make us all more accepting, more open to and appreciative of differences.

***********

If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for June 18th.

Top Ten Reads of the Decade #TopTenTuesday

Here’s a list of my top ten favourite reads over the past ten years – one for each year. Although I tried, really really tried to pick just one, but it proved too tough a task. And so I allowed myself to choose more than one. When it comes to books, decision making isn’t a big thing with me. These are ten, sorry twelve books that shall remain on my re-read list forever.

2010 Room by Emma Donoghue
This one was a shocking yet touching read.

2011 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This was also the year of release of Dance of Dragons by George RR Martin as also Fifty Shades of Grey – Just saying!

2012 Wonder by RJ Palacio and Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
If you haven’t read any of these two your reading life is incomplete. And if you’ve read any one, I give you my word, the other one is just as fantastic.

2013 The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.
My nephew, who’s a bit of Don Tillman (The Rosie Project protagonist) himself, tells me there’s a part two and three too and I wholly intend to get to them.

2014 Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
I struggled to pick this one weighing it against Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng but then it won for it’s fabulous mommy-bonding along with a murder mystery that kept me guessing right up to the end. The way it highlighted domestic violence and how women perceive it blew my mind.
PS: The HBO series might also have had something to do with my pick.

2015 A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertelli
Another tough decision here and I kept them both on my list because they’re so very different and so wonderful in their own space. There’s a third that I wanted to add – The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Lee Hyeon-seo. But I resisted. See, I can do it when I put my mind to it.

2016 Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
A WWII book that deserves to be read. Incidentally JK Rowling’s The Cursed Child also released this year.

2017 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor taught me that ‘Being Fine’ was never enough. Do read it, if you haven’t already.

2018 Becoming by Michelle Obama
Lots has been said/written about this one and nope, it isn’t one bit overrated. This one should be right up there on your TBR list.

2019 Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
I realised I had barely read any of the new releases this year. And so my choice was rather limited. Though not quite perfect, this remains my pick for 2019.

Which of these have you read?
Which have you loved and which do you think are overrated?
Did I leave out any of your favourites?

Editing to add a disclaimer: I realised the title may be a little misleading, hence the clarification. These aren’t necessarily the best books of the decade. They are however favourtites from among the ones I read that released that particular year. I hope I’m making sense here.

***********

Do join in this linky for book-lovers – Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. She has some super interesting book-related prompts each week. Drop by here for the rules and a list of topics for the forthcoming Tuesdays.

The prompt for this week, as you might have guessed was Favorite Books Released In the Last Ten Years thought up by Anne who blogs at Head Full of Books.

Childhood Memories of Long Summer Days #BookBytes 8

Welcome to Book Bytes. This time I’ve picked a quote from a book that’s very close to my heart, one I can’t stop recommending. It’s the kind that makes me want to catch hold of people and read out the fun bits to get them to pick it up The Garden of the Gods. This one is part of The Corfu Trilogy. I read the first book of the Trilogy My Family and Other Animals decades ago, when I was in class 11 and it continues to be a favourite.

Told from the perspective of ten-year-old Gerry, the books talk about the Durrell family that relocates to Corfu, a gorgeous Greek Island. It’s the quirkiest, funniest family ever as are the myriad other characters that inhabit the island. If you/your child is a nature freak the books are a double bonus. This is not a review so I need to stop right here and share the quote.

“In those days, living as we did in the country, without the dubious benefits of radio or television, we had to rely on such primitive forms of amusement as books, quarrelling, parties, and the laughter of our friends…”

Gerald Durrell, The Garden of the Gods

These lines remind me of my summer vacations. Each summer my sister and I would spend one whole month in our mum’s ancestral home some 45 minutes away from the city. The roads were bad to non-existent so forty five minutes, meant a whole different world. There was no electricity so television was out of question and we didn’t have a radio either, quite like the author in the quote.

When I think back I wonder how we got through those long summer days. However, necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. We made up games, sang songs together, picked nimkauris and spent time at the village temple. We came away with some of the best memories of our childhood.

It saddens me to think that that my children might never learn to do all of that.

Do you have a favourite book that evokes childhood memories? I’d love for you to share a quote and link up with me.

***********

If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. The next edition is scheduled for June 4th. Do join in.

Everything I never told you #BookReview

Book: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng

‘Lydia is dead’ says the opening line of this book. However don’t go into it thinking it to be a thriller and you’ll love it.

This is the story of…

a mixed race couple, Marilyn and James Lee, and their children Lydia, Nathan and Hannah.

Lydia is clearly the parents’ favourite. She is the focus of their lives and carries the burden of their expectations. Marilyn wants Lydia to become a doctor and sees it as the fulfilment of her own childhood dream. James on the other hand has always struggled to fit in being a child of Chinese parents. He wants Lydia to have friends, to be a ‘regular American teen’.

Nathan and Hannah get stray bits of their parent’s attention. Nath is bullied by Lee to the point where he begins to doubt himself. He is by turns resentful and sympathetic towards Lydia. Hannah remains an invisible presence longing for her parents’ as well as her siblings’ affection. She is an insightful little girl observing much more than she’s given credit for.

Then one day Lydia disappears. A few days later her body is fished out from a lake. That’s when the delicate threads that hold the family unravel, spilling out ugly secrets. Is it a murder? Is it a suicide? Does her friendship with their neighbour Jack have anything to do with it?

What I thought of it

Although a murder mystery forms the core of the narrative, the book is the story of a family, its criss crossing relationships and the desire of every child to be loved and accepted.

Each of the characters is beautifully etched with strong back stories that explain clearly why they behave the way they do. That is what makes this book exceptionally readable and relatable.

One can see where Marilyn and James are coming from, why they want what they do for Lydia. And yet one can also see its terrible consequences.

The relationship between Nath and Lydia is beautifully portrayed. Nath obviously resents her and yet the two share an unsaid understanding. He knows that the constant attention of her parents annoys and upsets Lydia and he tries to deflect it too, not always with happy results.

Everything I never told you talks about how expectations can weigh down a child no matter how honourable the intentions. It brings home the fact that parents can sometimes pressurise their children without even being aware of it. There’s the obvious coercion where they push, nag and reprimand and then there’s emotional coercion which isn’t as obvious and yet can be far more overwhelming and potent. Worse still, it leaves little room for refusal or rebellion because one isn’t being coerced overtly at all.

That’s a dangerous place to be in.

Oh I felt for Lydia. I know children like her – the ‘good girls’ who struggle to deliver at every level. But what happens if they cannot? What if they do not want what their parents want for them and can never say it for fear of breaking their parents’ hearts? So intense and palpable is the constant tension in Lydia’s life that one almost feels a sense of relief as the waters of the lake close on her.

As a mom to twins who worries constantly about dividing time and attention fairly between them the focus on Lydia seemed incongruous. That was perhaps the single jarring factor of the book. However, that’s not to say I haven’t seen it happen. It definitely does, thought perhaps it isn’t as blatant.

Last thought: A wonderful read about love and family and expectations. Definitely worth a read.

Linking up with the Write Tribe Reading Challenge – This is my review for ‘A book on crime-solving’.