Review: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

I haven’t written anything in quite a while, which is quite sad. Unfortunately, I’m in a bit of a book slump with so much homework but I finished reading Dragonfly in Amber, the second book of the Outlander series, and I’m still reading Atonement. So the buddy read didn’t go quite as well as Mariel and I planned it out to but here is the review, a month or so late.

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My friends and I saw this book at the LA Times Book Awards Ceremony and Festival and the author as well, and we were all in love with Nao by the first page and wanted to buy the book.

Here’s Mariel’s take on the first 10 chapters:

http://booksthefinalfrontier.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/a-tale-for-the-time-being-chapters-1-10/

And her review:

http://booksthefinalfrontier.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/a-tale-for-the-time-being-wrap-up/

Blurb:

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
Review:

This book was whimsical, fascinating, and really deep and insightful. Ozeki explored so many themes that sent me in a philosophical tizzy (but in a good way.)  I think it’s the kind of book I’ll be reading over and over again, still discovering new parts of it and provoking super deep contemplation about everything. The pacing was perfect, the characters were moving and quite relatable to, and Japanese setting was captivating. The book trailer did not do it justice.

I loved Nao’s perspective. The writing style is humorous and quirky, sometimes a little blunt in a way that made me raise my eyebrows. But Nao is a teenager, still curious about the world. The descriptions of the Japanese monastery/temple and her urban environment were really enjoyable, since I’ve never been to Japan. Nao’s experiences in bullying were also pretty surprising and eye-opening because stereotypically, Japanese people are very well-known for their politeness and courtesy. However, she is subjected to awful, demeaning jokes by her fellow classmates. Her grandmother is a anarchist/feminist/buddhist nun. She definitely goes on the list for Best Grandmas in Books. The BGB, it has a nice ring to it. In some ways I could relate to her, like her perspective of the world and her experiences of being bullied but in other ways, like some of her darker experiences, I couldn’t imagine a girl her age going through.

Some of my favorite quotes from her are:

“It made me sad when I caught myself pretending that everybody out there in cyberspace cared about what I thought, when really nobody gives a shit. And when I multiplied that sad feeling by all the millions of people in their lonely little rooms, furiously writing and posting to their lonely little pages that nobody has time to read because they’re all so busy writing and posting, it kind of broke my heart.”

I can relate so much that it hurts.

“But don’t worry about it. You need to be a little bit crazy. Crazy is the price you pay for having an imagination. It’s your superpower. Tapping into the dream. It’s a good thing not a bad thing.”

Haruki!!!!!! Yay for the beautiful magic realism and exploring the themes of blurring the lines between dreams and reality. And superpowers, ’cause they’re pretty cool and inspiring.

Ruth perspective was also pretty interesting. It’s fascinating because this sounded a little autobiographical since in the book Ruth’s husband is named Oliver and the author is named Ruth and has a husband named Oliver. Another part of her perspective that was unique was that she was reacting to and experiencing Nao’s diary while I was as well, so I could read her thoughts on it while formulating my own. And I could react to her reactions which is so much inception and mind-bogglingness that I can’t handle. Her perspective is a contrast from Nao’s as she is older, from a different time period (theme: past and present and once again, blurring the lines between them), and is more reserved.

Overall: 5 stars, so please read this book

 

Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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Blurb:

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life…and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Review:

This book is . . . interesting. I feel extremely conflicted about it, so bear with me. Let’s start with what I did like. Scotland is such a gorgeous setting and I never got tired of the descriptions of it. The plot was perfectly paced and the characterization of Claire and Jaime was great. Kind of, but I’ll get to that. I felt totally immersed in this world, on late nights curled up with this book. Now on to the stuff that’s both like great and cool but at times WHAT THE F***!?Namely, Claire and Jaime’s romance. In the beginning, I was totally infatuated with Jaime and their romance was cute and really hot (because romance can be both cute and hot). Until Jaime beat Claire. As mentioned before, WHAT THE F***!? He falsely accused her of the motives of her attempted escape, which the real reason was because she wanted to GO BACK HOME. The feminist in me was all kinds of freaked out and angry while cringing during this scene. She wanted me to throw this book into the corner while cursing Jaime the hell out.

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Then, all the other parts of me were like, hmm. . . this is really disturbing. Yet it depicts relationships between a heterosexual married couple during that time period accurately.

“Without one word of direct explanation or apology, he had given me the message he intended. I gave you justice, it said, as I was taught it. And I gave you mercy, too, so far as I could. While I could not spare you pain and humiliation, I make you a gift of my own pains and humiliations, that yours might be easier to bear.Without one word of direct explanation or apology, he had given me the message he intended. I gave you justice, it said, as I was taught it. And I gave you mercy, too, so far as I could. While I could not spare you pain and humiliation, I make you a gift of my own pains and humiliations, that yours might be easier to bear.”

Justice as you were taught it, Jaime? Your punishment as you received as a son from your father is vastly different, oceans apart from the “punishment” you doled out on Claire because these two relationships are vastly different. As you can see, deeply conflicted. Turns out the review section of this wasn’t lighter.

To add even more to my oh-so deep struggle, Jaime will experience more bad stuff than he has revealed that he has already suffered through. This book is definitely NOT a light read, there are themes of sadism, abuse, and assault prevalent throughout the whole book. If you’re ok with reading about this, than I do recommend this book. If not, don’t come near within 10 feet of it. I have started reading the second book in the series, which I will probably write about as well.

August 2014 Wrap-up

(blurbs from Goodreads)

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Blurb:

“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls. “Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another. I am that girl. I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through. I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame. Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit. In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

Review:

Laurie Halse Anderson, is a very talented writer. The prose was haunting and scathing. The protagonist, Lia, scarily clever and extremely good at hiding her disorder after returning from therapy. I think many teenagers, especially girls of course, can relate to this book for everyone has probably experienced some sort of negative self-image, self-conscious thoughts at some point in their life. However, like in The Impossible Knife of Memory with Hayley, I disliked how she portrayed Lia. She was so insensitive and unappreciative of both sets of parents, her father, her stepmother, and her mother. In addition to that, the way Anderson wrote and described these relationships, and surprisingly Lia’s friendship with Cassie, was flat and kind of lackluster. I think the main reason why I wasn’t too affected by this story, was that the root of her distorted thoughts and actions wasn’t really explored. Overall it was a solid book, but it was a little to cut and dry for me. I did enjoy Anderson’s books Speak and Fever 1793 though. But again, meh.

Movies!

Starred Up is so gritty and violent and completely destroyed my stereotype of English people. Amazing movie.images

Begin Again was also a great and pretty cute hipstery.

Happy Labor Day Weekend,

Selina