The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

secrThe Secret Life of Bees is the compelling tale of how one girl’s life spirals out of control when she runs away from her abusive father. After falling upon the Boatwright sisters, she lives in a world of uncertainty and apprehension. She has finally found a place of refuge and happiness, but fears everything she has gained can be taken away in the blink of an eye. It follows the journey of one girl’s living nightmare, transformed into an unimaginable heaven in a world of tumult.

Set in South Carolina in 1964, Lily Owen’s lives with T. Ray on a peach orchard. He is abusive, violent, and ignorant of his daughter’s feelings and existence. She is cared for by Rosaleen, an African American woman who used to work on the orchard. Lily goes through each day, curious about the blurry memory of her mother’s death when she was four years old. For her fourteenth birthday, she asks T. Ray for more information about her mother, because all she has are a few small belongings buried in a box under a peach tree: one being a wooden carving of a black woman with “Tiburon, SC” carved into the back. He reluctantly tells Lily that her mother cared for all living creatures and used to lure cockroaches out of the house using graham crackers and marshmallows. Lily cherishes this information and the next day, Rosaleen is going to town to attempt to register to vote and Lily joins her. On the way, they are approached by three white men who question why Lily, a young white girl, is walking with a colored woman. Rosaleen proceeds to spit her chewing tobacco on their shoes, which lands her in jail. The men also beat her when she refuses to apologize. T. Ray angrily brings Lily home and punishes her. He tells her that on the day of her death, her mother came to pack up her things to leave Lily because she did not love her. Determined to refute this information, Lily packs her belongings, writes T. Ray a note that states her hatred for him, and runs into town to sneak Rosaleen from the hospital where she is strapped to the bed and being treated for her wounds. Lily and Rosaleen hitchhike to Tiburon, South Carolina in an effort to discover the missing pieces to the puzzle of her mother’s life.

Once they reach town, they stop at a general store where Lily notices a jar of honey, labelled with the same image from her mother’s wood carving: a black Virgin Mary. She asks the store clerk for the details of the source of the honey and Rosaleen and Lily make their way to the house. They meet May, June, and August Boatwright who warmly invite them into their house after hearing Lily’s story about how both her parents died and how she is on the way to her aunt’s house in Virginia. They plan to work for their stay, with Lily helping August on the honey farm and Rosaleen helping May around the house. They settle into their new, peaceful life and seamlessly transition into the Boatwright lifestyle, with no questions asked about their reasoning for being there. One day, Lily discovers May attempting to lure a cockroach out of the house using the same method as her mother: with graham crackers and marshmallows. Lily asks May if she knew Deborah, her mother, and May says that she used to stay in the honey house. This causes Lily to bring up the wooden carving with August. When she finally builds up the courage to open up about the real reason she ended up at the honey farm, it is revealed that August has been aware of the lie the whole time. August recognized Lily the second she walked through the front door many weeks before. When Lily’s mother needed a break from T. Ray’s violence and oppressiveness, she came to stay at the honey house for a while. She left one day and decided to go back to the peach orchard and pack the rest of her belongings and bring Lily to live with the Boatwright sisters. It was this event that resulted in her death. This news leaves Lily stunned when she fills in the missing pieces of her mother’s story and how she came to be. She is comforted when she realizes that she has eliminated a toxic male figure in her life but gained three new mothers who love her deeply. The theme of mother-figures is present throughout the novel when Lily is reminiscing about her mother or rejoicing in the three new mothers she has gained in her new life at the honey house. “Walking to the honey house, I concentrated on my feet touching down on the hard-cake dirt in the driveway, the exposed tree roots, fresh-watered grass, how the earth felt beneath me, solid, alive, ancient, right there every time my foot came down. There and there and there, always there. The things a mother should be.” We witness the transformation of Lily from an ambitious, sheltered young girl to a kind, mature, and determined young woman.

Sue Monk Kidd successfully blends the issues of segregation and gender inequality in the twentieth century. August Boatwright exhibits the breaking of racial and gender stereotypes by being a black woman who owns a house, runs a business, and is highly educated. The novel embodies female empowerment and color-blindness as Lily blossoms while living in an all-black community. The Civil Rights Act is newly enacted but is “nothing but a piece of paper,” and the presence of racial injustice is evident throughout the novel. We witness the overcoming of abusive relationships and the power of persistence shining through.

The Secret Life of Bees sends a powerful message of breaking the barriers of stereotypes and we travel with Lily as she overcomes challenges while venturing to a South Carolina town that holds the key to her mother’s past. The writing style is fluent and powerful, and the word choice leaves the reader feeling mesmerized and captivated. The language makes us feel as though they are right there with Lily, enduring her fear, pain, and happiness. It makes us question our own lives and the way we live them. This excerpt captures the ambiguity yet power of Kidd’s writing. “Knowing can be a curse on a person’s life. I’d traded in a pack of lies for a pack of truth, and I didn’t know which one was heavier. Which one took the most strength to carry around? It was a ridiculous question, though, because once you know the truth, you can’t ever go back and pick up your suitcase of lies. Heavier or not, the truth is yours now.” We journey with Lily as she overcomes the abuse of T. Ray and transitions into a life of bliss and contentment.

Reviewed by Charlotte K ’18

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The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

51+eJFxRr4L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_The novel, “The Lilac Girls,” by Martha Hall Kelly is all about three girls. Their names are Caroline, Kasia, and Herta. The story takes place during World War II, and highlights three very different experiences of the girls. Caroline, who lives in New York, works for the French Consulate. Charity is very important to Caroline, especially when it comes to helping French Families. Kasia lives in Poland and is like any other teenager. Hitler had just invaded Poland and Kasia is partly Jewish. Even though this is the case, Kasia’s main worries are high school and making friends. Lastly, there is Herta, who is a medical student in Germany.

Unfortunately, Herta believes all of Hitler’s lies, and thinks that the Jewish people are bad and stealing their jobs. Over time she comes to find out that she feels just like some of the Jewish people. People have been treating her unfairly in medical training because she is a woman. She also has to work with her Uncle who constantly takes advantage of her. The author does a great job at separating their three stories, and then eventually having them come back together. I was captured from the first page because it started off from Caroline’s perspective and I can relate to her. She lives in New York and is always trying to please her parents, but sometimes doesn’t succeed doing it.

The author does a great job at transitioning between the three girls’ lives. Throughout the beginning of the book it is hard to tell how their lives could connect in any way. The three girls are so different yet I still am captured by all of their stories. I chose to read this book because I love to learn about World War II. I was specifically impressed with the fact that it shows how the war affected three totally different people in places all around the world.

My favorite line of this book is, “If I’d known I was about to meet the man who’d shatter me like bone china on terra-cotta, I would have slept in” (1). This is the opening line of the novel and is narrated by Caroline. Opening this book and reading this line was just what I needed to grab my attention. It showed that there were going to be funny parts to the novel.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in World War II and who believes in girl power.

Reviewed by Caroline G. ’18

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

story Continue the story of Elena and Lila in Elena Ferrante’s, The Story of a New Name. Follow the story and see how new hardships affect their friendship and lives. Watch as family businesses, school, abusive cheating husbands, jobs, money, and so much more work to tear these two friends apart.

As the two friends’ paths separate they lose their close connection but always seem to come back to each other. Lina is now married to a rich abusive husband and lives an unhappy life until she meets Nino, whom Elena loves. Lina and Nino spend the summer together without Lina’s husband finding out who unbeknownst to everyone else is also cheating on Lina with another girl from their town. Lina finishes her schooling, leaves everything known to her to pursue her academics in college, on a full scholarship. She disapproves of Lina and is saddened by Nino’s fondness for her best friend so she cuts ties with both of them.

In college, Elena feels very out of place and felt that she, “would always be afraid: afraid of saying the wrong thing, of using an exaggerated tone, of dressing unsuitably, of revealing petty feelings, of not having interesting thoughts.” As someone coming from a very different background then everyone at her college she struggles to be accepted. She hides her accent and tries to seem more than she feels she is. She chooses to stay quiet in order not to accidentally say something that she thinks people would not approve of.

Elena Ferrante keeps readers engaged with her way with words that really make the reader think. By using issues that the reader can connect with when she conveys ideas that as normal people growing up can and may experience. Through Elena (the character), Ferrante teaches readers life lessons–some good and some not so good. In the story Elena struggles with being accepted but ultimately says, “I am what I am and I have to accept myself; I was born like this, in this city, with this dialect, without money; I will give what I can give, I will take what I can take, I will endure what has to be endured.” This teaches people how to believe in what and who they are and to always accept themselves because you can’t change the past.

Reviewed by Sarah C. ’18

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

nightSome novels are for escaping reality, for forgetting the pains of living on this planet by traveling to some faraway land – other novels are for precisely the opposite. These are the books that rip you apart from the sheer truth of them. The books that reveal the depths of pain present in the world and make you wonder how humanity can be called civilized. However, these books are also filled with hope, and show the reader not only the horrors but also the love and goodness within the human race. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is such a book. The novel follows two sisters, Isabelle Rossignol and Vianne Mauriac, as they struggle to survive the Nazi occupation of France during World War II.

Vianne, the eldest, is a young mother living in the small countryside town of Carriveau. The stability of her life is completely undone when her husband is mobilized. She is left to support her daughter, Sophie, on only her small teacher’s salary. As the war progresses, life becomes increasingly difficult for the residents of Carriveau. A Nazi soldier is billeted at her house, and she finds herself being forced to share her home and dwindling food rations with one of the men responsible for her and her daughter’s hardship. As the Occupation progresses, Vianne must make impossible decisions while attempting to support not only herself but her family and friends. Vianne learns that, however impossible it may be, “mothers don’t have the luxury of falling apart in front of their children, even when they are afraid”.

Across the country, Isabelle has just been expelled from her latest finishing school when war breaks out. The reader follows her to Paris, where, turned away by her detached father, she is swept up in the crowd of panicked Parisians fleeing to the countryside. Just outside of the city she meets a young man, Gaëtan, and the two travel across the dangerous warzone between Paris and Carriveau. As the years pass, Isabelle matures with the war as she learns to use her anger for good in the Resistance movement, and she runs an operation to help downed airmen cross the Pyrenees into Spain. But with every trip across the mountains she successfully makes, the Nazis come closer to catching her.

The Nightingale is beautiful and heartbreaking, and I could not stop reading once I first picked up the book. However, I do have a few small issues with the writing. My primary grievance is with the central romance within Isabelle’s storyline. Isabelle and Gaëtan’s relationship is a bit clichéd – Gaëtan is the mysterious convict and Isabelle is the rebellious eighteen-year-old willing to look past his enigmatic past – but clichés don’t always bother me. What I have an issue with in this case is the speed of the relationship. After only a few days of knowing Gaëtan, Isabelle falls for him. On the beginning of one page of text, Isabelle admits that she “really didn’t know [Gaëtan] at all”; ironically, a bit farther down the same page she tells him she loves him.

However, The Nightingale is not primarily a romance, and focuses on so many more relationships than Isabelle and Gaëtan’s. Hannah’s writing beautifully explores the complex relationships held between fathers and daughters, friends, mothers and their children, husbands and wives, and invading soldiers and the residents of the occupied country. The strength within Hannah’s characters is incredible, and reminds me that for all the atrocities in the world there are countless people willing to risk their lives to help others. The Nightingale teaches us that “it’s better to be bold than meek… if you jump off a cliff at least you’ll fly before you fall”.

 

Reviewed by Tara F. ’18

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

grayThe novel, “Between Shades of Gray,” by Ruta Sepetys is about a young girl named Lina, who is taken away by the Soviets, along with her family. The story takes place during World War II, and highlights the horrible experiences people had because of Stalin. Lina, her brother, and her mother are taken away one night by the soviet police and are thrown onto a train with a lot of other people who were taken captive. This was just the start of a long, hard, journey they were about to face. The author does a great job at immediately capturing the reader’s attention. Within the first couple of pages I was drawn to Lina and had sympathy for whatever was going to be ahead of her.

Lina keeps a journal where she writes everything down about her life. The journal gives the reader an inside look into her life, and we are able to witness all of her feelings. The journal adds a great touch to the book because it separates the reader from the rest of the story and provides information on what Lina’s life was like before she was captured. One of her journal entries talks about an instance when she and her mom were out shopping. Her mother says to her, “The boys are having their day and we’ll have ours.” This quote stood out to me because it showed how great her life was and how close her mom and her were.

I chose this book because I really enjoy reading about historical fiction. In particular, I like to read about World War II. I would highly recommend this novel for anyone who is interested in historical fiction, especially World War II. It does a great job at highlighting a whole other part of World War II aside from what was going on with Hitler and the Nazis. It is different from many other World War II books because it is about what Stalin did, not Hitler. The author wrote this book because her past family was captured by the Soviets. Although it is fiction, she did a lot of research and based her story on a lot of real experiences.

I believe that the stories that are told in this novel are very important for people to know. This story gave me a different perspective on life and led me to realize how important family is. It is a truly touching story that showed me how good I have it, and taught me to not take my life for granted because things can change in an instant.

Reviewed by Caroline G ’18

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

elenaMy Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is the tale of two girls, Lina and Elena, growing up in Naples, Italy. Throughout the story you see them grow alongside each other and with the world around them. The story starts when the girls are in elementary school and just beginning to learn about the world. At the top of their class, they are always competing to try and see who is the best. As they grow the competition heightens to not only school but to boys and economical hierarchy as well. Through the whole book, Elena narrates her day-to-day thoughts and what was going on in the town and the surrounding area.

When competing with each other Lina always seems to come up on top. Though their relationship is flawed Elena still tries to prove herself to Lina that she too can be the best. You always think that the title, My Brilliant Friend, is talking about Lina because Elena looks up to her in every way, constantly putting herself down, even though Lina had to end her schooling early due to money problems. When Elena tells Lina that she wants to stop going to school Lina insists that she is her “brilliant friend, (and that she has) to be the best of all, boys and girls”. Lina pushes Elena to be the best, which shows growth in the characters.

Elena Ferrante’s writing style is hard at first to get into and understand but once you get a hold of it the book is hard to put down. The lack of a structured timeline can be confusing but as the story progresses and the pieces come together you will have already been pulled in and there is no chance you will put down the book. Ferrante’s language provides a kind of poetical honesty that not many others offer. At one point in the story she writes, “Children don’t know the meaning of yesterday, of the day before yesterday, or even of tomorrow, everything is this, now: the street is this, the doorway is this, the stairs are this, this is Mamma, this is Papa, this is the day, this the night.”

The first half of the book shows the girls at the beginning of their friendship where it is just one competition after another in the classroom which can become tedious but as they grow and begin to do things on their own and you begin to see them grow as individuals.

This story takes you to a different world where nothing is taken for granted and shows you the hardships and joys of a best friend. Grow up again through there eyes as they explore what it is like to grow up in the 1950s in a world that is so different from your own.

Reviewed by Sarah C. ’18

 

 

 

 

 

All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen Nichts Neues) by Erich Maria Remarque

quiet“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war.”

Erich Maria Remarque’s novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” begins with this epitaph, which summarizes the author’s intent in writing the novel. Remarque was born in 1898 to a lower-class family in Germany. While at University studying to be a teacher, he was drafted into the German army, where he fought, and was later wounded. He wrote “All Quiet on the Western Front” in 1927 based off his own experiences and those of his comrades, for the reasons stated in the epitaph. The novel was wildly popular, especially in the US, which made a movie adaptation in 1930. Later, the book was banned by the Nazis because of the anti-war sentiment, and Remarque escaped to the US.

The novel starts with the narrator Paul and his company coming back from the front line (where most of the fighting took place), and enjoying a good meal after days of hard fighting. The soldiers are excited because they get double rations because half the company has been killed or injured. Despite these casualties, after eating his fill, Paul states, “We are satisfied and at peace,” leaving anyone who, like me, has not experienced the horrors of war to wonder what could have caused the soldiers to be so emotionless about the deaths of so many comrades and friends.

Then, Remarque brings the reader up to the front lines, seeing the war through Paul’s eyes as he runs for cover from a shelling, endures poison gas attacks, uses a corpse as cover while getting attacked in a graveyard, and debates putting a mortally wounded 18-year-old recruit out of his misery, “Shouldn’t we just take a revolver and put an end to it?”

This novel is intended to make the reader uncomfortable. The descriptions of rat-infested trenches and gory wounds made me squirm (“we see men without mouths, without jaws, without faces”), but the descriptions of psychological pain were more unpleasant. One example is when Paul and his comrades are forced to listen to the cries of wounded horses. Paul describes the sound of the screams penetrating through their ears “It is not men, they could not cry so terribly.” Another example of psychological pain is when Paul pulls out the pocketbook of a French soldier he has just killed to find the letters to the man’s wife and child. It is one of the few moments he shows grief in the book, but within a few hours he buries his emotions and turns back into the soldier he has had to become.

However, the novel is not completely filled with horror and destruction. There are many scenes of Paul and his comrades hanging out and joking around. The simple language used in these scenes contrasts Paul’s more poetic narration. These scenes of dialogue also serve to humanize soldiers who lived on a different continent a century ago. While reading the dialogue between these men, I was reminded that, for the most part, they were just three years older than me.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” is interesting in part because it is written from the perspective of someone on the losing side of a major war. But the experiences described in the novel can be generalized to all sides. After Paul kills the French soldier, he realizes the similarity of their experiences, wondering, “Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony—Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?”

The title “All Quiet on the Western Front” is ironic. In the original German, it is, “Im Westen Nichts Neues”, which directly translates to, “In the West, Nothing New.” The army report for the day on which one of the main characters dies contains these words. In 1918 in France, death was nothing new.

I would recommend this novel for anyone who wants to learn more about the life of average soldiers during World War I. However, I would not recommend reading it if you are sensitive to gory descriptions, because there were quite a few of those. It was definitely an emotionally difficult read, but a worthwhile one.

Reviewed by Katie F. ’18

 

 

 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

coverFor those of you who read my book review on The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, you will find that The Boy in the Striped Pajamas has a similar theme. In his novel, John Boyne addresses the issue of antisemitism, the holocaust, and concentration camps. However, he does it slightly differently than all of the other stories we usually hear about this time period in books, movies, and history textbooks. Boyne tells this story through the eyes of a little boy.

Although it is sometimes very difficult and gut-wrenching to read books about a topic so horrifying inhumane and gruesome, it is a must-read and is impossible to put down. The story opens with a young boy named Bruno. At the age of nine his family is uprooted because his father has a new job. They leave their cozy little house, the backyard that Bruno loves to play in, and all of his friends behind. Bruno’s mother tries to explain to him that the reason for their move is not because it’s just his father’s job, but it’s his duty. That is the first time in the book that the reader becomes aware of the fact that the father and the families story is going to coincide or overlap in some way with the story of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

The house that they arrive at is far different from the one they lived in before. There is no grass, there is no comfortable house. And even more dramatically is the shift from having all of his neighborhood friends to having nothing at all. Except for the people on the other side of the fence, of course. From his window Bruno would watch all of these people in jumpsuits. It is immediately apparent to the reader that his new neighbor is a concentration camp. One that his father is in charge or helping to run with his fellow soldiers. His ignorance and innocence is what makes the story so unbelievable.

But the story takes an unprecedented turn: one day Bruno decides to go out exploring. In his quest he finds another little boy named Shmuel on the other side of the fence. They become best friends and continue to have a relationship, undenounced to Bruno’s father of course. The rest of the story follows this intriguing, beautiful, and heartbreaking story of the boy’s friendship and a tragedy that arises from it all. Yet, “…despite the mayhem that followed, Bruno found that he was still holding Shmuel’s hand in his own and nothing in the world would have persuaded him to let go.”

Having a family connection to the Holocaust made the story even more incredible for me to read. However, this is a book for everyone, even if you have no personal connection to the historical events behind the story. It’s a story that proves people are not born with hate. Love and acceptance are innate. Bruno is able to continue his love and friendship for his newfound friend despite the role his father has. It’s a point of view that any reader could benefit from or be inspired by. I think especially in our world today it is important to remember that people are all equal, even when one sits on a dirt floor with a striped jumpsuit, as the other sits on grass with a father who salutes. I was moved beyond words by this story and the way that John Boyne went about telling it. There are no other books to my knowledge that carry out this agenda so beautifully and seamlessly. I recommend it to everyone a million times over.

Reviewed by Bella ’17 for Literature of the Millennium

 

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

coverInstead of sending it off to the conveyor belt of the dining hall, I decided to finish my last piece of bread and felt the guilt, more strongly than ever. I went upstairs to my room and picked up the half-opened book on my desk, One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. As the food was swallowed down my throat and the warmth spread inside me, I was once again unsettled by the stories of survival in One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich, feeling a sense of responsibility to carry on the weight of the darkest days of Soviet history so that both the impotency and resilience of human life under extreme conditions shall never fade away from the collective memories of human race.

One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich is an account of life in the Gulag—the Soviet forced-labor camp—during the years of Stalin. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a prominent intellectual and dissenter of the Soviet Union, drew from his own experience in the Gulag in writing the novel, making the protagonist, Ivan Denisovich, somehow a truthful reflection of Alexander himself. As suggested by the title, the novel is written in the voice of Shukhov (Ivan Denisovich), a prisoner who has been in one of the Gulags in Siberia for seven years. From Shukhov’s perspective, we not only have a detailed account of the extreme and inhuman conditions of the camp, including the schedule of the prisoners, constant hunger and coldness, stringent discipline and savage treatment the of prisoners; we also empathize with his fervent thoughts and emotions that he buried deeply within.

It is perhaps difficult for us who live in the post-Soviet world today to imagine and truly comprehend the experiences of those who persisted in Gulag. It is easy to dismiss the sense of other-worldedness that one can find in this book because the description is perhaps too forthcoming and abominable to be a true. However, the camp is like a complex and hostile ecosystem where the rule of natural selection created a hierarchical social ladder that governed the lives of all. Prisoners have to follow strict, semi-military discipline of the camp that controls every aspect of life: Organized into gangs and labeled by number, they eat and sleep all together under the constant watch from the authority, ranging from the foreman to warder to commander and to soldier. Lives of the prisoners are worthless, and there are a millions ways one can die in the camp—coldness, insufficient food, penalties due to misdemeanor of disobedience of any formal or informal rules all attribute to an unnatural death. Nonetheless men persist in these extreme conditions

What moves me deeply about this novel is the admirable resilience of human souls in face of institutional cruelty. The will to survive is so strong that they adapt to the system, and one of the means they succeed in doing that is to forgo the ability of thinking, to think as minimally as possible. It is perhaps insane to say that Gulag simplifies one’s life in confinement, but it is a cold, relentless truth in the most tragic sense. Solzhenitsyn captures this truth with short, choppy sentences and realistic articulation of one’s thoughts, and the following description of the dinner scene reflects the effect of his style:

“He began eating. First he just drank the juice, spoon after spoon. The warmth spread through his body, his insides greeted that skilly with a joyful fluttering. This was it! This was good! This was the brief moment for which a zek lives. For a little while Shukhov forgot all his grievances… For the moment he had only one thought: we shall survive. We shall survive it all. God willing, we’ll see the end of it!”

Solzhenitsyn’s plain, simple language and hopeful tone not only illustrates the incredible strength and the will to survive of each prisoner; it also conveys a sense of tragedy by putting the noble resilience of a human being against the backdrop of unimaginable cruelty. As I was reading this, a vivid image came across my mind—a candle burning in the darkness; its flame was tragically cheerful.

I decided that I will try my best not to waste any food after putting down One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich. It might seem silly—how much a difference would my action actually make? However, a book like One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich has the power to remind us over and over again that those who have suffered, who are suffering, and who will suffer are real human beings, whose stories not only bear testimony to any difficult memories of the past but also transcends history itself. Those stories are as timeless as this simple truth: we all have the alienable right to live regardless of the conditions we find ourselves in.

Reviewed by Charlotte C ’17 for Literature of the Millennium

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

cover“For you a million times over…”

A peek into Afghanistan before the war; before the pain and before the wreckage. The beautiful, raw landscape harboring towns filled with bustling streets, marketplaces and joyous children. A walk into the mysterious and magical life of kite running, frosted winter days, and steaming feasts. This story hurdles you into the excitement and anticipation of a kite run on a crisp spring day, the rush of adrenaline and the guiding wind; a perfect storm to have the winning kite.

This story is not shy of pain either; so you are become familiar with the young boy’s bloody hands from a long day of kiting, the disappointment of a disillusioned father, and the vomit inducing anxiety of the bare thought of that disappointment.

The Kite Runner tells a heart wrenching story of brotherhood and betrayal. The perfect companion, teased and taken for granted as a result of utter envy and paternal jealousy. A seemingly simple and rather idealistic tale of childhood friendship is quickly transformed in a life changing, rather gutless moment.

What remains now is a broken but ever forgiving and loyal servant and the guilt-drenched, nightmare ridden boy whom he once served. Their separation causes a cascade of events neither one could ever predict, leaving them tangled in a mess of loss and lies on opposite sides of the globe.

This story follows life after the end of their friendship, and the manner in which that one moment changed each of their lives forever.

Heart breaking and beautiful; it provides a unique and authentic perspective that can not be otherwise obtained through any other experience.

Reviewed by Trinity A ’17 for Literature of the Millennium