Getting in Touch With Our Innerselves

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Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

My rating: 5 stars

Growing up, I imagined myself being older and the freedom that came with age. I thought adults were free. I was so terribly wrong. In fact they’re so imprisoned by all their regrets, the layers and layers of deceit and expectations that define and restrict who they want to be.

It’s indeed difficult to find real people these days. Everywhere you look, every one looks a like —the resemblance is extremely striking; clothes, mannerisms, speech, everything is copied. There’s no originality.

It’s like we forgot what we were all once like. We omitted the embarrassing parts, the dirty pasts and called them shameful. We reinvented ourselves; escaped the past and turned our backs forever. Nothing is again the same. We’re simply a whole person after we’ve fought, won, lost our triumphs.

This book really draws out the real me. I connected with every character, even when my current life situations are far from theirs. Most of all, I remembered —no, I understood that things won’t always be the same. Common knowledge, I know. But there comes a point where we forget that things can change; that anything is possible. For a time we feel trapped and hopeless. We get consumed by our past and our presents; our fears let us forget and miss possibilities and chances, all because we fear so much in this world: failure, disappointment, pain, suffering. But this book reminds us that we’ve got a power to change our fates.

Lucy got out but she has never forgotten. And in this way has she really gotten freedom? The book points out that adversity isn’t an excuse to turn out bad. In fact the book portrays sufferings as inspiration. All form of self-doubt, self-hate, is all a chance to become a better version of ourselves. This book is life itself —what it means to be part of this world; Perspective. I think this book gave so much perspective, both literally and figuratively. I lost count of how many people told their story and how they saw it, how they got affected by it, and yet everything was so seamlessly connected. There was no point in the entire book where I questioned or doubted that this is real life, because this is what happens.

I’m likely never getting over this book, nor will I ever forget it. Because after turning the last page, I find myself just staring in space and thinking about all of it. Not just about me, but in general. Most books would make me think and question my life, this one made me understand life.  I’m sitting here thinking about how everything happens so fast and yet so subtle; every change of season is barely noticeable. Unless snow starts to fall and then flowers begin to bloom, and only then do we realize. But even then, it can still so easily be missed.

I’m here thinking about how amazing life is, considering how painful, troublesome and dramatic it all is. Because it’s true, life is such a drama but this book will remind us that it could be worse. But it doesn’t make you feel guilty, the way we’d feel once we realize  other people are starving and don’t have a proper roof above their heads; it only makes you aware that life is what you make it —and this, we should take to heart and never forget.

I also realize I should likely try to summarize this book but seriously no form of summarization will ever prepare you for the journey this book will take you. And trust me, it will take you so far. The ending was wonderful. It made me realize that what we want from this world is so far from what we really need: Connection. Being alone is so sad, especially amidst adversities. Keeping all those things bottled up is so destructive. But at the same time you ask yourself if it’s reasonable to complain about? This book really made me feel less alone. It was like meeting an old friend who knew me from the day I was born, to the days I found hard to live, and to the days I found strength to keep going. There are times hope is nowhere to be found, and Lucy Barton really could’ve just ended up repeating the cycle but instead she got out and lived the life she wanted. She is an inspiration, a symbol of hope, and the proof that things will be okay even when you think things are at its worst, it actually isn’t and things will get better.

There is so much this book has to offer, just like life has so much to offer aside from all the flowing of tears and pricking of hearts. Life can be so much more. Elizabeth Strout knows and understands life and everything that comes attached to it and she’s here sharing it with us. I’m so lucky to have received an Advanced Reader’s Copy for this book. Thank you, Random House. I am so honored and proud to know of an author who walks outside the grid and still survives.

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Love Never Dies

 My Life as A Bench by Jaq Hazell

My Rating: 3 stars

In love, there are always walls; steps to climb and obstacles to overcome. I’ve read books about lovers being separated by social status, age, sex, race, time, and distance. But books like this reminds us that in the end, love wins. 

This book is about Ren and Gabe; how we find love so unexpectedly and lose it just as easily, and yet it’s still there. At the age of seventeen, with her entire life ahead of her, Ren dies unexpectedly and finds herself as a bench. Yet even as a bench, Ren still feels her love for Gabe and struggles to relive every moment from the day they met, the love they shared, to the fate that drove them apart. 

The bench thing is an odd concept really, but I suppose nothing is completely gone as long as someone cares enough to remember. However I’m not one to believe in spiritual possessions and the like. I do believe that people seek peace whether in this world or beyond so it does somehow make sense. Perhaps I just don’t think about what happens afterwards. 

The book further tackles subjects on family, friends, and overall life as a teenager. There was a point in the book that talked about teenagers and their self-absorption. Honestly, I don’t think it’s just teenagers. I think everyone is self-absorbed in a way. It’s just that teenagers are more rebellious and find the need to fight against things that they don’t agree with. 

I’m not a very romantic person either and honestly romance isn’t even my genre. But it was easy to fly through the chapters of this book and involuntarily cross my fingers that love proves to defy gravity, break logic, and even crossover the spiritual world. I did not find the need to roll my eyes, so for those who are tired of clichés this could be your next read.

Overall, 3 stars. I love the cover, the title just screams supernatural. I won’t lie however, it was a tad bit predictable. Maybe that’s just me finding the cliché in every romantic story whether in real life or in fiction. And yet it didn’t become boring; the writing style made it easy to keep going and to finish the book. The characters felt a bit bland however, even though the concept is fresh; the book really needs more building up. There was no climax, although the ending was satisfying thank goodness. I understand it must’ve been a challenge to write in a perspective of a bench so kudos to the author for making it work and seem so natural.

I was lucky to receive an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I recommend this book to hopeless romantics, to people who have felt love and grief, and to the rest of us who have forgotten what it felt like and what it means to live, to love, and to die.