[REVIEW] BEACHCOMBER, BLUE HOUSE & the mystery of the changed name //ROUGH MUSIC – Patrick Gale//

It seems that some of the most beautiful books I own come from a dusty, old bookshop. THAT’S where the magic lies. You go in with wonder in your eyes and excitement in your heart. You don’t know what you are looking for. You don’t know what you’ll find. And that’s half the fun, isn’t it? You just want to get lost in it, for hours..moving from corner to corner, your fingers tracing frayed corners of broken spines, flicking the pages.

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Its one of my favorite things to do. And on that sunny winter day, I was doing exactly this when my eye was captured by a book hiding away between a bunch of bulky hardcovers. On its cover was a little boy, on the beach, looking for something. And I didn’t even have to read what it’ll be about because something in my heart said that whatever story these pages contained, it’ll be worth reading.

And I wasn’t wrong.

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Rough Music is the story of a woman, her husband, and her son. It’s about her fears, her disappointments, and her guilt. It’s about a man always doing the right things and in the process failing to listen to his own heart. it’s also about a boy, a sweet little boy. A boy who lives in books and plays with criminals. A boy whose heart knows the truth but his mind wants to be a grown-up. 

But most of all it’s a story of a family and how it changed during one fine summer.

What happened during that summer? That summer holiday that was supposed to be an escape from the boredom and mundanity of life. That’s what this story is about.

About that fine summer on the beach.

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Patrick Gale is a sly human being. He hooks you in with a promise of a fun holiday and then he shatters your beliefs and your heart by turning it into something you’d never have expected. His lyrical writing captivates you from the instant you read that first sentence – full of desire, confusion, and hope to disappear. And then he forms a smoke-screen for you in the next few chapters to make sure that you believe his faux promise of a fun, loving, exciting family. 

The story follows two timelines and both of them intertwine so completely that it weaves a thick web around you and it continues to do so until you aren’t able to see anything but these beautifully flawed characters. Will – a man drowning in guilt and trying to break free of his conflicted mind, Frances – dealing with the slow but gradual demise of her memory – both good and bad, and John – a man struggling to keep it all together.

It’s amazing how much a story can change you as it changes the lives of the ones it belongs to.

Years ago, something happened in a house overlooking a beautiful beach. It was like a dream come true for little Julian – to be spending his holidays there, this heaven on Earth. And his parents? Well, they were deeply in love, as far as he was concerned. But this truth will soon change for him and when it does, he will be left with nothing but an overwhelming urge to break it all.

As the narrative shifts from Julian to Will to Frances to John, Gale presents a sharp contrast in their voices and although it seems like nothing at first but as you progress through the story, you find out just how much of their characters and their deepest desires is revealed through it. He captures the fantasy-ridden, innocent voice of Julian in such contrast with that of his parents that it’s impossible not to fall in love first, with him, and then with Patrick Gale for doing such an excellent job at bringing this little boy and everyone around him to life. 

The effect of his words is magnetic to the point that before you know it, you find yourself amidst all that is happening, with your senses heightened and your morality questioning every event that transpires.

It’s so well written that I couldn’t see the surprises coming. They kept closing in, all this time, and I was completely unaware. They stealthily caught up on me and in a moment, everything I thought I knew about every single one of them was pronounced false. 

Gale has this extraordinary talent of making things seem irrelevant until they turn into the exact opposite of that. Thrilling, in the most beautiful, lyrical way. His writing reads like elongated poetry, dispelling all the harsh truths and the sunny memories all at the same time, in an uninterrupted dream. 

Julian spent all of his childhood in uncommon vicinity to the prison and its inhabitants. Made friends with them. And it is almost poetic how he ultimately became one. In this way, the events of this story also give off a vague but unmistakable whiff of karma.

Rough Music puts the sanctity of marriage and relationships in bright light too for us to see the cracks that are otherwise impossible to discern. A marriage done solely for the comforts of belonging to someone and a desire to get away from a family of four brothers and a mother who saw her as a disappointment left Frances wanting more after the newness of the first few years wore off. And John? Well, he, bound to his duty as a prison governor and entangled in the web of politeness, never dared voice his deep love for her and it led to such disappointments later on that everything – every year they had spent together- was brought into question.

This story is also about memories.

Some we want to hold on to, others we bury deep inside, never letting them surface.

But what happens when they do?

THES N O WCHILD

When a spiteful daughter concocts a plan to send you to the very place where the dissociation of your seemingly lovely family began? When a desire for the feel of a handsome stranger calls everything you’ve been doing into question? When the guilt of hurting your sister constantly for almost as long as she’s been married drives you to such a point of confusion that you just don’t know what to do anymore? When a sound, a smell, a taste, an event brings back every emotion you’ve been suppressing for as long as you can remember? 

What happens when the past starts to flood your present and there is no anchor to hold on to?

EVERYTHING UNRAVELS.

I was also struck by the stunning contrast between what happened years ago – it’s excitement and the calm composed nature of the present circumstances acquired only after the long-accepted knowledge of those truths. They had made peace with their secrets and what happened at their unveiling and I, on the other hand, was left to the thrill and excitement and the emotional turmoil of it all. 

The unfolding of the events of this book is like the unveiling of a masterpiece – it takes its sweet time. It was less a mere advancement and more a discovery of relationships, their secrets, and the morals and attitudes that guided them – for better or worse – throughout the span of three generations. You will be told about secrets you wish you hadn’t been made privy to, you will be made to pity an old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s and defend her actions, you will be made to hate or be indifferent towards a daughter who was never really a daughter.

Yes, you will be MADE to do all of these things. You won’t have a choice. The writer is the master here and all you can do is bow down to his genius and let the story live in you, live through you. 

You’ll find that every word on these pages is intensely aware of its existence, the story painfully aware of its liveliness and this awareness will act as a bridge to the very souls of these characters. Only then they won’t just be ‘characters’ anymore. They will become your companions for the time being and beyond.

Rough Music isn’t just a story about a family and how they deal with life’s different blows and the problems in their relationships, it’s a piece of their life which Patrick Gale has entrusted us, the readers, to make sure that it is heard, understood, and reflected upon. 

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How much power does a name hold? It can change lives, memories, even the whole personality.

By the end, you will understand the mystery of a boy’s changed name.

A boy with heaps of guilt stacked on his little shoulders.
A man in love with his wife but ensnared by the silence that fears had imposed on him.
A woman losing her mind, and a loving doting husband losing himself in her.

I have lived their lives. Their forgetful, unforgettable lives. And now, their lives live in me. Maybe forever.
But memory is a fickle thing, isn’t it?

Ask Frances when you meet, in between the pages of Rough Music.

You will, won’t you? ♥

[REVIEW] Childhood. Innocence – lost & Found. Friendships. Secrets. And above all – LOVE //When God was a Rabbit – Sarah Winman//

It all started with a need to fill the hole that the last story had left it my heart. I wanted desperately to find something just as engrossing to fill my mind, to distract me once more.

The need was strong and so was the pull that led me to shift aside all of the things on my shelf that crowded this long-forgotten book, hiding away from sight, as if lost in its own story – quite happily too, it seemed. I picked it out, not quite knowing why I had felt the urgency to seek this one out in particular and embossed in light blue halo were words written in white – WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT, almost as if written by a little child, too excited to pay attention. With that thought, I opened it.

And I never closed it, not willingly anyway.

The promise of a journey deep into innocent, magical hearts and their brave lives. That’s all this book has to offer. As if it isn’t enough?

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Such is the nature of children that a mere flicker of magic, of the great unknown, is enough to draw them to it like a moth to a flame.
They don’t care about the consequences, they just want to make sense of the world around them, they just want to belong. And when none of that comes from the usual corners, they start to seek the same elsewhere. That’s what Elly did in the beginning. The world’s God, it seemed, loved everyone but her. So she decided to find another one. A better one. And she found it in Mr. Golan, their Jewish neighbor. With this new acquaintance started her journey of dreams and disappointments, too early for a child her age. Not to mention that soon Mr. Golan would do something that although Elly won’t be able to understand it then, it would change something in her. Something that she will confide, unwillingly, only with her brother. Something that would come out years later. And it would be okay. But that’s just the beginning of a long, long story.

Elly’s inquisitiveness and her relationship with the new girl Jenny Penny are so, so innocent that my heart went out. For both of them.

A strong relationship between a brother and a sister that became their rock against life’s many blows that were yet to come, witnessing a friend’s dysfunctional family that struck feelings that a young heart should never have been made to feel, forever escaping the truths of their identity and finally made to look them in the eye, beautiful friends found in the most unexpected places  – When God was a Rabbit isn’t just a story where a child’s innocent love and faith makes her pet talk and do things that can only ever happen in dreams, it’s about LOVE and all the different forms that it comes in our lives.

It’s about those sweet and magical years and experiences that have the power to transform our whole lives. And even in the later years when everything just seems so devoid of hope, the flickering memories of those delicious moments lived long ago can be redemptive, therapeutic, to say the least.

”I am here but I am not yours”

When God Was a Rabbit reminds us of the colossal significance of relationships, and their effects on us, on our whole lives – no matter what age they are formed in.

I could tell you all about how Joe dealt with the loss of his lover, how Alfie made peace with his lack of faith and how he regained it. I could tell you about the most unusual relationship between a brother, his sister. Yeah, I could tell you all of that and even more but all I really want you to understand about this novel is that the more you advance through this beautiful story of friendship and relationships and love and betrayal, the more you come to realize that this one of those stories that you have to live to really understand it.

Yes, reading it was like living it. Living through Joe’s ordeals, laughing with Elly and Jenny Penny, getting awestruck by Arthur’s ability to defy even death.

Some stories have so much going on in them owing to their exciting and racy plot that you hardly have enough time to REALLY examine the characters. But When God was a Rabbit is a purely character-driven story.  They will rise, they will fall, they will make you laugh, they will make you cry and by the end, you will leave with a fragment of them quietly tucked inside your hearts.

I have lived through a plethora of different emotions while reading this warm and, if I am being honest, at times shocking novel (in terms of the events that later transpire in the lives of them all) and all I can say is that –

When God Was a Rabbit is not just a novel. It’s an experience.

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And what about you? Have you read When God Was a Rabbit? Do you agree with me? How was your experience of the novel? Who was your favorite character?

[REVIEW] //One word – HOCKEYYYYY// US AGAINST YOU – Frederick Backman

When I picked up this book, it was already too late. Too late to turn back. Even though it would take me a few chapters to really start liking it, it would become a necessity for the next few hours that I read and read and read…and read this story. This story of kind hearts and brave minds. Of seriously misunderstood teens and the chaos within them. Of how it would shape their lives in a matter of a few seasons – whether for good or for bad.

There is nothing but extremes in Beartown. People go all out or they don’t go at all. They love with all their hearts or they just don’t care at all.

A town of winners. And everyone else.

A town where they only understood one religion – Hockey.
An obsession.
But is that really a bad thing? To be able to lose yourself into something even if just for a few minutes that you forget everything else?
Yes. And No.

 

A girl is raped. She didn’t mean to. It just happened. It wasn’t her fault. But nobody really cared. Or if they did, they didn’t much care to acknowledge it. A girl was raped and all the dominoes came crashing down all around this icy town. A girl was raped and it defined the lives of many, many people…for many, many days to come. A girl was raped and it gave birth to violence, resentment, hatred, depression, competition, and most of all, it gave birth to a reckoning.

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When tragedy strikes, we are surprised how it could ever even happen. When hatred simmers in young hearts, we try to locate the source. But more often than not, we forget that it was all in us. Always. The act just paved the way. It just acted as a catalyst for the things to come rushing out that have always been within us, to begin with.

Frederick Backman’s Us Against You deals with human fragility and their strength simultaneously. How a father will make peace with the fact that he couldn’t protect his daughter? How a best friend will collect himself when the person he loved the most turned out to be someone completely different? How certain people will try to take advantage of the chaos. Will they succeed? Will it be a good thing or a bad one if they did?

Beartown is all of these people and every one of them is Beartown. And they live for hockey. They live for becoming something other than who they are. For staying the same. For getting out. For staying put. They will fight until the very end. Until they can fight no more. But then something absolutely terrible will happen. It won’t be enough.

The odds will be stacked against them till the very end.

“Kira Anderson is sitting on the steps outside the little house. waiting for a man who never comes”

It’s also about relationships. With yourself. And others. How delicately you handle them? How much are you willing to sacrifice for them?
Whom do you put first?
Are you selfish? When are you not?

On a macroscopic level, Us Against You is an account of the all-important, all-consuming human pride. All the different flavors of it.

Political agendas.
Smart men.
Manipulation at their fingertips.

Dreams.
Sacrifices made to achieve those dreams.
Proving your worth in a town that understands nothing but successive wins. Peter Anderson and his dilemmas. Late-night driving.

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Tears.
Heartbreaks.
Career sacrifices.
A chance to forget about the shame that chance has seen fit to put on him. A chance to prove his worth.
Again.
And again.
A never-ending process. Because there will always be people who will underestimate you.


Determination.

The town gleams with it, inside out. Sure there is violence but there is also compassion which can easily be found in two mothers, their love for their children, their devotion to hockey. Its the little things that will make you fall in love with the residents of Beartownshaving cream filled shoes, an overly sarcastic friend, sisters doing anything they can to keep their brother in line, friends singing and shooting and irritating the hell out of each other, long runs and even longer practices to make sure the one who can do it, does it and doesn’t get off the track. These things will melt you, strike confidence in your heart about these people, get you pumped up for whatever their future will bring. Yes. It will do all those things.

But this story will also do something that every good story does and should – give you hope, give you strength.

”Mistake…just a mistake.”

The one person I always rooted for throughout the book, from the beginning till the end was a boy. An eighteen-year-old boy. This boy is reckless until he isn’t. This boy is harmful until he isn’t. This boy is a beast. Yes. But a beast hiding a fatherless childhood, a brute hiding the fear of non-acceptance. A brother, an uncle, a lover, a friend..he is all those things. If only people could look behind that strong facade. If only the man with the blue collared t-shirt didn’t think of him as just a mistake.

”Just a mistake”

One other thing about the writing that struck me as most beautiful is the amazing use of repetition by Backman throughout the novel. He uses it to tug at our curiosity in just the right amounts and at just the right places. And it may not seem like much right now but when you’ll read it, you’ll understand just how much it adds to the beauty of the story.

In the end, to understand the larger-than-life hearts of the residents of Beartown, you need to read it. You need to let their struggles consume you. They need you. They need you to understand their story. They need to tell it in their own words, horror and all.
Won’t you listen?

“We’ll stand tall if you stand tall”

 

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What did you think of the book?
Have I convinced you to read it yet?
What part intrigued you the most about this review?
What are you reading right now? Because I am in desperate need of suggestions!

Meet the children of their children of their children of their children //REVIEW – Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy//

I was tired from the day’s nothingness. Everything  seemed static. I had accomplished nothing that day. I just spent all those hours thinking about how NORMAL my life had become – devoid of any REAL excitement. NOTHING. And that was when I spotted the book, just lying on my side table.On top of it was a half-finished cup of coffee and a piece of cake. SEE, I WAS THAT TIRED!! I did not even finish my CAKE!!! But I mustered strength enough to pick up the book, dust off the crumbs and finally LOOK AT IT. It’s blue cover – the deep of the sky. A girl sitting with her back to my face. I wondered what she was thinking. I wondered what she might be looking at. AND THEN I READ THE TITLE. LIARS AND SAINTS. 

Continue reading “Meet the children of their children of their children of their children //REVIEW – Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy//”

This month’s obsession – Jane Austen

Hey, soooo…………………..huh…………………………I just realized that I obsess over particular writers and/or books on a bi-weekly or monthly basis and now that I come to think about it, I can easily share it with you guys too. 🙂

For this month, I will start with my LOVE, Jane Austen! 🙂 🙂 And there will be two+ posts each week about her works and my thoughts on them, in detail. This is something I do all the time but this is the first time I will be actually writing it all down. I hope it’s fun.

Cheers *clink*