SULA – Toni Morrison

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I am not going to go on and on about the author as I presume everyone know who The Toni Morrison is. I was a little skeptical in reading this book as I had bought beloved and I did not get a chance to read it. I read this book and fell asleep in few pages twice. Then I read the book during the day and I could not put the book down and I finished the book in one go.

It is a sad yet beautiful novel. It touches you in such a way that it is hard to describe. It is a very well written book and everyone should read this at least once. It is a black feminist literary. It was published in November 1973. The writing style and the hidden messages make the book powerful. It deals with motherhood, freedom, friendship, societal stigma and notion, murder, love, resentment and many more. The main theme is friendship and freedom. The friendship of Sula and nel just brings tears to my eyes.

My view:

I loved the books portrayal of friendship supersedes marriage. As in the foreword the author mentions how this book will give light to different meaning of freedom to different people. All these women were trying to protect their vulnerability at that age at that time. They were shaped differently as per their experiences in life.

To Eva Peace it was taking control of her life after her husband left her. She becomes the matriarch and lives her life. This was her freedom.

To Hannah Peace (Sula’s mother and Eva’s daughter) death of her husband being a widow she explores sexual aspect as part of her freedom. For Hannah freedom meant being sexually promiscuous and enjoying it.

To Sula Peace freedom was going against societal established norms her own choice which she never regretted. She showed courage by cutting her finger and hurting herself so that she can be free. Her freedom lied in the fact she was her own master.

To Helen Wright (Nel’s mother) it was getting away from her mother’s life as a prostitute and becoming something exactly opposite of her mother and being a leader of church and following societal norms as against her mother’s choice which society despised.

To Nel Wright her freedom was not letting fear of being black and the way her mother felt at bus get her. She follows her mother’s footstep of seeking religious and social respectability.

 

The Story: (Spoiler ahead)

The book is divided into two parts. First part of the story revolves around Sula and till she completes her high school. The second part of the book is after 10 years when Sula has completed her college and is back to her old town. The story depicts the typical 1920’s of race and society, world war PTSD, racism and how many things changes people. In a fictional Ohio valley the whites live at the bottom and the Blacks live on the hills which is ironically called “The Bottom”. This is a story about two girls and how they are brought up in same atmosphere yet different atmosphere. Sula lives in a big house ruled by her matriarch grandmother. She has seen the cruelty and the power that can change things. She meets Nel who becomes her best friend.

On the other hand, Nel is the granddaughter of a prostitute in New Orleans and has seen how her mother was racially harassed while visiting her sick grandmother. Nel’s mother Eva Peace is completely opposite of her mother and Nel has seen her mother become the pillar of the community. Nel has vowed never to feel the same way her mother did in the bus ever.

Their friendship is described in detail in the first part of the book where while being harassed by white Irish Catholic boys and Sula cutting her own finger in defense and scaring the boys. They are two bodies and one soul. Their conversation is described as talking to oneself. They put each other first. Then there is the Chicken incident where a little boy is drowned and they keep it a secret.

The post world war PTSD leads to Sula’s mothers brother to get into drugs and alcohol which cannot be tolerated by her grandmother and she sets her son on fire after hugging him like a baby. Sula also witnesses her mother being sexually active and later catching a fire in her clothes and getting burned where she was shocked and is motionless. This incident is seen by her grandmother who thinks Sula as cold hearted. Then post high school Nel gets married and Sula leaves town.

Sula returns to Medallion (the bottom) after 10 years where Eva is still the matriarch and Nel has two children. Then catching her best friend and her husband naked she ends her friendship with Sula and her husband abandons her. They start living a different life where Sula experiences societal disgrace and is ostracized by the society. She becomes the society’s evil where having promiscuity, destroying her best friends marriage, coming to church with no underwear on, and sending Eva to a mental asylum and taking the victim money (her grandmothers disabled money). They lead a different life. They again meet just before Sula passes away. They converse and Nel leaves telling Sula she will never come back to visit her again. When Sula dies she realizes death is painless, something she must tell Nel.

After 25 years when Nel is volunteering at the mental asylum she meets Eva who tells her she saw Nel witness boy who was called Chicken drown and do nothing about it. The book ends where she realizes all these years she thought she missed her husband and felt alone. It was not that in reality she missed Sula her best friend her counterpart. It was Sula all along.

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The Forgotten Girls – Sara Blaedel

Here I go again reading a novel without knowing its a series. So somehow even though i read The Forgotten girls by Owen Laukkanen instead of this i failed to check again if this novel is part of a series. However it was an easy read and very smooth and not so complicatedly detailed like Owen Laukkanen’s novel The forgotten Girls I actually might read the whole series in the future.

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This novel is also famously known as Louise Rick series. This novel is 4th in the series and it is by a Sara Blædel who is also known as Denmark’s “Queen of Crime”. 

Louise wanting to join a new task force leaving the homicide department she is brought back to her home town. Where a women is found who has a scarred face. The scar is so distinct that they have no time in identifying who she is however things get complicated when they find out that she was a mental patient about 30 years ago and was declared dead along with her twin sister the same day with just a minute difference. Although previously identified her as Lisemette they come to know she is Lise and her inseparable twin sister is Mette who they hope is still alive. She has a new partner called Eik. Who at first seems lazy and incapable or that’s what Louise’s first impression is. She also comes across her recent ex boyfriend who is leading another case that might be a connection to her case. It seems they both are at ease and have no hard feelings about their breakup.

The story unfolds and it is like watching or you binge on your favorite crime show that gets solved and you are satisfied. the story slowly starts to unfold from 1970 to present day what happened that led to the girls being declared as dead or what is the story behind it. It is a beautiful read. Along with this there is Camilla Lind Louise best friend and who was a journalist and is busy preparing for her wedding and just having a fit with her fiance her journalist string kicks in and she starts her own investigation and finds new clues or stories. Along with this her past comes to haunt her. Her ex dead boy friend’s friends and the whole gang comes to the view.

I really want to know why did her ex boyfriend commit suicide by hanging himself? While reading towards the end one of his friends tell her he did not even have the guts to tie a rope around his neck. I want this mystery solved!!! Why someone who just moved in with her and were planning a future together commit suicide when they have not even opened all the boxes in their new house/home?

If you love crime fiction with a back story you should definitely go for this. You can actually read this as stand alone novel too.

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Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll

This book has also been compared to Gone Girl. What I don’t understand is the fact that girl on the train and this book they may have the same genre however in my opinion none of these stories can remotely be compared to awesome gone girl. All of these books have their own specific characteristics. I was hugely disappointed with Girl on the Train but I liked this novel a little bit better than that.

luckiest girl alive book cover

Synopsis:

Ani FaNelli who is 28 years old has a perfect life. She has a perfect fiancé (rich) and has a glamorous job and is in a perfect body shape that people envy. However, she has a dark past. She was originally called Tiffani.

Tiffani gets thrown out of her old school just over the fact that some girls are caught smoking and her appearance was more of a mature girl (thanks to her breasts which developed early) she gets thrown out. Then determined to leave her past and have a new start she joins another school. There she makes friends and things happen. Not only to her but also to the entire school. She makes friends and enemies along the way. This leads to the story title I think luckiest girl alive because she survives. Why? And under what circumstances? Go ahead and read the book. Then there is this film/documentary maker who wants to personally interview her and one other survivor just prior to her wedding. She realizes it will open up her dark secrets and one of the film makers is none other than her new schools teacher who was young at that time and she had a crush on. She also learns that he is engaged to the other film maker. Furthermore she comes to know that the other person being interviewed is her classmate who has a dark secret of his own with Tiffani.

My review:

I liked the book. It was an easy read and although always wanting the book to take its pace I liked this novel. The author Jessica Knoll also mentioned in an interview that the she was also gang raped and that is how she incorporated this into the book. However, there are lots of incident in this book not only this. It is not so dark but it tells a story of a girl who due to some bad experience learns how to survive in this world. The book goes back and forth where what happened in the past and what is happening in the present come together. She finally puts her demons to sleep in a cunning manner. She does this to gain more attention or just to feel at ease after all these years is unknown. In my opinion she does it to gain more attention. It is not a bad read.

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The Forgotten Girls – Owen Laukkanen

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First of all I would like to say that I enjoyed this book however I accidentally read this book due to confusion with the book that I intended to read having the same title. I was supposed to read the book The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel however both having same name I picked this book instead.

I finished this book and I am currently reading the book by Sara Blaedel.

After finishing the book and after realizing that it is a different one I searched the internet and came to know it’s the sixth book in the series.

My Synopsis of the Book:

The book starts with a girl named Ash getting off a train and meeting a man who talks and then kills her. After finishing a case Kirk Stevens and Carla Wildermere who are Minnesota based FBI agents who work for Criminal Apprehension Violent Task Force get a case of a girl found along the train lines dead for some time. While investigating the case they realize same Modus Operandi (MO) found among various cases (unsolved) dating back to years and years. They come to a conclusion that it is a case of a serial killer who kills along the high line trains and the victims are usually runaways who are not sought after when they vanish (forgotten). Ash has a friend named Mila who was train hopping with her and considered her a good friend. She and Mila get high on trains and at a place where train stopped she vanished and Mila assumed that she must have changed her route. Mila accidentally sees a man carrying the same knife that Ash owned (given to her by her grandma). She knows it her knife because using that knife she once saved Mila and that is how they became friends. To justify Ash’s death she goes on a hunt to kill the man who killed Ash. The story goes parallel where on one hand Mila is getting closer and on the other hand the FBI agents are learning more things and getting to know who the killer is and also Mila going on her own.

My Review:

Overall I liked the book. Although as I mentioned earlier that I accidentally read this book I enjoyed it. It is by a Canadian mystery author Owen Laukkanen and the book is Stevens and Wildermere series. It gets a little bit lengthy because I love watching crime shows and they end in less than an hour but the detailing and the description is spot on. Thank god it can also be read as a standalone novel. I like how the story starts out having two distinct situations and both going to find the same culprit and how in the end everything comes together and the story ends.

 

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Unfiltered – Lily Collins

This is probably the first of many celebrity author books that I will read. The main tag line of the book suggests it is Lily Collins being unfiltered with no shame, no regrets just her. Well she has tried to bare it all about her life however here is my review. The format of the book is she starts with a quote of her own and then a new chapter begins.

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“THE QUIRKY THINGS THAT MAKE YOU DIFFERENT ARE WHAT MAKE YOU BEAUTIFUL.”

What I liked:

It is a good read and she shares her failed relationships, battle with eating disorder (can’t wait to watch the movie To The Bone) and her carefree nature. What i loved about her is that fame caught on to her and she has been rejected for movies and TV series (shock for me was she was not selected as Jenny Humphrey) and how from an awkward teenager she has grown into a beautiful soul. She talks a lot about her relationships and how her mother is a pillar in her life, how she has plucked her eyebrows to fit in (which she regretted) and how she has been in submissive relationships and how we should realize that one failed relationship doesn’t mean end of the world.

In short she talks about everything that we must have done during our teens to fit in and how every time that was difficult and we lost a part of who we actually were. Then her media life where she has been in attention. Then comes her relationships with people who were addicts and how she felt she was doing something wrong when the other guy ignored or ghosted her. Then comes how along the way she learned to let go and be happy and do all the weird things that makes her happy. She is also a good cook.

What I disliked:

It is same old story of how the celebrities are like us humans. How they love the small things in life. Once you keep reading it you come to know how it is repetitive. She frequently talks about her addict ex boyfriend a lot and also how we should take control of our life and not get into the stereotypical notion that the world is structured.

What i hated reading:

I expected the book to be more of telling us stories about Lily Collins life but it disappointed me in this regard. She mentions something and then again it seems like a self help book where she keep on saying we should live life the way we want and not think about what happened and not be concerned about what people expect and what they might say. It becomes repetitive.

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Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty

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It is the usual Liane Moriarty story of friendship, love and complicated relationships. The format of the book is the same where the story goes back and forth and something drastic or some incident happened that changes lives of people in and around that day. The main event is as I like to call it “The Day of the Barbeque” or what the novel calls it “Unfortunate Barbeque incident”.

There are three couples are Sam and Clementine, Erika and Oliver, Vid and Tiffani and there is a neighbor an old man.  Sam and Clementine were best friends. They still are although they have drifted apart. Vid and Tiffani are Erika’s neighbours who have a daughter named Dakota. Dakota seems smart for her age. Finally Clementine and Sam where the whole story revolves around and they have two daughters. One fine day Erika meets Vid who asks Erika and her husband to their home for barbeque and along with them he mentions why Erika doesn’t also invite her Cellist friend (Clementine). Erika has something to ask to Clementine and has been looking for an opportunity and right time to talk to Clementine. Everything comes down to that afternoon. Erika asks Clementine and after their awkward talk they go to the barbeque. There Sam and Clementine’s private talk is overheard by Oliver. All the guys are enjoying Tiffani’s old stories about how she was a dancer. Clementine is flirting with Vid and vice versa. Everybody is enjoying themselves until the incident happens.

The story moves back and forth so the incident happened and since then all three couples have not been in contact. The neighbor also plays a major role. The story depicts how actually their life is. Sam and Clementine have a dry mundane life nothing to spice up their life. No one makes an effort. Erika has always felt shadowed by Clementine and her perfect family life since childhood. Since the time Erika and Clementine (who initiated) to be friends because Erika’s mother is a hoarder and she had bite marks all over her body due to it. Erika has always adored Clementine’s family although she feels intimidated inside. She has always felt inferior. The thing that Erika and Oliver heard, the incident, the choice that Clementine was expected to make and what went on between the three children and the bystander neighbor who saw everything.

It is a pretty interesting book. I like reading Liane Moriarty’s book. She is not my favorite of author and may be in couple of year’s time when I will still be reading her book I might actually know all the plots and I might get tired of the same style of writing. But I liked this book not loved it. I saw the new book on Reese Witherspoon’s instagram post where while she was shooting critically acclaimed Big Little Lies (Which by the way I loved the miniseries and it was more detailed than movies that they make). So it’s exciting to read the book although it was not a page turner for me. It has twist and turns that people love. I loved how there are not many characters. Overall, a good book. After you are done with the book you realize that cover of the book explains all.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child By J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

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The wait is finally over!!!

I did had a chance to buy the book in Nepal but as I was pre occupied I forced myself not to buy. Then I bought after my work was done. I bought it yesterday and as the book is a page turner I completed the book about 2 hours ago. It is a very easy read.

The summary is now then teenagers Harry Potter, Hermione Granger (now married to Ron), Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy are 40 year old’s. Draco has a son named Scorpius. Ron and Hermione have two kids Rose Granger Weasley and Hugo. Harry and Ginny have 3 children James, Albus Severus and Lily. The three family are here to drop their kids off to Hogwarts.

The story is about a son Albus who is sorted into Slytherine house and  to his dismay considers this as a bad thing. He constantly looked down by every student as he is not as smart as his father and he is suppose to be a legacy. This burden brings him down. On the other hand his best friend is Scorpius who is part of the family of now past death eater Draco. Scorpius is nothing like Malfoy family he is kind hearted and very knowledgeable like Hermione. Scorpius is constantly looked down too not as a legacy but because people believe that he is not the son of Draco but of Voldemort. Then there are fathers Harry and Draco. Harry on one hand is trying to manage his son but somehow cannot live up to his sons expectation. Whereas Draco just wants his son to be happy and the rumors about him being son of Voldemort to be removed so that his son can live a free life.

Albus who feels he is a constant disappointment as a son over hears Amos Diggory father of Cedric Diggory complain to Harry as Cedric was just a spare and he should get the Time Turner and bring back Cedric as Cedric did not deserve to die. Then accompanying Amos is Delphi  who encourages Albus to meet her. Tired of living like this and having a bad relation with his father Albus along with Scorpius he leaves the train and travels to Amos’s old age home and meets Delphi and they travel. The steal the Time turner from Hermione’s library with Scorpius solving all the riddle.

Then meddling with Time Turner constantly as it only allows 5 minutes into the past leads to many changes.

  • Cedric dies again and in the next becomes a death eater.
  • Ron and Hermione although who love each other are never married and Ron is married to someone else.
  • Hermione is cruel and a strict teacher.
  • Rose and Hugo are never born.
  • Albus is in Griffindor.

No matter what these two do the future  is not what they wish to be and slowly the dark lord is gaining power and is rising.

It is a beautiful book with lots of craziness. If you have read the Harry Potter series then this book will make you wonder what if. In the end the book is about fathers and sons who have to rekindle their relationship.

The only disappointment for me was the end part where Harry witnesses everything again. If the book could include Hagrid’s visit to Godric’s  Hollow and how he talks with young Harry why wasn’t the part where Severus coming to the house and crying over Lily’s dead body included ? I personally felt that it should have been there .

A beautiful play/book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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