Asian Writers

June is dedicated to authors with ASIAN of books in this category will be posted all month....

Friday, December 19, 2014

Elizabeth Wein - Code Name Verity

I was troubled. Deeply. 
The book left me feeling melancholy and I found myself, at times in the middle of the night, musing about the heinous act against humanity that had taken place by the Nazis.

Any WWII book is not an easy read. And by that I mean the emotions run high and one has to fight back the tears that threaten to spill down the eyes. I wasn’t that strong so I let my tears run free, weeping for the protagonists and being awed by the valor shown my them.

The book is about two women who are best friends – Maddie and Julie – and are part of the ATA run by the British during WWII. The book has two parts. One is the journal/story of Julie (who has several names) as she is held captive as a POW by the Germans. The second part narrative is given by Maddie and is another journal. 

Julie’s journal - each page of which assures her another day on this planet - reveals her past and how she ended up in the hands of the Gestapo. It shows her human side, is filled with heart wrenching scenes and the struggle that she undergoes – to share the secrets of her mission in exchange at times for something as simple as ‘clothes’ and at times for an extension to her life. 

Maddie’s entry completes the story, fills in the holes and at times one has to reference back to Julie’s journal to get the complete story.

It’s a complex novel, of course there are flaws which can be ignored, but in the end one realizes that Julie’s story is not what it appears to be – or for that matter – Julie isn’t what see pretends to be.
It shows to what extent friends can go for each other for dignity, survival. Merely thinking about it sets the flood gates open for me.

Its one of those books that one cant write much about without giving up the story. So I will leave it at this.

The other characters play their parts well – the German side is also shown to have a certain amount of vulnerability leaving me wondering that not all Germans (Nazis) were inhuman, rather they were forced to act this way. And those that couldn’t suffered the same way as their victims.

There is a lot of details about planes and flying which a layman would find tough keeping up with and maybe forced to skip through. These don’t have a bearing on the story, it’s the authors experience as a pilot herself that shows through at these times.

The writing itself is very plain and both journals have the same tone as if written by the same person – a flaw which can be ignored.

Highly recommend this book but be warned that it will leave you feeling choked and both our leading ladies and especially Julie haunting presence will stay very long with the reader.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Louis Sachar - Holes

My amazing and too-good-to-be-true run of good books continues with "Holes".

Its a classic example of how a great story told simply can win so many hearts and minds - not just of children but of adults alike. (Yes - it is a children book but who says it cant be enjoyed my adults)

The narrative in simple English tells two tales - one of the present day in which Stanley (the protagonist) is wrongly accused and sent to a juvenile facility - and the other tale during the time of his great grandfather.  Both tales proceed independently and both are engrossing and in the end the author brilliantly interweaves the two stories together.

Perhaps the critics will say that the ending is too good to be true - a lot like a fairy tale - but in my opinion both Stanley and Zero (his friend/student from the correction facility) deserve it. Both the children have been portrayed in such loving colors - Stanley is the quintessential poor-overweight kid with a horrid luck and Zero is the underestimated kid who in the end surprises everyone.

All characters are memorable like the Warden of the juvenile facility who punishes by scratching her victims with poison laced nails to the Kissing Kate - the good Samaritan turned robber.Throughout the book I could empathize with Charlie and kept cheering for him, was amazed at his maturity and sensitivity (e.g. the fake letters to his mom) and his grounded reality. 

The story is about staying positive - even when everything around is crumbling and disintegrating. Where friends conspire against you and no one is truly on your side, when you cannot speak the truth to people you trust for fear of hurting them and you are alone in this world and the only thing that keeps you going is "hope. Its a message for both children and adult.
Its one of those books that I would love to read again with my son, when he is old enough.