Book Review 5 – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I’ve finally come “of age” (as my mother likes to tell me) to read this book, and I am so glad that I did.

Right from the beginning it is clear that there is a special bond between Amir, the son of a wealthy Afghan businessman, and Hassan is his servant’s son – but Hosseini’s real talent is crafting a wholly unknown bond between the Amir and Hassan and adding twists and turns to the plot. The exotic scents of Kabul were only a backdrop for this amazing novel, and even when the Soviets invaded and the Taliban took control of the country and Amir moved to California and started a new life there, his regret of what he did on a fateful day in Kabul eventually led him back to his home country for a sort of redemption and forgiveness of himself. There are so many life lessons in this story, which is what makes it so unbelievably powerful. My favorite aspect of the entire novel would be the way Hosseini pieced together the novel so perfectly – I loved how moments at the beginning tied together well with moments and dialogue near the end and in the middle of the story. Let’s just say that I had some major aha moments.

From start to finish, this was an amazing novel that kept me hooked – I couldn’t put it down and had to know what happened next! It’s really hard to review this book without giving much away, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning the real story of the war-ravaged country of Afghanistan, and who enjoys novels about friendship and inner forgiveness.

“There is a way to be good again.” – Rahim Khan

“For you, a thousand times over.” – Hassan

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Environmental Writing 1 – Barren

This isn’t really a poem, essay, story, book review, or writing tip, exactly. I decided to experiment with a new genre: environmental writing. It is quite poetic, however,  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the description and that you imagine a scene in your head similar to the one that was in front of me when I wrote this.

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The sun casts its shadow over the entire scene, illuminating the blades of dry yellow grass. Dragonflies and other bugs fly in and out through the blades, unsure where to land, endlessly in flight. They mimic the path of the helicopter as it flies in circles around the dry, barren scene for a few minutes, and then decide to fly like the birds soaring overhead.

The two birds admire the semicircle-shaped scene; one of them lets out a soft cawing noise as it nears the edge, disappearing into the trees that surround the semicircle of grass. The trees, green and with many leaves, are the only spots of color in the barren landscape aside from the overhanging mud brick roofs of houses peaking out form beneath the trees. They are puffy, as though someone has inflated them with air – leaves reflecting the heat of the sun.

The blades of grass whip around by sudden gusts of wind, and each blade has its own distinctive shade and size – bright yellow, dull yellow, rusty brown, and dark brown.

Aside from the occasional whirring of helicopters and the faint rushing of cars, the only other noise surrounding the scene is the crunch of gravel as pedestrians walk along the winding path through the trees and the rustle of paper – man coexisting with nature. The only alteration to the harmony of the scene is a small field of green grass in the distance, a stark contrast to the barren brown of dry yellow grass dug out from the land. The contrast is striking where the sun streaks across the blades of grass, creating a patchwork of colors.

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Book Review 4 – The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

First, a powerful quote:

“Things usually work out in the end.”

“What if they don’t?”

“That just means you haven’t come to the end yet.”

It’s amazing how a family that was so dysfunctional can still warm your heart. The Walls family, as cataloged in Jeanette Walls’s groundbreaking memoir, The Glass Castle, did all that and more. Right from the very beginning, I was astounded at the kind of family that the author herself grew up in – at some parts throughout the novel I had to remind myself that it was actually a memoir and not fiction.

Jeanette’s father, when he was sober, possessed innumerable knowledge about physics, the cosmos, and how to live life – but when he was drunk, he nearly shattered his family’s hearts into pieces. Her mother didn’t see the value in caring for children, and encouraged them to fend for themselves (I was thinking – why would she even have kids?). Jeanette recounts her first memory when she burned herself while she was cooking a hot dog – when she was THREE YEARS OLD. Yes, that’s right. And after she got better (and her dad pulled her out of the hospital), her mother  encouraged her to  continue cooking, saying something like (this is not a direct quote) “you need to face your fears.”

From the beginning, I knew this book was going to make me experience a roller coaster of emotions, but I was ready.

The Walls family was always running from something – Jeanette and her siblings Brian, Maurine and Lori, don’t even recall the number of houses they have lived in. When Jeanette was younger, they moved between desert towns in Arizona and California, but when she got older, her family ran out of money and resorted to living in the dreary town of Welch, WV where her grandmother lived. The only beacon of hope was their father’s promise to build a Glass Castle, an engineering feat with high glass ceilings and stunning architecture. This never happened, of course, and one by one, all of his children lost faith in him – except Jeanette.

As the Walls siblings learn to stick together and face challenges such as not having enough to eat, they eventually make their way to New York City to pursue their own dreams, leaving their parents behind in the dust. When their parents decide to follow their children to the city, they become homeless – a heartbreaking moment for the children, but there is nothing they can do about it.

Even in the midst of it all, the family still stuck together.

Contrary to its premise, this book was amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone who has experienced or is experiencing love of some kind. I don’t normally read memoirs as I often find them dull and simply a recount of a person’s life, but this memoir was much more than that, and it touched me in a way I can’t fully express.

This book will make you laugh and cry out in disbelief, and that is why it is so amazing.

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Poem 3 – Him & Her

Part 1: Him

Eyes downcast,

Staring at what he had lost –

Imagining what he could have become

staring at the image of his

lost son

wishing life might have turned

out differently.

Wishing the he was the image,

and his son was

gazing down at him.

Wishing –

yet not accepting

reality.

Part 2: Her

Although she only had

one leg,

she hoped for a better future,

unlike him;

imagining a world

where everyone could be free,

and she could spread her wings

and soar.

Raising her eyes to

the heavens,

she lifted her wings

and rose –

he was still

wishing.

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Book Review 3 – The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

As you’ve probably noticed, lately I’ve been in the mood for writing book reviews. I’ve just had a lot more time to read and I’m beginning to derive pleasure out of writing these reviews. So, without further ado, here’s my book review for The Lost Saint by Bree Despain!

The Lost Saint is actually the second book in a trilogy called the Dark Divine by Bree Despain, and focuses on the relationship between Grace Devine and Daniel Kalibi. I don’t want to give too much away, so this is going to be quite a short book review. But the book definitely deserves a review.

So. Back to the story. Daniel was a werewolf before Grace cured him (something that was deemed impossible, until she did it, earning her the name of The Divine One) but she is slowly falling under the influence of the wolf. This is because she got bitten by her brother, Jude, who had also turned into a werewolf. However, although the story doesn’t center on werewolves, there is this whole other side as well that involves a new character, Nathan Talbot. I’ll spare you the details, but basically Talbot (he insists that he be called by his last name throughout the book) helps Grace develop her new powers, when Daniel refuses to do this, in unexpected ways. Grace’s relationship with Daniel is eventually put at stake.

I greatly enjoyed the fast-paced, thrilling experience of reading this book, since it was full of suspense and action at almost every turn, but what disappointed me was Grace’s naivete. Don’t get me wrong, I love her determination and she’s cute and sweet, but she can be very innocent (and almost annoying) at times. Also, the whole let’s-tell-lies-because-we’re-boyfriend-and-girlfriend thing between her and Daniel did not bode well with me.

All in all, it was a good, but not great, read. I’d recommend it for a) those who have read the first book in the trilogy, The Dark Divine, or b) people who like supernatural teen romance novels in general.

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