The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – book review

When my cousin told me this book will make me cry, I knew then that I’d enjoy this. However, I did not expect to, not only enjoy this but to also, find myself, as cliche as that sounds. Khaled Hosseini spun a captivating tale of a boy and his friend growing up together amid a war within his nation and himself.

Amir is the persona recalling what his childhood was like and how he came to be. He’s a fortunate child raised by his widowed father and loved by the people around him. Despite having a stable and healthy life, he was envious of their servant’s son, Hassan. Hassan is known to be a Hazara while Amir, a Pashtun. Hazaras were treated to be so much lower than a Pashtun–ones who commanded the most power. During their time, both ethnic groups should not associate with one another. Regardless, Amir and Hassan were friends; they were inseparable.

Hassan, bless him, is pure, loyal to a fault. He says a line to Amir all the time when Amir asks him to do something: “For you a thousand times over.” And it truly reminds me of my grandfather. So courageous and kind. A soul so fragile and rare, it’s a wonder how you can have someone like him in your life. For being well-loved by the people around him as well, Amir yearns to be as much as regarded as Hassan was. Hence, when the opportunity presented itself, Amir took it and lost each other in the process.

I find it so mind-boggling when a line or phrase strikes you as if there’s some substance there you can’t quite grasp but it resonates with you. The line, “And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.” hit me. I read it as a quote somewhere before and didn’t give it much thought but reading it in the context of the story, it felt like I was seeing a reflection of myself somehow. It almost felt like a pat on the back to let you know that they understand you. And so it goes–I was drawn in.

More lines that struck a chord:

“I wish I could be alone in my room, with my books, away from these people.”

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

“And in the end the question that always came back to me was this: How could I, of all people, chastise  someone for their past?”

“‘Happiness like this is frightening.’ I asked her why and she said, ‘They only let you be this happy if they’re preparing to take something from you.'”

“But I hope you will heed this: A man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer.”

“And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir Jan, when guilt leads to good.”

“What had I done, other than take my guilt out on the very same people I had betrayed, and then try to forget it all? What had I done, other than become an insomniac?”

There were parts in the book that are too coincidental for it to be a reality. Then again, who is to say that it can’t happen? I’ve had plenty of coincidences–sometimes the world is just smaller than we think.

Hosseini splendidly crafted a moving plot yet there were moments when I felt that it would have been better if he let the characters breathe life into the story rather than manipulating them as to how he would like the story go. For instance, Amir was away from his wife for a month and he didn’t call even though he previously stated multiple times that he missed her. There was no mention that the character cannot call or anything and that’s odd to me since there is always something new mentioned. Maybe it’s just me but I figured that the little things that make up someone, as real as they can be, count.

Nonetheless, I find all the characters and the setting so charming. Tangible. Close to being raw. I was weeping and yet I couldn’t imagine the pain–what it really was in reality. I’m ashamed to say I don’t know much about the history of Afghans but I wish to learn more, and from this, I got a taste of it.


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – book review


F. Scott Fitzgerald created a story showcasing beautiful lives of the wealthy and how it’s all a facade to keep dirty laundry hidden from pestering eyes and circulating rumors.

“Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I saw him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

Fitzgerald’s prose is beautiful and lyrical as if he breathed life into the words and they sigh and laugh amid the sparkling hundreds at Gatsby’s glamorous parties or at the solemn ash heaps beyond the city. In a few sentences, he was able to present how thrilling Gatsby’s parties were; how grand it is to be among the crowd, dancing and drinking classy wine, and I find that truly magical. Moreover, he showed the crummy part of the country; how there were significant racial differences and an emphasis on the contrast between the rich and the penniless.

His characters are so amusing yet interesting to behold. They are all proud, strong-willed and alluring. Nick Carroway–the narrator of what took place during the summer–is a man who met overwhelming people in a short amount of time; hence, he was swept off his feet into their hedonistic lives. On the other hand, Jay Gatsby is a man who has been at his lowest; however, he still dreams and grasps hope with his bare hands. The other characters are selfish careless airheads who only know how to carry themselves with their noses up high and to scram before their scandals are revealed. It was pretty poetic for Fitzgerald to show the seemingly attractive yet outrageous affairs of the Buchanans through a spectator.

The plot deserves a gold medal as well. I liked how it was all fast-paced but you could clearly feel the slow-burning tension and the rhythm of the story as it progresses to its end. It felt like watching lively flames end into dying embers and the rest becomes smoke.

I’m not bothered in the slightest that the characters are so unlikable and I don’t particularly understand how it’s The Great American novel; nonetheless, I would solely reread it for Fitzgerald’s writing.

A post-it with cramped typewritten letters for the 12:48 am dreamers

A post-it with cramped typewritten letters for the 12:48 am dreamers

Write for the love of all great things you’ve always been fond of. Write for the trees, the most flexible gymnasts, who stretch their arms to cover you beneath the glaring sun. Write for the sun who has spent millions of years on warming us, always by the bleachers or behind the grumbling ocean. Write for the people that cry themselves to sleep, out of heartbreak, out of hunger for peace and quiet amongst the series of bombarding missile attacks. Write for that past, present or future that got away. Write for the anger it pained you. Write for the acceptance it brought you. Write for the children, adults and all of us homo sapiens who still seek for the honesty and understanding in a world of prejudice and sickness. Write for yourself. For your faults fated to happen. For your baby steps to keep going and striving to live life. For that cheesy praise, ‘live life to the fullest,’ to come true. Write to unlatch the string, rope, or chain you’ve kept around yourself because you think you’re not good enough to get out of it. Write to get out of the boundaries you’ve easily settled in. Write to see pumpkins, snow, fireplaces, sea-turtles, waterfalls, easter eggs, fireworks, with fresh eyes. Write with a passionate gleam in your eyes. Write while slurring your words into a drunken call. Write with an enthusiasm as amusing as your off-tune karaoke voice. Write with what you have. Write, just write. It doesn’t have to be prim and proper and right. It has to be with words you’d be glad your grandfather leaves coffee stains on while he rereads it right beside your children’s snoring selves.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – book review

This phenomenal story is not something to be taken lightly and it’s well known to never expect this brightly woven tale akin to a heartwarming one. Alas, I hadn’t got a clue when I immersed myself into it.

By reading this, my moral compass has been prodded and poked, none too gently. It’s a wonder how you’d expect where the plot is going but it steeply turns to the left, never going the way you had anticipated.

Richard Papen, one of the students in New England or Hampden College who takes Greek Literature, narrates the story. During his stay there, he recalls significant encounters that affected his physical and psychological state. When he met Julian Morrow, a seemingly charming professor, and his captivating Greek pupils, his life takes an exciting turn. They have accepted him into their lives full of spider-webbed secrets, murder, and essentially, evil.

From the beginning, I was already interested to see where the story goes. I knew there was horror lurking around and I wanted to see what initiated it. I did not prepare myself for such blatant behavior that led to events I was startled to wonder how improbable yet feasible the events may be. I’d rather not say any more; albeit I have a lot I cannot word out as eloquently and bluntly as Richard did.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – book review

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is an extraordinary novel that bursts of magic, friendship, and bravery. I was swept by the world full of possibilities Pullman has created and I can’t help but marvel at the journey he laid out.

The story follows Lyra Belacqua, a precocious girl left in the care of priests in Jordan College where she enjoys clambering the roofs and exploring dark crypts of the ancient buildings. From there, her story escalates into a series of unimaginable adventures and unexpected encounters. Her world is in accordance with the laws of magic, theology, and science that she is destined to get tangled and be a major player in whether she liked it or not. Hence, no matter the consequences of her dangerous path she would fight for what is right to no end.

I think one of the themes that touched me the most was the bravery Lyra presented. It’s so admirable of her to continue even when she’s tempted to give up; even when she’s at a loss. Her characterization is much more developed than the other characters that I was able to understand how much weight she’s carrying on her shoulders and how young she still is.

Furthermore, the other characters were amusing to read especially Lee Scoresby, the aeronaut. I liked how he keeps it simple and real even though his job isn’t something as simple. I also liked how you wouldn’t expect anything from the characters; they’ll surprise you, anger you, and keep you on your toes. Everyone was entertaining to read and I hope to see them again in the second book.

The plot is so fast-paced that in a blink of an eye everything changes and I had to backtrack sometimes because I couldn’t believe something happened and then you’d just want to continue and see what happens next until you’re in the next chapter, then the next, and so on. Also, the very first chapter was so interesting I just knew it would be a great book and it was!

There were a few flaws, however, that made me question how probable this book is but then it is a fantasy book and I think I was just in shock on how unbelievable the plot twists are. There were so many that unfolded in the story and it was immensely overwhelming–although not confusing–and I think that’s why it’s very appealing to children and adults.

I’m delighted I finally got around to reading this book, it’s been bugging me that I have not. This is a book of strange yet engaging creatures and different yet familiar worlds that will leave unforgettable adventures in your memory and make you want for more.

The Devil’s Backbone by Kim Wozencraft – book review

A friend recommended this to me and I’d say this is the strangest book I’ve read for quite a long time. It’s no doubt interesting but it still left me with a couple of questions and I’m not satisfied. Nonetheless, it’s easily a page-turner that kept me on the edge of my seat.

The story is centered on Kit, a woman who works as a stripper for a living. Her past is full of certain experiences that left her traumatized and it’s caused her to be uneasy of the present. She tries to forget it with all the booze she consumes but it doesn’t cease to haunt her day by day. As the ghosts of her past progressed, so does the secrets and surprises unfold.

The characters, Kit especially, felt kind of flat. They weren’t given any background; it was all snippets or indications on what must have been a bittersweet childhood. The dialogue seems kind of forced, it just seemed like they should say it because they portray a bitter cop or a terrified businesswoman. I just didn’t see any development in the characters; they all portrayed the same emotions in practically all chapters, hence, I couldn’t connect to them.

However, the fast-paced plot made up for the mediocre characterization. The introduction started a bit slow but the action quickly escalated that each page felt like the climax of the story. I really enjoyed the build-up–it was consistent and it kept me curious to know how it ends. Although, when I did reach the end I didn’t expect to be disappointed. It only made me question myself if the book was even worth my time because I ended up with more questions. It was an open ending that usually would be all good for me but it felt as if there is still a missing chapter Wozencraft got lazy to write.

I’d still recommend this to anyone looking for a quick–though quite heavy–read. I liked how the characters could be, at times, relatable. Also, major points to the plot; it swept me and all I could do was keep reading.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – book review

My Philosophy teacher once mentioned to the class that we’d discuss this book, thus, when I heard this I was more motivated to pick this up. But alas, we weren’t able to; we didn’t have enough time. Although honestly, this book should be given the time of day to be read and talked about over a cup of coffee.

Morrie Schwartz is a retired professor yet he still continues to teach millions of people every time someone opens this book. The narrator, Mitch Albom, is a student and a close friend of his back in Brandeis University. However, they lost contact after graduation and they only reconnected when Morrie was several weeks from dying.

Morrie’s an old man who gave Albom tips he’s learned throughout his years to be happier. Meanwhile, Mitch Albom is just like any of us who made mistakes and was so caught up with tangible things. He says everything as it is, he doesn’t sugar-coat how horrible ALS is, how the disease can make anyone suffer. Despite being sick, Morrie didn’t let himself feel dejected, in fact, he was in high spirits until the end. His conversations with Mitch are so moving but also so poignant simply because of how much truth there is in his words. I loved how it was so easy for Morrie to share stories; how easy it was for him to be so friendly and generous to just about anyone. It’s rare to find–let alone have someone like him as a teacher.

Mitch Albom learned a lot from him and I learned alongside so I could see why this book has a lot of recognition; I’d say it deserves more. He has created a simple yet awe-inspiring “final thesis” and I’m glad I got to know Morrie through him. He was loved, he was taken care of, and he will be remembered.