Tag Archives: Childhood

“The locust and the bird. My mother’s story” by Hanan Al-Shaykh

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I absorbed the book. It’s my first book by Al-Shaykh and I bet it is not going to be the last. Her writing is as honest and truthful as the crystal water of a mountain river. Listening to and making public the story of one’s mother is brave because it requires introspection and forgiveness of all.

The story of Kamila, Hanan’s mother, is both unique and telling of an era and society dominated by religious patriarchs. Forced child marriage, an early pregnancy, abandonment, dependence and poverty marked Kamila’s life, yet it did not bend her free spirit. She was illiterate, yet her wisdom is deeper than the prescriptions of many scholars. She had no social security, yet her wit and survival instinct enabled her to see all her children into adulthood through the turmoil of war and social change of her country.

I am humbled by the story. And similar stories of million of women who remain anonymous, yet without which we would not be standing here and now.

“An elephant in the garden” by Michael Morpurgo

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My child recommended this book to me. I loved it. Such a good story line.

With the war in the background of the story, the author puts empathy towards humans and animals at the forefront. It is the story of an ordinary German family from Dresden, who saved an young elephant from being killed before the city’s bombings by allies. Their refuge to west to meet the Americans was filled with hurdles, yet a certain magic enveloped them: “we must have been a strange sight for those who caught sight of us: Peter and I, stomping along together ahead, an elephant behind us with two or three children aboard, and, following them, Mutti and her cavalcade of signing children”.

This is a good book for small and big, to be read aloud on a long winter night. To remind ourselves about forgiveness and resilience.

“The single ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village” by Joanna Nell

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That was a fun reading. Light and thoughtful, loving and self-ironic. An introspective and retrospective view into inter and intra-generational relationships. An ode to youthful playful souls even when the replaced knees and pacemakers demand otherwise.

“Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine“ by Gail Honeyman

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When I finished the book, I wanted to start reading it again. It delighted my soul. I laughed and I shed a tear, as I traveled in Eleanor’s shoes through her good days and bad days. It’s a good reading for those who believe in empathy and for those who want to give it a try.

The story touches one of the tabu’s in many societies – a mother’s violence against her own children. And the ensuing guilt of the child who tries not to upset her violent mother, even as an adult, even in her own imagination… And all it takes to overcome it – friends, a cat, a good boss and permission to say “enough is enough”.

My favorite line I’ll take with me: “It was such a strange unusual feeling – light, calm, as though I’d swallowed sunshine.”

“Good night stories for rebel girls” by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavalo

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I would recommend it as a good night reading by adults for children. Read it aloud to your child, even if he/she can read.

For me this book is an illustration of leading by example. And I do not see it only for girls. We can all learn from examples of tenacity, courage in face of adversity, faith in good, friendship, perspiration, relentlessness, creativity and many other beautiful manifestations of humanity.

“Wow, no thank you.” by Samatha Irby

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Upfront disclaimer: the book is not for puritans. You have to have a certain level of tolerance for f* and b* words, as well as of naked truth about body fluids.

By far, Samantha Irby is the epitome of self-irony, sarcasm and humanity combined. She describes her book “Meaty” as « a gross book about a dumb slut”. How many of us have the guts to be that open?

Some essays will make you laugh loudly, some are a honest truth about the life of a black gay in the States, sitting on the luggage of a disturbed childhood. Samantha’s writing style reflects all that and more. Her stories are not about her past only. I see them as manifestos of future aspirations. There is more than meets the eye, they say, and that’s what I saw in “Wow, no thank you.”

“What I loved” by Siri Hustvedt

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“What I loved” is a work of fiction rooted in research on human behaviour in a variety of disciplines. Leo, the narrator and one of main characters, tells us the story of his family and his closest friend’s family in the decor of the art world of New York.

The human tragedies entangle in seemingly distinct yet interconnected stories. Female and male friendships, the integrity of art dealerships and the father-son relationship will touch any reader’s mind in a sophisticated way, infused with the sadness of human failure to love one another.