This is the second book by Asne Seierstad I read. “Two Sisters” is her sixth book. Released in Norway in November 2016, it became the bestselling book of the year, and won the prestigious Brageprisen.
The book is about the journey of two Somali sisters from Norway into the jihad in Syria. The author did a tremendous job to reconstruct the scenes as accurately as possible, which is not at all an easy task. In literary journalism the accuracy depends almost entirely on sources and in this case there were scattered, plentiful and fragmented. If you are interested in the methodology the author applied, read the post-face.
The “entire world is trying to understand the reasons for radicalization among Muslim youth” and this is the impetus of the book. As the author herself puts it: “There is no single explanation, but one can point to several factors, including the search for identity, meaning, and status; the desire to belong; the influence of others; excitement; the need to rebel; and romantic notions.”
Imagine waking up one morning and reading an email from your daughters saying “We have decided to travel to Syria to help out down there the best we can … . It was painful to read about the struggles of the father who travelled to Syria to bring back his daughters and who gave it up failure after failure of rescuing them. It was even more painful to read about how judgmental or indifferent humans can be in the face of a family’s tragedy. This book is a must-read for parents and guardians. As children grow and start interacting more with circles outside the family the vigilance must increase.
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth?” in this world. A watch of a grand father for the life of a young boy?
This is not an easy reading, as it permeates with human suffering beyond understanding. The plot unfolds in soviet Lithuania of 1941 and takes us on the forced journey of a Lithuanian family to Altai and, then next to the arctic circle. The unbelievable hurdles they go through and their stamina are humbling.
I lived in the soviet Union in the years of its glory and we knew nothing about the price people paid to build the infrastructure and resources we benefited from. It took years for the veil over repressions, forced labour, mass deportation to come down after the fall of the Berlin wall.
I am grateful to authors like Sepetys who do the research, talk to people who lived through it all and then put it on paper for us to read, even as historical fiction.
Yet another wonderful piece from the author of “Chocolat“. I enjoyed reading both. Harris’ pen manages to touch my inner chords by her distinguished touch to all that makes us human: our fears, our hopes, our pain, our aspirations. Her characters feel alive. And the scenery is vivid as we glance through the pages of the book, even on a Kindle. I could easily relate to the characters of this novel, especially Boise (i.e. Framboise).
The story, told by Boise, develops on a small farm run by a widow battling mental health issues, while raising her three children, against the WWII background in rural France. I loved that Harris chose to narrate events through the eyes of a nine year old. War, violence, relationships, food, housework – they all look different to children and adults need to learn to respect that. The story line is on rewind and forward, from Boise’s childhood to her adulthood, to remind us not to judge by appearances, as we never fully know what others went through.
The book is a hilarious and honest take on human behaviour in romantic relationships. The authors – Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo – take turns for different gender perspectives. It is fun to read how they agreed to disagree on a number of topics.
Both authors worked in the “Sex and the city” TV series and its fans will find many commonalities with the series.
“… it’s never going to be good news if you have to think of your relationship in terms of “waiting for him”. He is not a stock you’re supposed to be investing in. He’s a man who’s supposed to be available enough to talk to you, see you, and perhaps fall madly in love with you”. I find this equally valid for “waiting for her” 🙂
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.”
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