[783]: What Makes Us by Rafi Mittlefehldt


What Makes Us

by Rafi Mittlefehldt

You’re seventeen years old. You’re conscious of all the social injustices in your world. You do your best to take part, in fact, you even start a protest. You’re not afraid to speak your mind. But on the very first protest you led, a counter protest almost ended badly. But then one of the reporters present figured out who you are, who your parents are. From there, the secrets of who your real father was revealed. All your life you never knew. You didn’t know that your father was a known terrorist who set off an explosion during a parade in New York City, killing 4 people and injuring more.

But your mother hid you. Changed your identity in an attempt to escape the guilt, the blame, the consequences of your father’s actions. Until all was revealed.

This is the story of Eran and how in one single moment of impulsive anger had changed his life, made him question who he was and how much of him was his father. Will he follow his father’s footsteps? Or will set himself on his own path?

This was a tough read. I saw anger in all sides, ignorance, and reluctant forgiveness in some. A mistake that started 15 years ago blew up in something that could’ve been catastrophic. It’s sad, really. To blame a boy who was only two years old when his father committed a heinous act, then try to accuse the mother of having knowledge of her deceased husband’s plans, and therefore should be guilty.

I felt Eran’s isolation and anger at the world, especially at his mother for keeping that secret. He became lost and unsure of who he was in a span of a day. I felt his shame and guilt; his hurt for seeing his entire neighborhood shun them and attempt to drive them off the city. I also felt the moment he questioned and doubted his mother’s culpability, to his shame, when all she tried to do was to save him from people’s judgement.

What Makes Us made me think about the world outside my home. That even though I often found myself lost in the commentary section of political debates, it’s not enough and a complete waste of time, to be honest. It also made me think about truth, justice, and how far I will go if I ever find myself in Eran’s mother’s shoes.

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[729]: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Words in Deep Blue
by Cath Crowley
Publication Date: June 6th, 2017
Stand Alone
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Dude. Aussie authors are awesome. I’ve been a fan of Cath Crowley when I read Graffiti Moon many moons ago. Ever since then, I’ve waited upon bated breath for each of her brilliant books. Sadly, I’ve only ever read one other book of hers (A Little Wanting Song) so I was freaking excited to learn that Words in Deep Blue was being released in North America as well. Man, she’s awesome. I’m convinced that she drinks in the same fountain of brilliance as my beloved Melina Marchetta. Sigh.

As a book lover, I can only recall one instance when I didn’t enjoy a book set in a bookstore. 99% of the time, romances that start and were cultivated in this consecrated ground is a huge draw. I suppose it’s like being in familiar space, mingling with the familiar crowds. But ultimately, it’s the characters prowling the aisles that draw us in. The deep thinkers, the romantics, and the lover of words make for an interesting cast.

Well, there wasn’t a shortage of such characters in Words in Deep Blue. Henry, for example, is a combination of a romantic (albeit, a little blind) and a lover of the written word. His family owns the bookstore that just so happens to have The Letter Library; a special shelf of books containing personal notes left by people looking to connect, reconnect or simply write letters to the void. Horrifyingly enough, the notes are written within the pages of the books.

One of these books contained a letter left for Henry by Rachel. A girl who has loved Henry from afar. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Because she moved away soon after she realized Henry either never got the message or ignored her completely. Fast forward to a few years and Rachel was not the same person. Dealing with the grief of losing her brother and losing track of what’s left of her family. In the meantime, Henry was also going through a tumult of changes in his life. His girlfriend unexpectedly broke up with him and his parents just announced that they’re selling the bookstore.

The thing about these Australian authors is that they’re able to tap into the emotions that would make their stories even more poignant, you know? I can’t figure out what it is, but for some reason, I’m always left raw by the time I flip to the last page. Regardless of whether or not it had an HEA. The same goes for this book. I vacillated between sadness, happiness, anger, and deep annoyance throughout the entire process.

It is, by all sense of the word, a book about grief and how to deal. In Rachel’s case, she simply stopped living the same  could be said of her mother. It’s like they forgot how to since the death of her brother. In Henry’s case, it’s the death of relationships. His and his parents. It took me a bit to forgive Henry for being so hung up on his ex when his ex clearly didn’t give a shit but Rachel’s reintroduction in his life slowly helped him somehow.

There are bits of poignant stories in the background as well. Through The Letter Library, we are introduced to people and their stories of heartbreaks, lost loves, and second chances. Truly, Cath Crowley belongs in the annals of prolific Aussie writers that crosses borders and oceans. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time and I will continue to look forward to her books in years to come.

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[728]: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks
by Emily Barr
Publication Date: January 12th, 2017
Stand Alone
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

This book was repetitive af. But then again, that was the point. I suppose it only makes sense when you have a character who goes through a memory reset of sorts as soon as she falls asleep. And such is the state of Flora Banks’ life.

It’s odd, disconcerting, and sad as hell. I actually felt bad for Flora. It’s tough navigating through life without a memory of what happened the day before. So she writes these little reminders for herself. Also, with her memory as frail as it is, what kind of parents would leave her alone?! I mean, I get that they have another child that was in a perilous medical emergency but come on. Leaving her in the care of another teen is simply irresponsible. Especially when Flora ended up being alone for the duration of their being away due to some unforeseen events.

So her brain doesn’t have a great memory bank to begin with. Anything she does the day before she forgets. But when she kisses this boy, the memory stuck. What does our Flora do? She goes off on her own to find this boy (who, by the way was her bff’s boyfriend) in the Arctic, no less! The freaking ARCTIC, yo. As a mom, I was terrified for her. The lengths she went through to find this boy was just insanity. I also get that this lone memory of her kissing the boy was sort of an anchor she held on to, but grrrl. GRRRL. Seriously. Who does that?! I cannot with this girl.

Back to the repetitive nature of this book, it was really a great representation of her brain disorder. She’s like, Dory, ya know? So she reads this notebook of her life that her mom wrote for her every morning so she’ll remember who she is. But still. It got tiresome so fast that I started skimming as soon as she starts rehashing her life like a Groundhog Day that never ends. Flora also has this uncanny child-like voice. Since she hasn’t been able to hold a memory since she was 10 years old, her describing what went on between her and the boy left me feeling a little strange.

In the end, the book didn’t do it for me. I vacillated between horrification at her parents who left her alone, and strange wonder at a girl who was brave enough to go after the one thing that made her feel “normal” for once.

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