I did a lot of reading over the holidays because there is nothing I love more than getting lost in a different world, or maybe one similar, or learning, or feeling and experiencing. Here are the books I read and why I loved them.
When you start reading, the way everything is said on the page is what will strike you first – it really is beautiful to read. But ultimately, I love this book because of the message it portrays. Stargirl is different and nobody understands how she can stray from what is expected and be so effortlessly herself. Every single time I read this book I am emotionally hit with how much it hurts me to watch how Stargirl is shunned for simply being different and loving being that way. I think it is scary that we are so afraid of what is new, or different. So afraid and unsure that the only way we know how to deal with the thing is to shun it, mock it, pretend it isn’t real – for if it isn’t like us, like the rest of “them”, then it just could not possibly be real, right? I think Spinelli weaves together not only a beautifully written story, but a courageous tale of being yourself. I cannot use my words to speak as of highly of this book as I really want to. It will make you angry, it’ll upset you, it’ll make you smile but it will ultimately make you question everything you ever believed to be true. Stargirl is a novel that does that to me each time I read it. It makes me question everything that I thought was comfortable and real and brave. Stargirl shakes the ground and makes you want to dance in the rain and wear long, floor length yellow dresses. My favourite quote is: “You’ll know her more by your questions than by her answers. Keep looking at her long enough. One day you might see someone you know.”
I finished this little book in all of one day. I zoomed through it, unable to stop myself. Big Fish is a book based partly on myths, partly on lies and partly on truth…but it is all charm. Ultimately, it tells the story of the relationship between William Bloom and his father the extraordinary man, Edward Bloom as he tries to discover who his father really is and was behind all his stories. I love when people write about magical realism, where most of the story is based in some sort of reality but parts of it are just so other-worldly. That was this book. It was just so fun to read. I liked the idea that when you finish the book you still don’t really know if any of the stories were true – it is left up to your imagination. It felt like a mythic tale written by Homer during the time of Odysseus and Achilles. And I think, that what really caught me was that this little book really had the heart at its core. It kind of asks the question of will any of us really know, truly who are parents are? I talked to my mum about it and I said, don’t you think it’s interesting that you’ve known me my whole life, you birthed me, but before my life began you had a life all of your own and I know nothing about it? I wasn’t there but you were. My favourite quote is: “You’re not necessarily supposed to believe it…You’re just supposed to believe in it.”
This whimsical tale is just as magical as all the things Barrie writes. Essentially the story is about a relationship between a man and a family. It tells of how he comes to love and care for their young son, David while taking you on a magical journey. It felt hugely like the characters were influenced by Barrie himself and I was reading his personal journal. But I really enjoyed it. I liked that it felt like Barrie was just sort of talking to me. I especially loved the chapters about adventures in Kensington park and Peter Pan. They were so sweet and wonderful to read. But sometimes there were parts where I was sort of unsure what was going on and it felt like they were pandering too far from the plot. But, I did really enjoy reading this and I love the imagery and imagination Barrie evokes into you and from you. My favourite quote is: “But how she suffers so he may achieve! I have seen him climbing a tree while she stood beneath in unutterable anguish; she had to let him climb, for boys must be brave, but I am sure that, as she watched him, she fell from every branch.”
This book was so wonderfully weird, quirky and strange. Oliver Tate is 15 and trying to navigate the world around him. I have never laughed so hard at a book before this one. Oliver’s internal and external commentary on the world around him is so, so, so funny and so realistic of a teenage boy. It was so interesting to read his ramblings because it felt like he was really just thinking, like his stream of consciousness had been splashed out onto the page and I really loved that. It can be a little descriptive sometimes like when it talks of all his teenage encounters with girls and his first time having sex. But ultimately it is about him trying to navigate the world and figure out who he is. It has themes of family at its core and what Oliver will do to keep said family together and functioning more or less in his wacky astute fashion. And there were so many good one liners! Oliver says so many funny things. My favourite being: “I could marry a man like Graham. He’s a provider. I am drunk and sentimental. He speaks truth.”
Insightful, clever, funny, passionate, purposeful and incredibly eye-opening. This book tells of the struggles faced by young girls every day and the pressures put on girls by society. It is straight forward and perceptively bringing sexism to a really eye-opening conclusion. What I really loved about it though was that it felt like a pal, a best friend. It didn’t beat around the bush but it also did not attack. I seriously loved it. It has sort of changed my life and made me think about things I have come to think of as “normal” which shouldn’t be. I would recommend this to anyone; my future daughter and son, my mum, sister, brother, friend…a stranger on the street. I think everyone should read it and we might think differently about how our world works at the present moment. My favourite chapter was probably “It’s My Face and I’ll smile If I Want to” and my favourite quote is: “Pretty much the strongest, most badass and rebellious thing that you can do is to love your body in this world that screams at you that you shouldn’t. It’s one of the ultimate ways to GIRL UP!”
Love Brecon X