Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I saw this book on my friend's bookshelf and immediately had to pick it up. Some books just do that to me. I don't know if it was the cover or the description of the book that made me do it. Whatever it was, I am glad I picked this book up.
Julia Alvarez fictionalizes the lives of four sisters in the Dominican Republic under the dictator Trujillo.They were involved in the resistance against him. I was horrified to hear that US, after leaving the Dominican Republic in the 1920s, gave Trujillo the right to rule knowing that he was a repeated rapist! The Mirabal Sisters slowly come to know of the atrocities committed by him as they are growing up and eventually end up in the secret movement against him. In the end, three of the four sisters - Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa were beaten to death after their car was ambushed by Trujillo's men. Dede alone survived. Known as "the butterflies", the sisters became beloved national heroines.
Julia Alvarez attempts to re-create the lives of the four sisters through this book. She read about the sisters and even managed to meet with Dede. But she decided to give the sisters a life of her own and made this book a fiction. I loved the way the book was written. Each chapter is narrated by a different sister. Dede's has a present and a past version. Maria Teresa's section are just pages from her diary. Through these bits and pieces, we get to know the four sisters. Each one of them so unique- and yet, somehow, all so similar.
From their accounts, it becomes obvious who would enter the movement first - Minerva; the girl with the courage to slap Trujillo when he makes a move on her at a party. When you can go that far, joining the resistance movement against him cannot be much farther, can it? Slowly, Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva are neck deep in the resistance movement. The religious Patria seems to be the least likely to involve herself in this but she finds her own way of joining in the movement. Dede however doesnt involve herself too much because of her husband Jaime and his political views. By the time she decides to get involved with her sisters, it is a little too late.
The book is definitely not perfect. Alvarez has faced many criticisms for attempting to humanize the idols. She has even been accused of being an "outsider" with no knowledge of the actual happenings. In addition, when I tried to google this book, i read some more about Trujillo's atrocities against Afro-Dominicans. alvarez doesn't mention anything about that in the book.
Despite all that, I loved the book. I am glad she made that effort to bring to light the story of 'the butterflies'. The world definitely deserves to know more about them!
This was a perfect time for me to read this book. November 25 is observed as "The International Day Against Violence Towards Women". It was on this day in 1960 that the Mirabal sisters were killed.
I highly recommend this book.. It was a very interesting read!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
I must say that this is a pretty interesting tale and I definitely enjoyed reading it. Here’s the part that I found hard to accept – this is not a fiction. This is a memoir! Yes! Beth Russell, who accompanied her friend Alex to
At the risk of offending the author and anyone who happens to accept this memoir for what it is, I HAVE to say that I had too many issues with the story line. I can understand Alex’s nervousness when she is handed the baby in
Somehow, I felt that Beth made no attempt to assuage her fears about adopting the baby and rather promptly announced that if Alex didn’t need the baby, she would take it! And then she proceeds to bond with the baby. When Alex has doubts about giving it away, Beth allows her to bond with the baby but makes no effort to hide the fact that she is upset that Alex might change her mind! To top that, the whole dream sequence feels like something straight out of a Bollywood movie. For the uninitiated, “Bollywood” refers to the thriving film industry of
Well, here’s the deal. Beth is a good writer. I liked her style of writing and enjoyed the book. If it were a fiction novel, I would have even praised it and recommended it to everyone who is actually reading this post. But unfortunately, the only issue that I have with this book is a big one. It is a memoir and I cannot understand how it can be one!
One thing I must mention though is the fact that I absolutely loved the cover of this book - the white motifs on those tiny blue shoes in the palms of an adult - fascinating picture and very very appealing. Someone please tell me that it is not actually a memoir and I will feel so much better!
If you have read this book and completely disagree with me, I would love to hear your views. Agree with me? Please tell me that I am not the only one to feel this way!Haven’t read this book? What do you think? Would you want to give this a shot? What are your reactions to this review?
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Richard Wagamese is a native Indian living in
The book is divided into 4 parts to demarcate the four stages in his life. Each part consists of many chapters is an incident – a snippet – written in short story format. These stories were originally published in the newspaper columns he wrote as “One Native Life”. And somehow, the chapters flow together, the parts flow together and we have the well written story of one man’s life.
Here is the description of his book in his own words (from his blog):
I loved the Wagamese’s style of writing and I loved the content of his book even more! As Wagamese looks back on his life, what is amazing is not how much he has learnt/ done. What is amazing is the way he has learnt it and his teachers. Wagamese shows us the importance of simple living and the importance of bonding with nature. There is so much to learn from everything around us – even animals (“animal-people”, as the Ojibway referred to them). We drift from day to day without really observing things and people around us. Wagamese’s book showed me the importance of relishing every living moment. There’s a message from every “seemingly-mundane” incident - so much to observe and so much to learn.
I know for a fact that I am not doing justice to this review. I totally enjoyed the book and I wish you would pick it up sometime and enjoy it as much as I did as well. I had never heard of Wagamese until I found this book in my mail box and now I suddenly want to read every book of his ( I think, he’s written 4 novels and a memoir in addition to “One Native Life”).
To know more about Wagamese, you can visit his website – www.richardwagamese.com
I found a link to my favorite chapter in the whole book – one about making bannock. Something about this chapter totally appealed to me. I think it was the sense of belonging that he got when he baked bannock for the first time after getting the recipe from his mom. The sense that he was actually someone in this world – someone who belonged to a community, had something more than just a body and a name. Here is a link to this article. I am sure that’ll give a taste of the book:
Do read the book and tell me that you loved it too!:)
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The book says that it is about growing Iranian in
With an influx of immigrants into
She gets an opportunity to go to
The book is all about coming to terms with her identity.
In concept, it is a great book. I was really interested in finding out everything about her life in the
But after having said that, I really think that if you are interested in the concept of this book you should read it. There is a lot to learn about life in contemporary
If you have already read this book, I would love to hear your comments.