NaNoWriMo 2017 – A Memoir

Oh boy. Here we go.

Yeah. My first ever NaNoWriMo was one thing and one thing only: a trainwreck. Okay, fine, maybe that’s unfair. One woman’s trainwreck is someone else’s triumph I guess. If you aren’t familiar, NaNoWriMo (or just NaNo, as it’s known in the “community”) stands for National Novel Writing Month. The essential objective is to write a 50000-word novel in the 30 days of November, and if you want to stay just on track, that means writing about 1667 words a day.

I failed miserably, in that respect. Just after the halfway point of the month, my novel was sitting at around 20700 words and I had completely lost touch with it. At that point, I thought to myself that this thing might have been easier to write from just one character’s perspective and if I’d actually had a super specific step-by-step plan (which I didn’t think I needed). Of course, I didn’t want to restart at the time because there was still half of the month to go and still a stupidly optimistic little part of me that thought I would be able to write 50000 words. By the way, off the record, 50000 is not a lot in novel world. However–and that is a big however– that is not at ALL to say that short novels don’t have the potential to be good. One of my all-time favourite books is The Giver by Lois Lowry, and its word count is 43617 words. The Great Gatsby, Fight Club, Fahrenheit 451, The Invisible Man, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy–all of these novels come up to just around 50000 as well. So there’s some evidence that quantity does not equal quality (and I’m a strong believer of that). But I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that these authors didn’t craft their novels in one month.

The point of NaNoWriMo, as far as I’m concerned, is to create a skeleton. Something that has the potential to be built upon and changed A LOT. In my opinion, you can’t come straight out of NaNo with an unedited 50000-word manuscript and start sending it to agents- that’s just not realistic. My novel was definitely an experiment. I started with an idea that had been fermenting in my brain for 2 years and made the mistake of thinking that I knew enough about my characters and their goals. Truth time: I didn’t! Not even a bit. There is nothing, nothing that could have prepared me to write this novel besides sitting down and blocking out a concrete action plan–which I didn’t do. That was mistake number one.

Mistake number two was going into it blind. I signed up for NaNo back in September and so I did try to participate in what they call “Preptober” where you plan for writing in the month of October–some people use this time to make cutesy little planners full of stickers and motivational quotes and far too much scrapbooking tape, others use the time to bake a bunch of unhealthy snacks to binge on during November, and some people- like me- pretend they’re getting work done when in reality they’re just making playlists and writing out the characters’ names in thirteen different colours. The underlying problem that I didn’t account for was that school was going to run me ragged, and I wouldn’t have enough time to sit down and write every day. In the midst of filling out university applications and being buried up to my nose in unwritten essays, the very last thing on my mind was figuring out my mess of a novel, it just didn’t appeal to me. And maybe that’s a sign that my idea needs to be tossed out the window, but that’s easier said than done when you’ve been spending time with characters for two years. Yeah yeah, excuses excuses. I know. You don’t have to tell me twice.

The third mistake I made was telling people that I was trying to write a novel. Now, this is twofold: Firstly, I had people holding me accountable for my writing, and secondly, I had people holding me accountable for my writing. Some of it was amazing- my friends encouraged me and pretended to care while I ranted to them about word counts and wanting to abandon my goals. But sometimes, the dreaded comment would pop up.

“How’s your novel coming?”

Ugh. I’m shuddering even typing it out. I guess I hated that comment because it made me realize just how behind I was- in fact, my novel was coming along badly and I didn’t want to admit to that. It unleashed some kind of beast in me. I know they meant no harm by it, just making small talk, taking interest in my life, but I guess I put too much pressure on myself to “finish” a novel that had hardly any direction to it. In that sense, I’m glad I didn’t waste 50000 words on it because if I didn’t even know what my novel was about, how would readers know? To me, it’s evident when a writer lacks a centralization and purpose.

My next mistake was that I’d never tried such long writing projects before. I’m used to writing short stories, scripts, that sort of thing–not books. And maybe that’s where I went wrong. I approached it the way I assumed novelists approach writing their books. Regimented, strict, I wrote by chapter which put restrictions on me, and I didn’t write it in a way that makes me excited to write. This novel idea is so close to my heart, but as the days go by I’m really wondering whether I should lay it to rest… I mean, at least for a little bit. Maybe I’ll dig it up later. I searched “books that took years to write” for a little motivation and a Bustle article came up entitled “7 Novels That Took Their Authors Years To Write (To Make You Feel Better About Not Finishing NaNoWriMo” and I don’t know about you, but to me, that feels like a sign. A sign to do what, I’m not sure. Not sure at all.

Because I have nothing to lose, I’ll insert the little blurb I wrote about my novel that’s featured on my NaNo page:

“It’s the middle of winter in Toronto. The year is 1979.

When 16-year-old Ashenee Walker’s aunt Sylvia goes missing- she realizes that she doesn’t know her aunt all that well at all. Out on her own, Ashenee has to find the one woman in the world that means something to her.

Along the way, she meets Wes- a boy who is trying to find out who killed his older brother- and Reid, an addict who is trying to get back on his feet and give back to the world. Somehow, in any way they can, the three will try to hold their patchwork friendship together and find what they are looking for before the stitches come undone.”

If anything, I’m glad I participated this year because it taught me what I have to do. I learned that I need a lot more prep time in order to get this story to take off, and I think I’m going to give it another shot. I guess after all is said and done, my trainwreck turned out to be my triumph.

I really want to know what you think about NaNoWriMo. If you’ve tried it, let me know if you love the format or hate it with all your guts. If you never have, would you? The thing I liked about it was that it finally got me to start and keep at it for a little while, and it made me realize how I should go about a big project like this next time. I love the idea of it, and I think that it works for some people–but does it promote quantity over quality?? I think it does.

Thanks for sticking around, and as always, happy reading. xoxo

PS. I wrote more in this post than I did on a daily basis in November, so if that makes you feel better about your writing projects… I’m glad I could help.

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Original Short Story 3 – “They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To”

Here’s a little story I wrote for my writing class, inspired by an image of an old man. I hope you’re having a wonderful week, and I hope you enjoy the story. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think! Happy reading 🙂


The disappearance of Angelika Leos is what brought me to a small Greek island five years ago. The way she had vanished without a trace had sent a chill down my spine. Admittedly, the paycheque also sweetened the deal. It’s not every day that you get assigned to a missing person case. I rented a motorboat, and though I didn’t quite know what I was looking for yet, I knew where I was headed – Angelika’s hometown. The sea was calm that day, but the sun beat relentlessly down and left me with a sunburn the size of Pangea across my shoulders. Only an hour into my trip, the engine made a noise like a clogged drain and sputtered to a halt. Just like that, I was trapped in the middle of the Mediterranean, near an island that I couldn’t pronounce, with a touch of heat stroke and a fatigue so great all I could think about was taking a nap.
I woke up to the sight of an old man standing over me. The shock nearly made me tip the boat. He was possibly the oldest man I had ever seen: lips puckered around a rancid smelling cigar, and wiry eyebrows covering a pair of swampy green eyes. I felt inexplicably jealous that he had managed to get such a rich tan, while I looked not unlike a cooked lobster. He nodded wordlessly and extended a calloused, hairy hand, which I took after a moment’s hesitation. In an instant, he tied my plastic boat to his and we sped away, skipping over the waves like a pebble.
The old man’s house was perched atop a hill, looking dainty as a bird’s nest and just as fragile. I noticed how nimble he was, as he tied up the boat and hauled the rental onto the shore. He looked up and said in broken English; “I fix… later.” I tried to tell him that he didn’t have to, that I would call for a water taxi, but he had already started up the hill, and so I followed.
The inside of his home had the feeling of an empty tavern – warm and inviting, yet strangely sad. The decor consisted mostly of fishing paraphernalia, and in the corner, an old dog that I’d mistaken for a brown rug snoozed away. I got the impression that the dog was his only friend. “I make tea,” he shouted from the kitchen. “You like peppermint?” No, as a matter of fact, I thought peppermint tea was repulsive. “Peppermint’s fine!” I lied, unable to will myself to argue with an old man. Alone in the living room, the warm tavern feeling had shifted. Something was off, though what it was, I didn’t know. I listened to the clanking of cookware, making sure that he was still occupied while I sifted through papers with the name “Nico L.” printed on them, which I guessed was the name of my rescuer. He shuffled back into the room before I had a chance to find anything substantial. My heart beat fast, and I was worried it might shut down like my boat’s engine had. I nodded thanks as I took the mug in my hands. We sat for a while, sipping our lukewarm tea, bound by a rope of silence. I watched him carefully. He looked constantly on the verge of crying as if he was replaying a sad memory in his mind. I couldn’t help but feel bad for him. He was nearing the end of his life, and his solitude was causing him grief. I looked at my lap, not quite knowing what to say. It was then that I saw, lying on the floor, those unmistakable green eyes looking back at me, contained in the prison of a photograph: Angelika Leos. My whole body stiffened. He noticed me staring. “Ah. You look for Angelika,” he croaked. I took a moment to breathe. Steady, heart, steady. “You… know her?” I stared at his creased brown face, which was twisting into a horrible grimace. “Nico,” I whispered. “What happened to her?” He got up and hobbled over to the window, looking down at the sea. “You are lucky,” he began, “that your boat did not sink.” he looked down. “I told my daughter before she left. They don’t make those boats like they used to.” Nico turned to face me then, and his stony expression had turned soft. The tears that I thought would fall never did. He wore the stoic look of a soldier, of a father, of a man that was done crying. “She never listened.”

The Passenger – Lisa Lutz

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“You can never see anything clearly when you’re running.” – Lisa Lutz, The Passenger

Hey, look! I read another thriller book! How surprised are you? It’s becoming a bit of a trend these days. Not too sure why; I promise I’m not planning a murder. Anyway, I’ve just finished The Passenger by Lisa Lutz. Here are my thoughts.

Tanya Dubois had nothing to do with her husband’s death. Or at least, that’s what she claims when we first meet her- our unreliable narrator. About as quickly as you could fall down the stairs… Tanya makes a run for it, and clearly, it isn’t her first time doing so. Tanya forms an unlikely bond with a woman named Blue and drinks ten times her body weight in whiskey, but still manages to stay on the run. Throughout the book we’re introduced to our protagonist multiple times- under different names and identities- but is it possible for her to hide from her questionable past? Something happened ten years ago, and it’s coming to the surface once again.

The premise of the novel is not that revolutionary, it’s something we’ve all seen before. That being said, it was executed fairly well. The pacing was consistent and I never fell into a rut where I couldn’t pick up the book again. You can have a lot of fun with an unreliable narrator, and this novel, in particular, had one that captured my interest. Tanya (as we’ll call her for now… although she does go by many other names) manages to keep her past a secret until the very end. I did pick up on clues and hints along the way, and by the time I had about a third left I had a general idea of what was going to happen. I was still intrigued and didn’t find the story to be overly predictable. 

The small cast of supporting characters- like Blue, for instance, added a great dynamic to the story. I really enjoyed reading about the relationships that Tanya formed, especially since she would often have to let them go to stay under the radar. The parts I liked the most, though, involved Tanya on her own, alone with her thoughts in various strange situations. Lisa Lutz is quick-witted and clever- even the title, The Passenger, seems to have no correlation at first, but it becomes clear eventually why it was chosen. She manages to inject some dark humour into her writing, which allows you to immerse yourself in Tanya’s world. I especially enjoyed that because I saw my own sense of humour and style of speech in this novel. Each section or chapter also ends with an email from Tanya’s past, and slowly, we can piece together the real reason why she is running, which I thought was a nice touch. There were several occasions where I didn’t want to stop reading because the moments of true suspense were very well written, but to be honest, they were few and far between.

Now I’ll move onto the other side of the coin. I found this novel to be repetitive. Every time Tanya takes on a new identity, she undergoes the same process of altering her appearance and figuring out how best to conduct herself under the new name. I mentioned this next thing already, but Tanya drinks like a fish, and that’s pretty much the only character trait she keeps during the whole story. Another thing that bothered me was (and this really isn’t that much of a spoiler- it happens in the first couple pages) the fact that Tanya’s husband Frank just fell down the stairs and died. I mean… it was a little too tidy and convenient (maybe even unrealistic? Or too realistic?) for my taste, and it kind of bugged me throughout the story. The whole attitude in this book surrounding death and murder is a bit sterile– or textbook, I should say.

The ending is what got to me the most. To me, a strong ending can make or break a novel, and in this case, I was slightly underwhelmed. Yes, we do get to find out what happened in Tanya’s past, and yes, we do get a classic wrapping-up of the events, but I felt disappointed.Maybe because the characters that deserved justice didn’t receive it, maybe because I sympathized with Tanya. Another thing: the “twist” with one of the characters didn’t surprise me at all. In any case, I liked the symmetry of the ending (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it).

To conclude, I will say that this story was one that managed to keep my attention and interest, but I wouldn’t say that I was fully involved in it. As I mentioned, some events and conflicts felt unrealistic to me and pulled me right out of the story, but the clever ideas and humour brought me in again. It had a nice flow and pace to it and didn’t take too long to read. Apparently, Lisa Lutz’s other novel series (The Spellman series) is a lot more popular, but fortunately (or unfortunately…) I’ve never heard of or read those books, so you’re getting my honest first impression of her writing. And I have to say, I did have a good time with this book.

Happy reading! x

Original Short Story 2 – “Paying Lobster”

 

“God bless him,” said Georgia, as she stood at the foot of the ramshackle grave marked with the name ‘Renner H. Cromwell’. Beneath it was the date of his death, as well as a short sentimental inscription: ‘A man of honour.’ Georgia and her partner Carolin huddled closely together while the early winter wind whipped around the cemetery. Beneath her heavy scarf, Carolin’s face twisted. “Who paid for the lettering? Aren’t you supposed to pay by the letter?” She stuffed her hands further into her coat pockets and exhaled a cloud of frozen breath. “This son of a bitch’s name alone could put his family in debt.” She bent down as if to observe the handicraft of the headstone up close. Georgia clenched her teeth and glared at her partner. “He was a good man. Really,” she said. Carolin chuckled. “You know, if you have to say that, it usually means he wasn’t very good at all.”

Back on the main road, the pair walked with their heads down towards the centre of town. “I feel like I should have brought flowers,” Georgia said through her scarf. “He was an important man. Do you get cursed if you don’t bring flowers to the grave of an important man?” At first, she laughed at herself for thinking this, but then she felt a chill run up her spine and she fell silent once more. If she wouldn’t be cursed for forgetting flowers, then she sure as hell would be cursed for what she had already done to his grave.

Under the warm light of a street side café, the two shed their layers of clothing and sat at a table by the window. “It’ll be in the news before long. They’re gonna know,” Carolin said, her hands wrapped around a mug full of freshly poured coffee. Georgia waved away the waiter’s attempts to pour a mug for her as well. Carolin sighed; “They’re exhuming the grave on Saturday and they’ll know that we were hanging around.” Georgia stared out the window and tapped her fingers on the table. In a sudden moment of clarity, she shook her head. “No. No, they aren’t gonna know,” she said. Carolin looked at her friend in a way that said, ‘I appreciate the optimism, but at the same time I really don’t.’ Georgia didn’t even notice. Her mind was already spinning at a mile a minute with ideas. “Hear me out! We do something public, but not too showy. We pay homage to him somehow, get the dirt off our shoulders. Easy as that.” The waiter came around a second time with a new pot of coffee, to which an exhausted Carolin raised her mug for a refill. “That’s a fine idea, but where are we gonna get one this time of year?” She asked, after burning her tongue on the coffee. Georgia furrowed her brow at her partner. “It doesn’t have to be something huge, just… like I said, just to pay homage to him, make it seem like we respected him-” she rambled, before being cut off by Carolin. “Yeah, I heard you the first time, but where are we gonna get one this time of year?” Georgia had already pulled out her phone and started writing down notes. “Carolin. What do you mean one?” They gawked at each other in mutual confusion. Georgia blinked. “A lobster,” Carolin said simply. Georgia stared, dumbfounded, at her. “You said pay homage. Lobster. I’m taking online French courses,” Carolin confessed. When it finally clicked, Georgia laughed and put her head in her hands. “God dammit, Carolin, you better not end up in prison. They would chew you up.”

They paid the cheque and donned their winter clothes once again, everything the same as it was before, except for the word homard that had been hastily written in black pen on Carolin’s hand as a reminder. The fear was only now beginning to set in. It would only be a matter of time before someone realized that the grave of public figure Renner H. Cromwell was empty. They were going to have to come up with a plan, and fast. Preferably not lobster-related.

*via Daily Prompt: Homage

 

*This story was written on 08/27/17 – the day the prompt was released. 

Outline – Rachel Cusk

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“People are least aware of others when demonstrating their own power over them.” – Rachel Cusk, Outline

Outline is the first novel by Rachel Cusk that I have read. It is a fairly short contemporary fiction book, but despite its length, it took me way too long to finish it – and here’s why.

The story centers around a woman named Faye, who, when we meet her, is travelling from London to Athens to teach a writing course. On the way there, she strikes up a conversation with a Greek man who has plenty of stories to tell. Throughout the rest of the novel, we get to sit in on Faye’s conversations with the various people she meets in Athens. We gain some insight into her own personal life and see her detailed perspective on the world.

As you can tell, I don’t have much to say about this book. In fact, I’ve never had this little to say about a book. I checked it out of my school library for the summer because the cover page boasted a “Scotiabank Giller Prize Shortlist” sticker and a promise that it was an example of masterful writing. To say the least, I fell for it. I really wanted to read a great Canadian book, or hey, not even great- to be honest, I would have settled for good. Unfortunately, I was bored out of my mind reading this diary-turned-novel. It read like a student’s attempt at a philosophy paper. The only reason why I finished it was because I had some long train rides and nothing to do. And maybe also because I was excited to write a bad review for once on this blog… who am I kidding.

The “main character” is not really much of a main character at all. We learn only a few details of her life- which has the potential to be interesting, but unfortunately left me feeling utterly detached from Faye and her problems. The story went absolutely nowhere. I kept reading, expecting a climax or something, but all I got was another chapter with another drawn-out melancholic conversation between Faye and one of her Greek cohorts. The funny thing is, I found myself most interested in the part of the book where Faye’s students were sharing stories that they’d written for class. The rest of the book was rambling and lacked a grounded plotline. This led to me forgetting the names of supporting characters, and daydreaming while reading.

Admittedly, there are a few lines and ideas that struck a chord with me. The book’s largest overarching theme is womanhood (what it means to be a woman, the responsibilities of women in the modern world, etc.), and with that theme comes a few intriguing ideas, but hardly any of them are expanded upon. The book is stagnant, almost as if it doesn’t know what it is. I would have stopped reading after the first few pages, but it was the only book I could fit in my carry-on bag, so… here we are!

When I finally finished the book, a couple things stuck with me. The first was that I found myself laughing at the title. The book kind of feels like an outline. And if that is what Rachel Cusk was trying to achieve, more power to her. That’s actually pretty genius. I just wish she could have gone about it in a way that was a bit more exciting. The second thing I picked up on was that Faye was probably a reflection of the author- at least on some level- so it felt more like a memoir than a fictional tale. That being said, if I had gone into it expecting a memoir, maybe I would have enjoyed it more.

So many people rave about this story, and I hoped I would have been able to as well. At first, I enjoyed the sort of exploratory style of the story, but it got old fast. I’m starting to think I’m just not the type for philosophy. If that makes me small-minded, so be it. Maybe I’m not asking the right questions, or maybe I’m not giving this book enough of a chance. However, for every wonderful review, there is a scathing one, and that’s what I love about literature. I for one really enjoyed reading other peoples’ reviews- both the ones who loved it and the ones who hated it. I probably won’t be reading any more Rachel Cusk, not because I have some personal vendetta against her, I just have a lot I’d rather be reading (but as the saying goes, never say never). On the bright side, if you have any trouble falling asleep, this novel might do the trick for you.

…I’m kidding.

Thank you for reading my completely negative review! Hope it didn’t put you in a bad mood. I would love to know what you thought of this novel if you’ve read it. Maybe you can change my mind. Happy reading. Xoxo

PS: If you’re a Goodreads fan, feel free to add me as a friend! I update my progress on the books I’m reading there so you can see what’s coming next. I’d love to connect with you! Check me out here.

The Perfect Stranger – Megan Miranda

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“All things return with time. But you have to go looking for them. You have to be ready for them. You’ve got to be willing to take the risk over and over again.” – Megan Miranda, The Perfect Stranger

This marks the second Megan Miranda novel that I’ve read. The first was the widely popular All the Missing Girls which you can read my review for here. This second book has a stunning cover page that matches the style of Miranda’s previous novel but The Perfect Stranger is not a sequel to All the Missing Girls. You can read this one without having read the other. Let’s lay this book out on the chopping block.

Leah Stevens is forced to leave her old life behind when she loses her big city job. Having once been a reporter at the top of her career, Leah finds herself wrapped up in a scandal that forever leaves an imprint on her reputation. Enter Emmy Grey, Leah’s saving grace. A girl that she’d connected with long ago reappears in her life, and this time, she’s looking to get out of the city. The pair starts a new life together in a small Pennsylvania town where they hope to leave the past in the past.

When Emmy goes missing, Leah’s new life comes to a standstill. What’s more, it begins to look like Emmy never existed at all. The police are unable to find any information about her past. Leah takes it upon herself to track her roommate down, but the small town starts to show its claws. People she thought she could trust change their stripes, two attacks happen near her home, and every moment without Emmy makes her realize how little she knew her. Leah’s situation is made all the worse because of her scandalous past, and she struggles to find the truth while keeping hers under wraps.

If you have read All the Missing Girls, you may have noticed a few parallels between it and this novel. Big city girl moves to small town, a girl that went missing, etc. It almost felt like Leah and Nic (the protagonist from All the Missing Girls) shared quite a few personality traits. Both are inquisitive beyond belief and both are very self-reflective, in that they pretty much analyze all of their own actions. This novel is written in first-person limited tense, so we’re stuck inside Leah’s head for the duration of the story. This does work, because it allows for suspense to be carried from scene to scene, and we discover secrets as Leah does.  However, as with any first-person novel, being trapped in the mind of one character can kind of grate on your nerves. At least, it did for me. Leah turned into a repetitive, rambling character towards the end. It felt like I was reading Megan Miranda’s thought process because Leah would constantly repeat things that we already knew about just to comment on them. My complaint about the last novel was that there was no real synthesis to the end, no denouement, which was not really something that it needed, it was just something I missed and that I like to see. One complaint I have this time around is that there was far too much denouement. Once the reader knows everything that Leah knows, there are still a few chapters left for Leah to reiterate her points and wrap everything up. I think it would be fair to say that I was dissatisfied with the ending because, in my opinion, the author built up the suspense only to leave me with an ending that I expected.

One more element that I was disappointed with was characterization, specifically within the fairly large cast of supporting characters. Leah is a teacher, and so she has a few colleagues that she interacts with, but nothing goes beyond face value. She goes out for drinks with her colleague Kate Turner, who then proceeds to ask her to go again a few more times, but nothing comes of it. It is mentioned that the principal of the school has a bit of a crush on Leah, but again, this is never brought up again as an interesting story point. There’s a “romance” (if you can call it romantic) for Leah that lacks any real substance, it’s all surface level stuff. What’s more, we don’t really get any background information for any of the characters besides Emmy, Leah, and a woman named Bethany Jarvitz who is involved in an attack. Of course, it isn’t necessary for supporting characters to be illustrated in detail, but there were a few characters that I would have liked to see the motives and thoughts of.

To be honest with you, the ending of this novel did kind of confuse me. It’s not that I didn’t understand what was happening– well, ok, it is like that. The motives of certain characters were so unclear, and it felt like Leah just sort of gave up on everything and rushed to her own conclusion. I did enjoy part of the ending, where Leah heads back into the city. The story takes place in the same three or four locations for the entire time, and so this was a welcome change. For about a page or two, the story picks up again and is more fast-paced, but then it slips back into its comfort zone and remains pretty safe for the remainder of the novel.

Now, I don’t want this to end on a sour note so I’ll go over some of the things that I really did enjoy about this book. I read the novel in stages, and during the first stage, I couldn’t put the book down. I really enjoyed the idea of “a person who never existed” and I was asking a lot of questions, theorizing, etc. The glimpses we get into Leah’s past are intriguing, and I liked seeing her put together the lost elements of Emmy’s life.

To be fair, I did have high expectations for this read as I was quite impressed with Megan Miranda’s previous novel. No, the book did not live up to my expectations and yes, I was left with a lot of questions and loose threads. I would recommend it, on the pretense that you’re looking for something quick, and that you aren’t too interested in complex character development. Megan Miranda does have a talent for writing suspense, and I will probably read anything she puts out in the future.

Thanks for checking out this review! Happy reading.

 

Atonement – Ian McEwan – Book Talk #1

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“I like to think that it isn’t weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness, a stand against oblivion and despair, to let my lovers live and to unite them at the end.” – Ian McEwan, Atonement

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Ian McEwan’s novel, Atonement. Perhaps you’re like I was, and you’ve either heard very good things or not so good things about it. Maybe you’ve seen the popular movie adaptation. Today I will share five different perspectives on this novel. But before that, let’s cover the basics.

I was drawn to this novel because of its protagonist, a young girl named Briony Tallis who dreams of becoming a writer. This was something that I could connect to, and maybe you can too. The fact that it is a historical fiction novel also sweetened the deal for me, though if you are not too keen on the genre, this one may not be for you.

Atonement dives deep into Briony’s life and her connection to her family. As a child, she witnessed the changing relationship between her older sister Cecilia, and Robbie Turner – a close family friend. Briony eventually commits an unforgivable act, betraying both her sister and Robbie in the process. For the rest of the novel, Briony must come to terms with the mistake she has made and suffer the consequences.

This novel is a classic example of the scandalous family drama, complete with romance, crime, and treachery. Because of its 1930s-1940s setting, the novel also delves into the realities of World War II, and the effects it has on Briony and her family. What’s more, it provides a striking, in-depth look at one girl’s journey from childhood to adulthood. Ian McEwan writes skillfully about the trials and tribulations of the human mind. But, I guess I should move on to the “howevers”.

Atonement is written largely through the eyes of our beloved protagonist Briony, whom we meet at age thirteen. It did take me a while to get into this novel (which you hear quite often, I know) because of its sugary prose and drawn out narrative. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of a bit of floral language from time to time, but the beginning of this book actually made me hate Briony, just a little. To me, it was worth it to get past that and finish the book. As you’ll see soon, however (see, there’s the word!), not all of my friends agreed with that. It was hard to follow, and frankly a bit ridiculous at times, but the middle and end of the novel made up for that. My friends and I found ourselves having so much to talk about, from the complex themes and symbols to the development of our favourite characters, there was never a dull moment. Atonement provides a unique perspective on class differences in wartime England, a look at the life of a soldier in love, and of two sisters who struggle to look past each others’ faults. Atonement will surprise you, spark your curiosity, and it might make you a little bit bored (hey, I’m being honest! That’s what I’m here for, right?).

And with that, let’s go on to the discussion. Of course, if you haven’t read the novel and would like to, I will warn you that there are spoilers galore below. If you have read the novel, or know you aren’t interested or are interested but you’re one of those people that don’t mind spoilers (what’s wrong with you??), read on.


Our characters in today’s play are: myself (Mackenzie), Michael, Sarah, Emily, and Mira. Everything written here is transcribed from a recording of the discussion. Warning: It’s a bit ridiculous, we tend to get off-topic.

We began by having a discussion about how much of the story was actually real. There were a few conflicting opinions on this. As you know if you’ve read the novel, the entire book is written by our main character, Briony Tallis. This led us to the question…

Michael: Was Briony an unreliable narrator?

Sarah: Yes, she could have said anything and we wouldn’t know whether it was true or not. You can’t really tell whether Briony told the truth or not. She’s the only one whose perspective we see.

Mira: It has to have some kind of conclusion, it can’t just be that she made it all up.

Emily: But that’s something that I think makes it really good, the fact that you don’t know if it’s real or not.

Mackenzie: That was something we were talking about throughout the whole novel, we kept wondering whose point of view we were in, but it turned out to be Briony’s all along, which was a nice surprise.

Michael: What did you think about Lola’s ending?

Emily: I looked into this quote that said: “This, as they used to say, was the side on which her bread was buttered.” So Lola thought that it was in her best interest to stay with Paul Marshall. Do you think he still abuses her?

Mira: [quoting Mean Girls] “Is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?”

Sarah: Maybe that’s why Briony made a point of describing that she wears a lot of makeup when she’s older, maybe she’s trying to hide something.

Mackenzie: Do you think she knows [that Paul Marshall was the one who raped her as a child]?

Everyone: Of course she knows!!

Mackenzie: I don’t know, maybe she doesn’t have a clue. Maybe she’s repressed it. People can change their own memories; they start thinking of something one way and they believe that that’s what happened.

Mira: I can see that. She probably convinced herself that it was Robbie.

Sarah: I definitely think she knows, but she’s too scared to say anything. She’s doing it to protect herself.

Emily: I was thinking about how this relates to Life of Pi, actually. He [Pi] compares his family members to animals, and he does that as a coping mechanism to deal with the fact that he killed some of them.

Mackenzie: Yes! I like that. At the end of Life of Pi there’s the reveal [that they weren’t really animals], and in Atonement, there’s also a reveal [that Briony wrote the whole book].

Mira: I’m sorry, what? He killed his family?

Emily: I’m not sure, I think it was actually the cook or someone that killed his mom, and then he acted out to get revenge.

Mira: Oh ok, I mean that’s perfectly justifiable, I thought he killed his mom.

Emily: Yeah, well, people kill their moms, ok?

Everyone: -laughs

Mackenzie: That’s definitely going in the blog post.

Michael: What did you think of Leon’s ending?

Emily: Yeah, can we talk about how he had like four marriages?

Sarah: Did he go to war too?

Everyone: (that high pitched sound that people make when they don’t know the answer to something)

Emily: I liked it, I thought it was a nice ending for him. She was talking about how her family was so surprised that he was so dedicated to his kids.

Sarah: Because he had an absentee father! So maybe he wanted to make up for that.

Emily: And mother, pretty much. Neither of them was really involved with their kids from what we saw.

Michael: (seemingly out of nowhere, but we were all very intrigued) You know that when you recall a memory, you’re just remembering the last time you remembered it, not the memory itself.

Mackenzie: That’s one of the themes I picked up on, can you really trust your memory?

(Now we shift into talking about themes and symbols. One of the symbols we kept trying to decipher was water, and water imagery).

Emily: I looked into the water thing, guys, get ready. It symbolizes… atonement, washing yourself of your grief, cleansing your sins.

Mackenzie: Oh my god! How did I not think of that! (Earlier in that week, I thought that the water could symbolize the sort of middle ground that Briony always found herself in).

Emily: It can also mean destruction, like how water washes things away. And also, the vase symbolizes Robbie and Cecilia’s love, and how they were in love that whole time [before the story began], and on the first day that they came together, it broke apart. That’s why a piece of the vase broke!

Everyone: Ohhhhh!

Emily: And then in 1940, when Betty dropped the vase and it shattered, that’s when-

Mackenzie: They died!

Emily: Exactly.

Michael: Wow!!

Emily: And there was one line that I loved at the end, it was “like policemen in a search team, we go on hands and knees and crawl our way towards the truth,” and that’s what I think Briony was trying to do throughout the whole novel.

Sarah: So the reason she wrote this book is to atone for everything that happened in her life, the mistakes she made.

Mackenzie: I loved that scene near the end at the apartment, when they were all going head to head. It was really intense.

Emily: But then Robbie just showed up, and it was kind of anti-climactic.

Sarah: I agree, Briony was relieved that he was alive, which was pretty ironic because he actually was dead.

Mackenzie: Hold on, what?! He was dead? That scene never happened?

Sarah: Yes.

Mackenzie: She made that up?!

Sarah: Yeah.

Emily: That’s the first thing she said was that “If I had courage, I would have gone and done this.”

Mackenzie: No way!! (Way to be observant there, mate)

Emily: She lied about that, and like, the whole thing she wrote.

Mackenzie: I’m sorry, the whole book?

Emily: Yeah!

Mackenzie: (the world’s loudest laughter) Oh my god!

Sarah: That’s what we’ve been talking about!

Mackenzie: Well I knew it was her book, and her story, but I assumed there was some truth to it.

Sarah: It could all be fiction!

Emily: It did happen, but we don’t know how much of it was true.

Mackenzie: This could be way too meta for me.

Sarah: So that whole apartment scene is the atonement she wished she could have had, but never got.

Mackenzie: The book pretty much ends after Lola and Paul Marshall’s wedding then, when Briony returns to the hospital but the hospital blows up or something?

Emily: Right, the hospital had an explosion.

Mackenzie: What if she died! What if this is her ghost?

Sarah: That’s too meta for me.

Emily: And the book ends with this quote, “I like to think that it isn’t weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness, a stand against oblivion and despair, to let my lovers like and to unite them at the end.” So some people may read this book and ask “How did it really end?” Well, it ended like this, and her lovers got to be together.

Sarah: Well that’s nice, but that’s how her book ended, not how real life ended.

Emily: I love this part: “No one will care what events and which individuals were misrepresented to make a novel.”

Mackenzie: It’s like we can’t even trust ourselves.

Sarah: And that’s why I think the crime with Robbie never even happened! Maybe it’s something else that happened.

Mira: But the whole book revolved around that, and it was all about Briony trying to make up for her mistakes.

Sarah: But you don’t know if it was really that or if it was something else. Something worse.

(Little interlude here, Sarah hates Briony’s character.)

Sarah: I hated that part where she was talking to the other nurse about “the horrors she’s seen” in the hospital. It’s not even close to an actual war! Briony’s always trying to play the victim!

Mackenzie: But you never see anyone happy. The only thing you ever see [when you’re a nurse] is people who are sick and dying, while in the war you still might see people who are holding onto their happiness.

Michael: How did you see Briony’s character change?

Mackenzie: Well one of the big themes of the novel is growing up, and we get to see the process of growing up with Briony. I definitely think her voice changed, I noticed a huge difference between her child self and her teenage self. It was more flowery and open language at first and then she became more sophisticated but harder to read.

Emily: When she was in the hospital she was just trying to keep busy and she was always washing her hands, trying to get rid of the guilt.

Mackenzie: Lady Macbeth!

Michael: What do you think was in the notebook from the beginning? She talked about how she had this one locked notebook full of her secrets.

Everyone: (stumped by that question)

Mackenzie: Maybe there was nothing in it, maybe she just kept it so she could feel like she had secrets.

Sarah: Do you think this [the novel] was written in the locked notebook?

Everyone: -laughs

Emily: Also what I’m confused about is the Trials of Arabella.

Sarah: Why was it relevant?

Emily: I looked it up and found that the Trials of Arabella is a mirror for the book, Atonement.

(The conversation continues while I look up this analogy, the topic is pretty much focused on how sad Sarah and Mira were that one of the twins died).

Emily: But I don’t trust it now. What if Briony misrepresented everyone in her book?

Sarah: Jackson and Pierrot were the only characters I liked in this book.

Mackenzie: Yeah, who was your favourite character?

Sarah: Jackson and Pierrot.

Michael: I think mine is Cecilia. She’s mysterious, she has this hidden part of herself, she has a different feeling to her.

Mira: …Not Briony. I like Cecilia as well. I was going to say Robbie, but, no, I didn’t really like his part- it was kind of boring to me. I didn’t like how fast it was going. It felt out of place. I feel kind of bad for him [Robbie] though, and that whole war part developed his character. Cecilia is good, she’s pretty cool.

(Emily having a nervous breakdown in her seat)

Mira: What?

Emily: I just, don’t even know what to think anymore, because you don’t know any of these characters! It would be like me writing a book about Sarah, and I hardly know anything about her. You would just know my perspective of her!

Sarah: If you want to write a book about me, it’ll be a lot worse than this one.

Emily: The only character we can really talk about is Briony! Because she’s the only one!

Mackenzie: I was going to say that she’s my favourite character because, without her, this wouldn’t exist.

(I told you about how Sarah hates Briony; Emily will defend her anytime).

Emily: But guys, she was so young and she made one mistake that haunted her for the rest of her life and she couldn’t even be forgiven for it!

Sarah: Yeah, but how long can you use that excuse for?

Mira: You’re Briony-biased, ok?!

Mackenzie: Brib-ased.

Mira: Briased.

Sarah: But she had so much time to make up for it and she didn’t!

Emily: Don’t you feel bad for her?

Sarah and Mira: No!

Mackenzie: What would you do? If you were in a similar situation?

Sarah: I would tell the police! Right away.

Mackenzie: Ok, think of yourself at age thirteen. I knew you at age thirteen and it was rough. What would you have done? You saw your cousin, and some guy that owns a chocolate factory attacked her. And then your sister, your hypothetical sister, you see a letter from some dude addressed to her saying that he wants to kiss her… What would you do?

Sarah: I would hold no grudges, I would tell them what I saw! That it was Paul Marshall.

Mira: Right, because Briony had no affiliation with Paul Marshall, no reason to protect him. She just wanted to spite Robbie.

Mackenzie: It was a rash decision.

Emily: But at the same time, she didn’t actually see that it was Paul Marshall. She just saw it was some guy and she thought she’d pin it on the guy she happened to have a grudge against.

Mackenzie: Briony, at age 77, sees the play that she wrote as a child, and she sees the parallels between it and the novel that she’s written. I think she realizes that she hasn’t come very far from where she began. And that’s true for everyone. We can push past our boundaries and grow from where we came, but we can’t forget where we started.


Thank you for reading my very first Book Talk! I hope you enjoyed it; we all had a lot of fun discussing this together. As always, happy reading!

All The Missing Girls – Megan Miranda

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“The woods have eyes and monsters and stories. We are them as much as they are us.” – Megan Miranda, All The Missing Girls

Megan Miranda’s debut adult novel All The Missing Girls is a story that will take charge of your senses and lead you down a rabbit hole of secrets. We’ll follow the story of a young woman and her tumultuous past; from end to beginning.

Nicolette Farrell left her hometown 10 years ago and has begun a new life in Philadelphia – which includes a new fiancé and job, among other things. Just when Nic feels like she is finally letting go of her past and beginning anew, complications back home arise. She is forced to make the trek back to Cooley Ridge, North Carolina to fix up and sell her father’s house as his illness and memory worsens, and with that comes an onslaught of memories she hoped she had forgotten.

10 years ago, Cooley Ridge had been Nic’s beloved home. She and her friends knew every corner, every secret. When her best friend; Corinne Prescott, went missing, everything spiralled downhill. Upon returning home Nic learns that Annaliese Carter, the young girl that never stood out to anyone, went missing under similar circumstances. But Corinne was never found. And Annaliese still has a chance.

This book was, for lack of a better word, shocking. The story is told backwards, starting at Day 15 and ending at Day 1. As the reader, I would uncover a new bit of information with each chapter and have to piece it together myself- which I absolutely loved. However, this is not a book that you can put down for a while and come back to – unless you have a spectacular memory. I found myself going back to refresh my memory on what had already happened. The middle of the book felt like it was slowing down a bit, but once I got near the end, I really couldn’t put it down. I had to finish it in one sitting, because the twists and turns were so surprising. The ending left me satisfied, although I was hoping for one of those “all-is-revealed” chapters like you find at the end of some crime fiction books and films. I was left to figure out some of the connections myself, which did make me feel closer to the story.

There are plenty of tropes in this book; it has the typical small town feel where everybody knows each other inside and out, Corinne Prescott- the original missing girl- is the beloved “manic pixie dream girl”, though she does stray from the norm with her own background of dark secrets. Our protagonist, Nicolette Farrell, LOVES to say the word “damn”! (A lot!) who has trouble leaving her childhood behind, and Annaliese Carter is a sort of “loner-turned-villain” which we learn more about as the story progresses. I found that my opinions of different characters could change from chapter to chapter, especially since it was unfolding backwards. One thing in particular that I enjoyed about the character development was the exploration of depression and mental illness. The characters felt very real and down-to-earth, each with their own inward struggles and problems.  I probably would have believed that it was based on a true story, that’s how plausible the situations were to me. The men in the story play a huge role, and Megan Miranda includes very interesting insight on how they differ from their female counterparts.

I picked up All The Missing Girls after reading that it was a perfect summer read, and it really was. Even though I was reading it between busy days, I still found the time to come back to it because it really drew me in and made me think about human nature. If you want a story that will shock and delight you, Megan Miranda’s All The Missing Girls may be the right fit. I could even draw some parallels to other crime fiction novels such as The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith; which also deals with a mysterious situation and a whole host of suspects surrounding it. It challenges the ideas that you already have about human nature and family secrets, and will leave you thinking about how you would have reacted had you been in the same position.

Happy reading.


Thank you so much for reading my newest blog post after 10 whole months of silence!! The last year was a very busy one for me, and I was experiencing a lot of new challenges and stress. I’ve finally found my footing again and I’m ready to give this blog a new chance. It was created out of a whirlwind idea, and I was overwhelmed with the positive response I was getting, as well as the support for my friends. I’m ready to put even more effort into it and I will be alternating book reviews and short stories. I want to thank you personally for sticking around.

Mackenzie

Original Short Story 1 – “Tempt”

There she was. A young girl wandering about the streets. The air was cold and the buildings creaked, the dead of night wrapped her up and made her lungs tighten. She had been daydreaming of her fellow. He wasn’t very nice to her at all but she liked him anyway. When she came out of her reverie she realized that she had come to a halt before a crooked little wooden shop. It baffled her to see the shop, for it had never been there before and it looked as though it had been constructed overnight. Indeed that’s what had happened. The shifty makeshift shingled shop seemed to whisper her name, so she entered because she was a little bit delirious and didn’t know how she’d gotten there. She was cold. The shop radiated a warm glow and sucked her inside its mouth like a lemon drop. She quite liked the feeling of being a lemon drop.

 The shop was strange, it was much larger on the inside than the outside, and the walls were lined with shelves that went from the floor to the ceiling, the ceiling to the floor and the feiling to the cloor. The shelves were filled with boxes that had papers spilling out of them. Some blank, some burnt, some drawn on. Directly ahead was a very small desk with a chair that faced the opposite wall. She was not scared so she didn’t blink. The girl cleared her tight throat, and shook away the night. The chair spun round to reveal an old man sitting behind the desk. She was not surprised.

He had the silveriest facial hair she’d ever seen, even more silvery than her fellow’s. He was writing. The girl wasn’t curious but the silence became unbearable so she began to inquire about what he was writing. The old man suddenly turned solemn and furrowed his brow. “If you do not know my business,” he began, “then why do you come seeking my services, child?” The girl was embarrassed suddenly and turned around to leave but the man called after her and told her please sit down. She didn’t turn around right away. After thinking for a while in the warm shop the girl was confused, as there were no chairs in the room, but when she turned around again, there was indeed, a magnificent velvet chair where there was once empty space. She was not scared so she didn’t blink. She sat down and the old man looked her dead in the eye. His eyes were the colour of the night. She shivered. It was warm but she shivered still. 

 “Do you wish to know of your future?” he asked The girl laughed for the first time in her whole life because that’s what she thought she should do. what? did she? She asked him, “what will this cost me?” Cocking a silvery eyebrow, the man put his hand to his chin and stroked his magnificent moustache once. twice. thrice. frice. “I suppose it will cost you your life,” he decided. The girl shrugged her little shoulders. Her fellow had his life taken and was still as lively as ever. Still a bit curious, she asked him next what all the papers on the walls were for. He glared at her with a silvery eye and a silvery frown, and said, “Don’t change the subject and please don’t waste my time. Would you like to see your future, or not? She sat silently and wondered for a little bit. She could just feel a sliver of cold air trying to latch itself onto her. She hissed at the cold and shooed it away so that she could concentrate. Could this really be true? Perhaps without her life she could be nice with her fellow again, like old times. She sighed. How lovely it would be. In all her 12 years she had yet to receive such a delicious offer. “Yes, i would like to see my future,” she said. She was not scared so she didn’t blink. the old man cried a little bit. He told her not to worry. Perhaps he just had allergies. 

He got out a marvellous quill pen and a bottle of ink. It was spiffing and the girl wanted to steal the quill but she remembered her fellow. When he stole he was hanged and he died she remembered. “My dear child, I haven’t yet told you of my specific services,” he whispered. The girl was irritated, as it was late and she was a little bit tired and maybe drunk. After all she was only a small child and she needed to get home to her fellow. “I am going home,” she reminded herself. “I will be with my fellow.” The old man stood up from his chair. The girl nodded her head and said, “Tell me what you do please.” The girl remarked that he was very short. Indeed more short than her fellow. Her fellow was a tall fellow, yes. He cleared his throat and began to speak.  Melodic was his voice all of a sudden. As if he’d recited this over and over. “My duty is a very arduous one. you see, people come from far and wide to utilize my service. I possess the power to see into the future, and I draw images of what people will look like when they die, so their age, health and so forth. I set up shop only once in a while, when I can sense that someone will be tempted to wander in.” the girl was intrigued just a little bit by the little man. how very badly she wanted to know her future! When would she die? In a few months? Years? Centuries?

A clock struck midnight outside. She counted the tolling bells on her fingers and gasped and nearly ran from the shop. Midnight was her curfew, how her fellow would be mad! But alas, her temptation was far too strong, and so she stayed in the velvet chair, awaiting her future to be shown to her. The old man took his seat again behind the desk and looked at the girl once more. “Give my your hand, child” he whispered so softly she wouldn’t have heard if she weren’t sitting so close. She placed her hands on the table. She was not scared. She did not blink. The old man, not once breaking his stare, took her smooth hands in his aged, wrinkled ones. He then closed his eyes and started humming a familiar tune; God Save the King. The girl was scared now. Her fellow sang this exact song while just before he hanged. He never got to finish. She blinked a little bit. She stayed where she was and silently said her prayers. May my fellow come back she said. May he come back and stop hurting me. That wouldn’t take too long, she knew her fellow would return again more kindly than he had before. She was so very anxious to see a glimpse into her future life. She watched the old man closely, his wrinkles were fading, his silvery hair dulling, but the light from her own eyes was draining. “May he defend our laws, and ever give us cause, to sing with heart and voice, God save the king…”

“Our father prince and friend, God save the -“ the man immediately stopped humming then, and his eyes opened with a jolt. He released the girl’s hand forcefully. Funny, that was where her fellow had stopped singing too! He smoothed out the paper on the desk, but then reached in the drawer instead. the girl assumed he was getting a different kind of paper or a fresh pot of ink, but he pulled out a large rectangular object that looked quite heavy, wrapped in brown paper. He looked the girl dead in the eye as he unwrapped the paper and said “if only you hadn’t given into temptation, my dearest one.” the paper peeled back to reveal a glimmering surface. An exquisite mirror! The old man held it up and the girl was faced with her own reflection. It took her a moment, but she soon understood. She began to sing. “God save our gracious king, long live our noble king.” The door behind her slammed open and a gust of wind swept through the shop. She couldn’t bear to look behind her so she focused straight ahead. She saw her dead fellow, hurtling toward her with a knife in hand. She was not scared so she didn’t blink. She smiled as her fellow brought her warmth, plunging the knife into her chest. The last thing she saw was a portrait of herself, glowing with temptation and regret.


I thought I would try something new this week, I hope it’s interesting to you. This story was quite out of my comfort zone, I tried a brand new voice but I really like how it turned out. I’m thinking that adding an original story once every few weeks like this one will help to bridge the gap between book reviews. Speaking of book reviews, I apologize for the sparsity of those. I’ve been quite busy with school but there is one coming up. Thank you very much for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!

-Mackenzie

Room- Emma Donoghue

Room

“People move around so much in the world, things get lost.”– Emma Donoghue, Room

Room by Emma Donoghue is a 2010 novel that recounts the story of a young family; torn apart and tossed aside by one horrific man. It tests the ideals of perfection and family bonds, but ultimately leaves the reader in a more refreshed and receptive state of mind.

Room is about a 5-year old boy named Jack. Jack and his Ma live in Room, a converted shed with a password-guarded metal door.  It may not seem so luxurious, but it’s home. In Jack’s case, now that he’s 5, he knows everything there is to know about Room, from its weathered bed, to the snake made of eggshells that resides beneath it, to the single source of natural light, Skylight, and so on. From a distance, he may seem like an average kid. He loves to draw, sing, watch Dora the Explorer and do gymnastics. But despite his mother’s best efforts, he’s been deprived of a real childhood. Jack’s five years of wisdom come from inside the four walls of the shed, and he’s hit with a ton of bricks when he realizes that there is a whole world outside. Dora and Boots alone can’t teach him about the world. As far as he’s concerned, the only real, tangible things exist in Room. When he finally escapes the clutches of Old Nick, his captor, Jack has a lot of trouble figuring out the real world. It’s the essence of a self-discovery novel and it’s thrilling and beautiful.

Jack’s perspective is emotionally draining and absolutely enlightening. The story is somehow innocent and painstakingly profound all at once, and it is the inseparable bond between Jack and his Ma that holds the whole story together. Reading this novel I felt myself transforming as I flipped each page. After finishing, I noticed myself thinking in a different, more open-minded fashion. Everything that I couldn’t see before; the way the light catches on certain things, the dynamics of peoples’ laughter, suddenly became clear. I am entirely grateful for this experience of a story, because that’s what it truly is, and I would recommend it, hand over heart, to anyone and everyone. I truly hope that this novel goes down in history as an inspirational, heartbreaking work of art. The characters are so well-developed and as the reader I became completely invested in their growth, struggle and pain. It’s an awe-inspiring story of self-discovery, self-hatred, self-confidence and self-everything else.

This book impressed me, as it is clear to see, with its extremely well-executed plot and detailed descriptions. It’s very hard to visualise something so small, such as Room, when you’re used to thinking big all of the time. We are (or at least I am) always told to think outside the box. But when it comes to Room by Emma Donoghue, we have to revert back to small ways of thinking, in order to understand the characters (especially Jack), and to learn along with them. This story is also very loosely inspired by the Fritzl case, a real-life event where a father held captive and sexually abused his daughter for 24 years. Room is not nearly as tragic as this case whatsoever, but the parallels between the two are absolutely evident. Emma Donoghue has expressed that saying Room is based off of the Fritzl case is far too strong, but of course the reader can see how she may have been inspired.

I was also very excited to find out that a film has been made based on this story. I am thrilled and cannot wait to see it, I have faith that it will look excellent as a movie. If you’re someone who likes to read a book and then watch a movie about it, or vice versa, go pick up Room as soon as you can. Even if you cannot see the movie (if it’s not available where you live), I strongly suggest giving this one a try. Even if you’re usually not a big reader, although I don’t know why you’d be here if you weren’t, no judgement, this story has taught me a plethora of unforgettable lessons, through Emma Donoghue’s masterful character voice and touching character relationships. Thank you for stopping by, and happy reading. xoxx