Off the Continent

Find all my writings about none African literature and fiction in this category.

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by SANDHYA MENON

“She wept for her hardheadedness, and for a world that couldn’t just let her be both, a woman in love and a woman with a career, without flares of guilt and self-doubt seeping in and wreaking havoc.”

“You’re going to see a lot of it. People getting ahead unfairly because of the category into which they were born: male or white or straight or rich.”

“This is our life. We get to decide the rules. We get to say what goes and what stays, what matters and what doesn’t. And the only thing I know is that I love you.”

Reading this stellar romantic novel has been Kismet and I know Rishi will agree with me.  I first came across it in June’s feed of some bookstagram accounts. Later when I will research, read then fall in love with YA Romance genre. I’d meet reviews, recommendation posts and sworn oaths about this amazing storyline. I decided to read it because of its main characters. I mean opposites attract right? Two young Indian American teens, one is a modern ‘woman in tech’ while the other is a traditional son who is ‘hobby comic artist’. Both who were matchmade had different views on love, stability and family traditions. Divine!

I appreciate the book being written in chapters alternating between Dimple and Rishi’s point of views. I fell in love with Dimple first then with Rishi faster. It’s also a coming of age novel wrapped in young romance tale. It discusses a lot of questions young ambitious persons with caring families ask. It was delightful that I got to watch Dimple and Rishi warm up to each other after their not so polite first meet. The friendship both characters build becomes a strong foundation for their mutual respect, attraction, and other things. How alive Dimple Shah is, is revitalizing. She would call to me in between lectures and my LL.B research time. Asking if I wasn’t curious about her and Rishi’s app development progress or treasured art in Rishi’s sketchpads or their kissing tab (I kept one). For teenagers, these two were mature, articulate, cultured, brilliant, bright and rightly matched. Their opposing views on family and responsibilities as an Indian child helped each other appreciate life a bit more. I’m now on a search for a bar like the one Rishi took Dimple to on their first non-date turned date night. I mean limited edition books, food and cocktails..sounds like I’m going to be searching Lagos.

Heck, halfway through the books I had mental fan art depictions of petite Dimple with her wild curls and taller Rishi armed with his sun rise smile and gada. Rishi Patel, unlike my suspicions, was kind, sweet, thoughtful and responsible aka a hundred yards of husband material. Their chemistry was erotica gold and fanfic worthy! I’m sure Karl felt it warm him up. Other minor characters also had diverse interests, races, financial backgrounds, personalities which added to the conflict and climax of this YA Romance. Surprisingly, both parents were much more supportive than the heroes felt. The best conflict is usually internal conflict of a character magnified by external conflicts. Sandhya Menon crafted this perfectly with the end of Insomnia Con and other things. Like the author said in her acknowledgements I really did see some sides of myself in Dimple and Rishi. Lord knows how many times I’ve painfully broken off budding love to focus on my career or reality.

It amazing how encompassing the themes and lessons are. Sexual responsibility, signs of growing love, crash course on being a jerk, date slay dressing tips. To sharing the importance of seeking your loved ones happiness, tips on sibling rivalry, peer pressure, planning meaningful dates, evading persistent mothers and kajal, stalking mentors to present an elevator pitch. Should I continue the list? The book was set in San Francisco in present day. The detailed knowledge of comic art and computer programming by the characters made the psychological set robust. With an easy to read vocabulary the writing style was simple but artistic. Vivid imagery, humorous irony, quirky dialogues give this story LIFE!!! There were Indian everyday words to those for food, endearments, feelings, etc. I learnt a few new words (a mean fit for a book to do these days.). The tone was warm, inclusive and descriptive.  I noticed a few contemporary romance clichés reenacted beautifully (eg. the unexpected but fate destined end).

When Dimple met Rishi coffee splashed while hopes soared.  Now the book is over I’ll miss watching Dimple push her glasses up her nose with Rishi or see Rishi smile and sketch characters for their app or being able to roll my eyes when the Aberzombies holler by. Although, I can’t pick out in clear words where the book title is from. It’s in how they first meet and Dimple’s character. Which is perfectly photographed on the book cover. In the beginning was the end, is really clear once you read this. Five bursts of riveting golden fireworks for resolved plot conflicts, answering difficult questions, teaching lessons about family and love.

 

Advertisements

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR BY NICOLA YOON

“People spend their whole lives looking for love. Poems and songs and entire novels are written about it. But how can you trust something that can end as suddenly as it begins?”

“All teenagers separate from their parents. To grow up is to grow apart.”

“Growing up and seeing your parents’ flaws is like losing your religion”

“Sometimes your world shakes so hard, it’s difficult to imagine that everyone else isn’t feeling it too.”

 

Its summary? A Guide To Falling In Love Within A Day: Using Science and Fate. 20% into the ebook I began falling in love with the writing. I mean science and history, optimism versus realism, fate and hope, family, love and life’s disappointments themes written in beautiful sentences.

‘He was some exotic planet and I was his favorite satellite.

But he’s no planet, just the final fading light of an already dead star.

And I’m not a satellite. I’m space junk, hurtling as far as I can away from him.’

What’s not to love?! The first person and omniscient point of views used to write this YA Romance novel makes the story robust and intriguing..just like life. How many times do you see a black teenage heroine who is a science geek, realistic about life and purses her goals relentlessly? Neither is an American Korean hopeless romantic and poet trying to choose his own path an object of denied affection. The minor characters are flawed with regrettable histories and surprising futures I get to peek into. Yet these flaws and some mistakes set in motion events that influence Natasha and Daniel love story. For a major part of the book, Natasha and I share an open secret Daniel is unaware of.

Certain chapters named Evoluntionary History discussed eerie, hair, multiverses, four minutes, etc. I enjoyed the writing style Nicola Yoon used. I got introduced to her combination styled writing in Everything Everything. Both main characters narrated their tales using lists, essays, dialogues, soliloquy. The omniscient point of view used imagery, flashback, irony to enliven the book’s themes. The novel is set in New York geographically the characters and I trekked Times Square, visited Harlem amongst other places in a day. In that same day, I got to time travel to the past Jamaica and Korea then future histories unlived. Themes of self-realization, love, loss, family, failed hope teach much. I learnt about the science of human existence, cosmic love, immigrant realities, making apple pie and how mundane romanticized coincidences are. Two days ago I animatedly told a friend how I felt it was written about my existence. I’m a tech enthusiast and hopeful romantic who always has brief cosmic love experiences.

The Sun Is Also A Star has earned four fireworks. As with Nicola Yoon’s style, the novel ends unexpectedly. In all the multiverses where I imagined various ends, it wasn’t supposed to end realistically unpredictable! Or did it, the last chapter makes me ask fate.

JULIET TAKES A BREATH

JULIET TAKES A BREATH BY GABBY RIVERA

“Libraries are safe but also exciting. Libraries are where nerds like me go to refuel. They are safe-havens where the polluted noise of the outside world, with all the bullies and bro-dudes and anti-feminist rhetoric, is shut out. Libraries have zero tolerance for bullshit. Their walls protect us and keep us safe from all the bastards that have never read a book for fun.”
“Bible stories that painted women as untrustworthy or whore-ish always seemed off to me. Like, what did those messages have to do with God’s love anyway?”
“Get a little hysterical, Juliet. I mean that’s why vibrators were invented, right? Ask the questions that make you feel like your heart is blasting out of your chest.”
“There’s a lot of wisdom in the world that’s been discarded because it comes from traditions created by women, indigenous peoples, and other non-white dude customs. So, hell yeah, I believe in this stuff.”
“You control the energy in your body. Never forget that, Juliet..”
“Weird is the only way to live, she said..”
“… and in the middle of it all: all of the self-empowerment, all of the radical womanhood, all of the community-building. You will still feel wrecked. Allow yourself to be wrecked. Know that it is finite.”

I did wonder where Juliet got her name from. Its an unusual name for a Puerto-Rican girl but then she isn’t your usual girl at all. Juliet is named after her mama’s love for a Romeo and Juliet 1968 movie adaptation. This book these its Spanish phrases. Scents of the Puerto Rican foods wafting up from my Adobe Reader made me want to get online recipes. I’m tempted to learn the language and then listen to the book’s translated version all over again. I mean Juliet’s experience with Harlowe were filled with seemly ridiculous things..synced periods?! But the more I thought about it I realized my mum and I sometimes have synced periods and its always so exciting for us. Not so ridiculous after all. To be honest masturbation does help relieve cramps. This book made me remember a lot of things. Like my first period which was a magical moment although I was less naïve. I remember how I felt reading up Africa American LGBTQ experiences and terminologies, noting and googling new phrases thinking so there are terms for these! As Joey D says ‘How you talk about the things that matter is what matters’. Or how I initially tried to reconcile my very African existence with the world’s more militant than my family-taught feminism. This book makes me breathe in myself and joyous life about the little big phenomenons. With each chapter you will see yourself in many aspects of the book. Like Harlowe, I have a way I celebrate and treat myself once I get my period, Don’t you?

From its first chapter and introduction into its heroine’s mind I knew this was a novel I could fall in love with. What a baby dyke narrative! I love coming of age novels, chicklit and queer romances. If social politics can be addressed in the narrative I’m hooked. During my teenage years I loved Historical Romance from every corner of the earth. Now I can say Young Adult(YA) Romance is growing tendrils around my heart.

13. Didn’t Come to Kill Anyone. I Came Here to Die. Starting each chapter is exciting because the mysterious name of each chapter promised an intriguing tell. I read the italics title of chapter 13 above and began wondering what Juliet is up to. What new thing will she learn today? FYI Chapter 13’s end made me recall a similar break-up. I love how the style is free form prose verse. It is like reading a novel, a journal and listening to a memoir all at once. With a musing almost reflective tone, humor and steady pace the story progresses. ‘She zipped through the downtown area, a comet hurtling through the darkness of the galaxy.’ ‘Dinosaur-sized butterflies fluttered in my stomach.’ ‘I watched her until she was a speck of magic dust in the distance’. Expert imagery and beautifully written sentences! The novel is largely narrated from Juliet’s first person point of view and dialogues between characters. This brown baby dyke is coming into herself in slow burst of discoveries. Largely unknowing, fiercely loyal Juliet is endearing, caution and cool. She aptly describes herself as thick-bodied, bespectacled, cautious, overtly Puerto Rican and brown skinned, book-nerd, daydreamer.  Harlowe Brisbane is another major character in this lesbian, coming of age novel. She is The Pussy Lady, author extraordinaire,flawed mentor and endearing starlight,
I can’t help but wonder all the new experiences and knowledge will they become habits? If yes, will she take them back to the Bronx from Portland? I know what’s it’s like not to notice your own changes or extent of change until you are back home. Lil’ Melvin’s brown bag made my brown eyes mist as my pale pink lips parted into a wide smile.  A highly recommended read with 4 fireworks!

 

 

Where Rainbows End

WHERE RAINBOWS END by CECELIA AHERNS

“But knowing you, if you had a problem with me you wouldn’t be too shy to let me know all about it.”

“Ex-girlfriends are easily forgotten. Best friends stay with you forever.”

“She is the tiniest and most fragile little things I have ever seen, sometimes I’m afraid to hold her but then she opens her mouth and all hell breaks loose. It’s amazing how something so small can be so smelly and so nosy.”

“See the possibilities, smell the success in the air, taste the rewards.”

“I need to see my own life go for when Katie goes because I don’t see any Prince Charmings coming along to rescue me. Fairy tales are such evil little stories for young children.”

“People who says it’s a long story mean it’s a stupid short one that they’re too embarrassed and couldn’t be bothered to tell.”

“No, I have a shit job with shit pay, shit flat with shit rent. I have no time for shit sex with a shit man.”

One word- HILARIOUS!

Two words- Unbelievably honest.

Three words- I loved this!

I read this novel during three reading vigils second week in June. It was worth it!!!  This has been the most hilarious book I have read in forever. I never expected the turn Chapter Six took. My eyes are still wide open from the shocking plot direction. Pregnant! The novel introduces us to the funny childhood banter and friendship between Rosie and Alex. Over the pages and chat like style both characters grow through teenagehood, fights, adulthood, careers, family changes, love and marriages, growing children, loss and death and into old age. How fate kept interfering in the progression of their friendly affection into everlasting committed love was infuriating. The novel’s narrative is written in a series of letters, instant messaging and email correspondence which at first confused me. Geographically set in Dublin and other parts of Ireland and America it a refreshing change of scenery for my Off The Continent reads.

It is the most unusual romance novel I have read. Yet it’s a profoundly honest portrayal of long-lasting friendship and living life. Where Rainbows End is a box of love letters for every type of love one can have in life. I won’t lie Rosie did frustrate me oftentimes; I was like “cheer up, take a chance, stop sacrificing, let go babe!” The tone of the novel is comical, honest, open, witty, often times mysterious. Gosh! I loved the minor characters! Their contribution to the plot was always helpful, subtle and rib-cracking. Rosie’s mother willed her the Connenara house. I couldn’t help but be grateful Rosie could FINALLY run something close to a hotel. Infact after reading her B&B Brochure made me want to visit. Tears filled my eyes at Chapter Fifty’s messages and end. I wanted a staycation just to rest and bask in the end of this magnificent read. This novel showed we all choose and contribute to how we live our lives, dream filled or lacking. Another lesson I learnt was that you should address express our emotions and sort out issues with loved ones urgently or amicably. Time flies and when it does all these things don’t matter.

If I didn’t like anything about this stunning novel is that life events kept inhibiting Rosie from making choices that got her closer to her dream life. It felt unfair, but it made me love the novel and Rosie’s persona because it made the winding timeline memorable.

Where Rainbows End gets 4 fireworks plus a twinkle and comes highly recommended.

BITTER TRUTH

BITTER TRUTH BY WILLIAM LASHNER

“She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless lines and starry skies and all that’s best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes.”

“Obscene wealth is the greatest American obsession and I am nothing if not a patriot. It’s just that now I think how I make it and how I spend it is every bit as meaningful as the money itself.”

“I can detect the sweet scent of mint, no, not peppermint, government.”

I read Bitter Truth by William Lashner  all week during January’s third week. With a desire to return the borrowed novel, I pulled it out and decided to read it. I don’t regret it! This novel, Victor its hero, and it plot twist were spectacular.

Where do I start? Is it with the murdered Reddmans, vengeful Pooles, damning letters and diaries, unearthed family secrets, the Philadelphia mob or unique view to spirituality and religion or the ambitious lawyer and hero Mr Carl in the midst of it all.

A complex, unconventional, compelling legal thriller that kept shocking me with its suspense, plot and characters.

‘A taste for truth at any cost is a passion which spares nothing.’-Albert Camus. This is the first quote that I meet when I flipped the book’s beginning pages.  At the end of the book I fully understand this quote. The powerful crippling future of fortune built on lies, deception and crimes.

Written with many literary devices like imagery, personification, simile, metaphors, poems,  jaw dropping flash back, the plot felt complete without being burdening. The novel begins with Mr Carl on a plane to get his third of a one hundred million dollars judgement sum from a mysterious mastermind killer. Through the rest of the novel the plot jumps from the hero’s current search in Belize for the judgement debtor to  apt flashbacks, of the chilling sometimes comical and outrageous experiences during his appointment as an  attorney, to investigate the Reddman family murder and history while weathering a mob war.  It’d been a while I have a novel with characters so alive! One of my best reads in January.