OfftheContinent

BOOKS, FILMS, ADAPTATIONS.

Films Or Books? Is usually a question people ask me. Dah! You just pulled me out of an open novel to ask that question. But sometimes the stars aline in the dark galaxy and there are movie adaptations of books I love. From the Star Wars franchise to Half of A Yellow Sun, I love watching movie adaptations of  narratives I adore. Its magical watching the cast and crew efforts of squeezing and trimming a novel into an hour plus of interpreted visual delight. Plus seeing the author’s approved representation of  imagined characters and setting, ah!

This May I watched a few films based on books which I found endearing. These join the list of my favourite adaptations (in no particular order) The Notebook, Half of a Yellow Sun, The Great Gatsby, Longest Ride, Something like Summer, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Call Me By Your Name, Everything Everything, Me Before You, Fifty Shades Trilogy, etc.

So..May Adaptations include

Message In A Bottle by Nicolas Sparks, A touching story of love and loss, grief and growth I read while in senior secondary school. I was so moved by this narrative that I wrote a short note to my crush then, I put it in an empty plastic bottle and gave his friend, the courier. His other friends hijacked the bottle, ran around school to my utter embarrassment before they surrendered my message. Although, suspecting that might happen I’d kept it short, poetic but not ‘lame and loving’. In the end my crush didn’t see anything sweet or romantic about this gesture. That was years ago. After watching the movie adaptation for the first time last week I sent my secondary school best friend a direct message about this funny but embarrassing memory. He said, ‘that boy never had any romantic bone in his body’. Like every Nicholas Sparks book, there were the timeless, classic, aesthetic setting of the film.

The Best of Me by Nicolas Sparks, one word..WOW. for the moving undying first love story, adulthood reunion, loss, sacrifice. A beautiful adaptation of a breathtaking narrative. I cried.

The Kissing Booth by Beth Reckles: Another unique teenage romance story. Filled with plot twists, friendship, hurt, love and being honest with one’s self. All perfectively captured in this bright, up beat Netflix movie. Plus Elle was acted by a short, curvy, beautiful young woman. Amazing.

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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.

February Flowers

Humans connect in various ways. We connect by showing vulnerability and responding to it. Connection can be built by recognising, comparing, relating and sharing similar emotions or experiences. February Flowers by Fan Wu had the former while I connected through both. I’ll share how I connected with more of the latter.

We are all humans regardless of where on the earth we fall on. As Chimamanda Adiche said in We Should All Be Feminists, “the problem with gender is it prescribes how we “should” be rather than recognising how we are’. The female gender; girl woman. Mere nouns that prescribe how females should be at any given stage. They powerfully enslave and free us in various ways. Their relations are ironed out in this book. It’s like the characters live some of your personal memories. I hoped to learn more about unique but failed female friendships when I came across the book.  However I have learned Nigerian and Chinese cultures aren’t so different or similar as you might think.

“I had earned the reputation of being one of the most intelligent students in the class and that helped justify my aloofness.”

“As a girl or a boy you were a bad or dirty child and bad student if you were interested in boys or in a relationship.”

“What’s wrong with being a bad girl?”

The book is set at the University in Guangzhou and other places in China. It is narrated by stream of consciousness of Chen Ming. I loved the writing style and pace of the novel. It was a coming of age novel written as memory flash backs of the heroine, Chen Ming. The story is about the friendship between the teenage heroine and a popular final year woman, Miao Yan. I was immediately enamored by Miao Yan. Her boldness, calculated wit, beauty, confidence and womanliness. Truly deserving of the nick name ‘wild goose’. She holds all the affection of younger, smart, reserved Chen. Until the later is heart broken. There are other characters like love interests of both women, Chen’s room mates, Chen’s parents.

The novel has the themes of friendship, self discovery, selfishness, love, betrayal, kindness, big city and student struggles. It asks questions like: ‘why do we change ourselves for love?’ and ‘what does it mean to be a woman in China?’ The second question reminds me of a phenomenon in Nigeria where young girls are told to grow into women fast by learning homeliness. Yet older women refer to themselves as baby girls. The funny irony of rushing to grow and learning to be a woman only to realise it means less innocence and little change.

Some lessons from this engaging narrative are not to change yourself for the ones you love, the guilty live afraid and you never really know anyone.

Call Me By Your Name, Something Like Summer.

November 2017’s Coming of age gay romance novels I read.

Following October’s themes of friendship, forbidden love and coming of age in February Flowers by Fan Wu. I read two coming of age gay romance novels. Early in November I came across their movie adaption trailers. Both named after the books, Call Me By Your Name (movie trailer) released in August and Something Like Summer (movie trailer)released earlier in March. Being the bookie I am, I downloaded the ebooks and read them.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME by Andre Aciman

It’s the summer of 1983, and precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman is spending the days with his family at their 17th-century villa in Lombardy, Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who’s working as an intern for Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.

“You are my homecoming. When I’m with you and we’re well together, there is nothing more I want. You make me like who I am, who I become when you’re with me, Oliver. If there is any truth in the world, it lies when I’m with you, and if I find the courage to speak my truth to you one day, remind me to light a candle in thanksgiving at every altar in Rome.”

I loved this novel, its setting, characters and love story. You just have to love the hero, Elio. For a large part of the novel he battles with his growing affection for Oliver. Elio who played amazing classical music renditions with the piano and guitar, was sensual and endearing. Oliver was vibrant, outgoing, loveable. Elio’s parents were elegant people.  There were also other memorable characters. It was truly a summer of love, music and fun at their beautiful villa and town. Because the narrative had built up Elio’s attraction to Oliver. When they finally became intimate it was magical. You could feel the unease Oliver felt about pursuing the relationship because of Elio’s age and other unmentioned reasons. The story went further than that summer. It was a painful separation.

A few things about the book struck me. There was the irony later revealed in the plot. All the while Elio battled with his attraction, Olivier’s oblivious attitude and self loathing. He did not know Oliver had also been attracted to him while battling his feelings. Another irony was that Elio’s father knew about his love for Oliver. Even though they both tried hard to hide it. If you are in a heterosexual relationship its easy to take a grew things for granted. Things like the scent of your lover, showing public affection, etc.

Years later they meet again and we are reminded of what was and what could have been.

SOMETHING LIKE SUMMER by Jay Bell.

Love, like everything in the universe, cannot be destroyed. But over time it can change. The hot Texas nights were lonely for Ben before his heart began beating to the rhythm of two words; Tim Wyman. By all appearances, Tim had the perfect body and ideal life, but when a not-so-accidental collision brings them together, Ben discovers that the truth is rarely so simple. If winning Tim’s heart was an impossible quest, keeping it safe would prove even harder as family, society, and emotion threaten to tear them apart. Something Like Summer is a love story spanning a decade and beyond as two boys discover what it means to be friends, lovers, and sometimes even enemies.

“Falling in love is a subtle process, a connection sparked by attraction, tested by compatibility, forged by memory.”

Ben! He was one of my favourite book characters of 2017. The book spans his teenage years far into his late adult years. Various characters show us the extent we can all go in pursuit of love. Even though I loved Ben’s love for Tim. Their break up was painful. I kept thinking ‘damn you self denial and lying!’ I was relieved when Ben found and fell in love with mature, calm Jace. All the characters are loveable especially optimistic, open, talented and loving Ben. I must say I was deeply sad at Jace’s demise but happy with the end of the book.

Ben, Tim and Jace form a love triangle that made my heart skip with worry, thrill and excitement. The style of the story gives us a peep into each characters thoughts. However the story is told mostly through Ben’s perspective. I loved the relationship he had with Jace with all its make ups and vacation travels. Bliss.  I like how without being gay you can relate to a lot of issues in the book. How one can struggle with what one wants to do and what is expected of the person. Making a choice between two confusing delectable admirers or finding a career to pursue. And of course being gay in the 90s and now.