Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Oh, look at me finishing two books in quick succession.

I’m just going to dive right into the post. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The story follows Sophie. A Haitian girl being raised by her aunt at the age of 12 when her mother sends for her from New York. You follow her to New York to marrying to returning home to the tragedy of her mother’s suicide.

I’ve owned this book a couple of years now and knew absolutely nothing about it. I didn’t know the author. I didn’t know the premise. I didn’t know the themes. The story blew me away from page one. Haiti is arguably the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and you know it immediately. But as soon as you wrap your head around Sophie’s surroundings they completely change as she heads to New York to be reunited with her mother she doesn’t know. She soon realizes how difficult her mother’s life really is. This is important because of the conversations people are having TODAY. So many people in America want to paint immigrants as criminals, worthless, and illegal. But so much more often than not, they’re just like Sophie’s mother. Working multiple jobs and supporting family back home.

But the book isn’t only about being an immigrant and trying to find where we belong. Sophie suffers from bulimia and sex phobia, as it’s described in the book, and her mother suffers from severe mental illness, ultimately leading to her suicide. Sophie seeks help in multiple ways. I’m not going to say I suffer from anything, but I know how it feels to be entirely unhappy with every aspect of life, and to feel like no one is coming through that door to help.

Those are the two things I’ve taken from this book. That we should look at immigrants just as we would anyone else, and that we all have the ability to free ourselves from things we can and cannot control. Sophie begins the story as a struggling girl and ends it as a struggling woman. It’s okay to struggle. And it’s okay to seek help when you need it.

An absolute gem of a book.

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Is It Really All About Money?

I’ve read this week about two lawsuits currently pending. They both concern the work of authors who have died. And in both cases it’s one part of the family suing another part.

One of the lawsuits concerns the work of John Steinbeck. The other is about Tom Clancy.

What happened to preserving the legacy of authors once they die? So many times lawsuits are filed almost immediately upon the death of an author. I guess this is no different from other types of celebrities who leave their families to fight over large estates. But it’s still a bit disappointing.

I think Robert B. Parker did it best. He left his series in the hands of other authors he knew. Though I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to read a Spenser or Jesse Stone novel written by another author, at least there was no fight when Parker died unexpectedly.

Do you think it immediately becomes all about the money involved once an author dies?

Thirteen Reasons Why: A Comparison

Earlier this year I happened upon the adaptation of this book on Netflix. I was just minding my business scrolling through the menu and happened to see it as a new release. I knew nothing about it. But I recall it being an early Saturday afternoon and I was doing nothing. One episode wouldn’t hurt. I watched. Again. Again. And again. Until I’d managed to get through the entire season the following evening.

Soon thereafter I bought the book. I made it halfway through and then simply stopped. It wasn’t because I was not interested or it was poorly written, I just have these periods almost every year.

I finished it last night.

I’d rate the show as five stars. I know some call it controversial, but I’m not part of that faction. I’m of the opinion that we need to have a conversation about the topics discussed in the book. All of them. But we aren’t. Not until it’s too late and tragedy has struck. The show began one of those conversations.

But this is one of those extremely rare cases in which the adaptation is better than the original. At least in my opinion. Clay Jenson comes off as accusatory throughout the book. He almost appears to blame Hannah for everything that’s led her to make her final choice. The book also focuses entirely on Clay’s perspective, whereas I think the show gives a bit more from the other involved characters.

I won’t get into every single detail in the book I had an issue with. I still rated it three stars. The show showed us the anguish and isolation Hannah experienced. The book struggled to do the same.

Breaking A Rule

I have a rule. The rule is that I won’t read multiple series by the same author at the same time. Then Prime Day happened and anew release was available for $8! It’s the first book in a new series by an author I really enjoy. I’ve resisted the urge to pick it up and start reading for about a month I’m just about ready to break my rule and start it. After all, I haven’t finished anything since February. 

Books I Recommended to Someone who Asked for a sad Read

The actual request was for a book that may make them cry.

Lone Survivor

Night

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Martian

All of the books have completely different storylines. Two are based in fact. Two are not. The common thing from all of them is that I believe there are lessons to be learned from each. Just like there’s a lesson to be learned from nearly every book ever published. The messaging may be off and the writing poor, but find a book in which you take nothing away from it and I’ll gladly hand you hundreds in which you’ll find something hidden beneath the printed words.

What was the last book that made you cry?

Why, Netflix, Why?

It was announced yesterday that Netflix has renewed Thirteen Reasons Why for a second season. I actually just told someone recently I’d be interested in finding out what happens once the season ends. That wasn’t a lie. What I didnt want is another season added on to something I believe ended perfectly. The story was told. The end was the end.

I think Netflix bought into its own hype. As much data and research goes into releasing a TV show on any platform, no one can ever truly predict the reaction of the viewer. Everything I’ve read tells me the reaction of the viewer of this show has been overwhelmingly positive.

Am I surprised this happened? No. At some point we have to acknowledge great books, TV shows, or movies simply don’t need sequels or more seasons. Last I checked the book never had a sequel.

Do you have any thoughts on a forthcoming second season?

On to the Next One

When I started reading The Great Gatsby I fully expected to be blown away nearly a decade after first reading it in high school. I simply wasn’t. If it had pulled me in as I’d expected, then I’d have finished it by now. I think I’ll tackle Thirteen Reasons Why. I see no reason why I wouldn’t enjoy it. And, I’m in a slump. 🙁