January 2021 Book Highlights

We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

“We were liars” is a modern fairytale-esque novel exploring the world of four young teenagers during their luxurious yearly summer escape. All the classic features of a fairytale; love, greed, materialism and power, can be found in this haunting book. The element of mystery adds a thrilling sentiment and was a rewarding aspect when putting all the pieces together. The clues hidden throughout the story made it fairly easy for me to figure out the plot twist at the end but the final thoughts conveyed by the protagonist will still leave you heartbroken. Being a shorter novel, I’d have to say that there’s still room to add more depth to the characters but it is definitely an easy read that captures the unruly nature of our teenage years.

Alexander Hamilton – Ron Chernow

First published in 2004, the book tells the story of a man, who against all odds and during a life cut short early (he died in a duel in his forties), came to shape an entirely new nation. The book has been hailed as one of the best-written biographies of Hamilton.

Beyond the accolades, the musical broke barriers by featuring a cast that actually looks like America now, portraying Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington and other white historical figures by Black, Latinx, and Asian actors. The music draws from elements of hip hop, R&B, pop, and soul music — and is so good.
Here are some of the different types of book adaptions that are very popular among readers.

Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a superbly told story of a woman traveling to a countryside manor after receiving a distraught letter from her newly-wed cousin. The story is imbued with the classical elements of gothic fiction: spooky houses, omen-like symbols, supernatural events, and more than enough mystery and suspense. Moreno-Garcia does an exceptional job at constructing this atmospheric setting that at times it feels as if you too are struggling to breathe in the damp and mildewed rooms and hallways of High Space. The characters are charming (or horrific) and well-rounded enough to make the book a worthwhile read, however, the story develops into something fantastically original. As the title suggests it’s a deeply gothic-themed book, but the gothic element is really a cover for something far more sinister. This departure elevates Mexican Gothic to a delightful new standard of blended genres that’s supported by a story that’s sure to stick with you long after the last page is turned.

Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

Growing up in the Afghan diaspora within the UK, I knew very little of the diversity of my homeland and the times before the war. I was introduced to The Kite Runner in my mid-teens and I could finally imagine what a peaceful Afghanistan once looked like, however brief this period was. Reading about the cultural norms within our community and the odd words of Dari (a dialect of the Persian language) romanized was an aspect that I loved as it was introducing to others what Afghan culture truly is. It was refreshing to have this depiction of us as we are normally only viewed as war victims and this book shows that we’re more than just that. At the same time, I became aware of the important ethnic groups have and how this has created a heartbreaking division in what the Afghan identity is. Being part of the Tajik ethnic group myself, I never experienced the same kind of prejudice that groups such as the Hazara’s have and still sadly do. This was a difficult read for me, however, I also believe that knowing the reality of the discrimination is important as it has the power to educate the younger generation of Afghans and push for unity.

Persuasion – Jane Austin

“Anne hoped she had outlived the age of blushing, but the age of emotion she certainly had not”. Persuasion tells the story of Jane Austen’s most mature protagonist, Anne Elliot, as she finds herself in the company of a past lover that she had once rejected. This past lover and right person, wrong time romantic trope is one I hadn’t explored before, but can definitely say are just as passionate as any other trope. It is a slow burner, however, I love that it takes the time to add color and depth to every character. From the ridiculously vain Elliot family to the pleasant and warm Croft family, there is a wonderful variety of characters that you will grow to either love or despise. The themes of growth and maturity really shine through in this novel, and it also reminds the reader of the importance of free mind and spirit. There is also a swoon-worthy letter in this story that I guarantee will leave any classic reader in awe!

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