Burned Alive by Souad.
This book depicts the terrible cruelty of honour killings and the questionable practices present among certain tribes. Written in a first-person POV, this book shares the journey of Souad, a woman from the West Bank who was burned alive by her own brother in-law but escaped death thanks to Jacqueline; a European humanitarian, who nursed her back to health.
The book is split into two parts; Souad’s and Jacqueline’s. The first and major part was that of Souad’s story, where she described the horrible conditions that women were subjected to live in. They were considered “less than animals, because animals bring profit and women bring nothing but trouble” – a paraphrased quote from Souad’s own father was enough to establish the cruelty women endure on a daily basis.
The language used was fairly straightforward and it didn’t take me long to finish but it was mostly due to the story being so… intense.
Sadly though, this isn’t a true memoir and it’s undetermined whether the content is fictional or not but I loved it nonetheless. It opened my eyes to the horrific practices that are still prevalent in some parts of the world. It made me more aware of the different cultures and how they interpret and practice religion. A good read if you’ve got a few days to spare.
You can find it on GoodReads here.
Crank Trilogy by Ellen Hopkins
This YA trilogy tells the story of Kristina, a crystal meth addict. She is closely based on the author’s own daughter who also shares the same addiction. The first book introduces Kristina’s tumultuous relationship with the ‘monster’ that she first encountered when she met a boy during her summer visit to her no-good father. It was during this phase that she discovered her alter-ego, Bree, when she was under the influence of the drug.
The second book follows up with Kristina’s attempt to rehabilitate herself from the drug and her journey towards recovery. Nevertheless, it failed miserably and she went back to her old ways, sinking even lower than before.
The last book is the most captivating because it was told from Kristina’s children’s POV, who described the psychological baggage that came with being born from an addict. This book left a powerful message and was worded very differently from the first two. Kristina’s roller coaster of a life as a mother was revealed in snippets by each child who had their own fair share of things to say about her.
Easily, this trilogy is my favourite YA series to read this year. I remember seeing Crank multiple times in bookstores but never bothered to pick it up (probably because it didn’t have a picture of a fucking vampire or some shit). I think it’s a little sad that I’ve only just discovered this book earlier this year because it could’ve been a much more enjoyable read if I’d been a teenager. However, I do have to caution that the overall ending will leave a bad taste in your mouth. To me, it’s all because of Kristina. She is the most infuriating main character I’ve ever encountered, to be honest. Still, loved it.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I know, I’m very late to the party.
This book tells the story of Esther Greenwood who seemed to have her life all sorted out but was slowly descending into madness. Written from a first person POV, Esther described her mental state through crisp, monotonous monologues that sometimes came across as pretentious. However, the deeper you get into the book, the more you get used to it because you start to understand Esther’s thought process. The way she described her multiple suicide attempts were very blasé and that was quite unsettling to read, to be honest.
I won’t say I enjoyed the experience of reading the book but it was deeply moving to step into Esther’s mind and watch her spiral into madness. It’s one of those books that is undeniably great but will not be reread immediately after. It’s a heavy book and took me a while to finish because of its writing style. This book is swimming in issues that not most would want to talk about – especially women. As I’m typing this, I’m considering reading it again. Maybe I’ll go out and buy the physical copy for that ultimate satisfaction.
That’s that. Hasn’t been a great year for reading but better than the previous. Maybe I’ll use this as an opportunity to read more books. Strive to read 100. Be that overachiever I’ve always feared to be.
Or I could stick to online articles because that seems to be my reading fix.