Another update for those of you following along on my journey. For those who are new to it, I’ve joined a challenge when I’m reading 80 books from 80 different countries (or cultures.) I’m taking as long as I want to, but I have placed a budget of $20 for myself for the entire challenge. I’ve already read and reviewed books for England, Turkey, and Scotland.
Here’s my running tally:
England- $0 (Free e-book)
Turkey- $0 (It was a gift.)
Scotland- $0 (Free e-book)
Grand Total: $0
So I’m pretty much rocking it! And more great news: I haven’t spent a penny on either of these new ones. A Long Way Gone was something I picked up from the library and Hope Street, Jerusalem was a book I won in a giveaway on Mom’s Small Victories.
This book. Wow. I’m so glad I read it. There were a few times early on where I almost set it down for good. Because it’s intense. Really intense. Because what Beah went through was real, and intense. This book documents his experiences growing up in Sierra Leone in the 90s. For those of you who aren’t aware (because I wasn’t before I read the book,) there was a civil war going on there at the time, and Beah’s experiences go from normal life as a boy, to victim, to perpetrator (though arguable still a victim in this role,) to saved soul, to vocal advocate. His story is amazing. His story is important. His story spares no details.
It kind of made me ashamed to think of what I was going through during this time in juxtaposition to what he was going through. He’d mention 1993, I’d flash back to what was important to me then, and then he’d detail how he was witnesses senseless and gory mass murder committed in the name of war. While we sometimes insulate ourselves against what’s currently happening in our world because it makes us uncomfortable, I think it’s important to know. The 90s aren’t current anymore, but I do feel like I understand Sierra Leone a ton better than I did before reading this book. (Granted before this all I knew was that they were suffering due to the Ebola outbreak.) And it makes me feel like I should be keeping current on other things going on in the world, too, that I’m not immediately made aware of by mass media.
It was recommended by Kate Norris, who is also participating in the challenge (though we all set our own specific guidelines.) Thanks, Kate!
I have so many feelings about this book. It’s written by an Australian journalist. As such, I think I’m going to leave both Israel and Palestine on my list of countries I haven’t read yet. Because I’d like to get the perspective of the own country’s literature.
Anyways, there’s good and bad parts about it. It’s a memoir, so she’s documenting her own life. Her personal life isn’t all that interesting to me. She has a much younger boyfriend, but she doesn’t delve too far into emotion or details of the relationship. Rather, she paints with sweeping brushstrokes that give you a general idea of the excitement of new romance and then the slow degradation that happens in relationships you don’t tend to. Would have like a little more detail.
Also, this book is mostly about their dog. The dog helps her meet some interesting people, and if you’re a dog-lover this might be a spectacular read. I’m not a dog-hater by any means, but I can’t really empathize with training a puppy or equating your animal to a child. (It’s cool if you do that, I just haven’t in my life. Which made the whole thing kind of hard to connect to.)
It was also a bad choice to read this one directly after A Long Way Gone. After reading about Beah’s horrific experiences, Makler’s opening scene of getting hit in the jaw with a stone felt like whining. But that’s more due to my timing than the writing itself.
But the good parts of the book were about her encounters with the wide array of people that inhabit Jerusalem and surrounding areas. And she met many people due to her profession and her job. Those stories were super interesting. Might be worth the read just for that.
I think I’m going to take a break from novels set in war-torn countries for a while. I’m definitely not saying I won’t read anymore in this challenge. But I need a change of pace. It can get depressing and I need to find some happy in the world. So here’s my on-deck. Counting it as from Mexico:
Have any other suggestions for me? Here are the countries I already have covered:
Sweden: Roseanna by Maj Sjowall indirectly recommended by Northern Lights Reading Project
Norway: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder recommended by Poor Student
Israel: Hope Street, Jerusalem by Iris Makler
Canada: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat recommeded by Messy Money
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Nigeria: I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani recommended by Guiltless Reader
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Iceland: Scarcity in Excess by Arna Mathiesen & Thomas Forget
Sudan: The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih