Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

I was able to read this book over the weekend – a random choice. I haven’t heard about the book before not even did I try to read what the plot is. Anyway, I chanced upon Before I Fall, the debut novel of Lauren Oliver. It was a quick and easy read.

The prologue opened with a line that goes: “They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.” Then and there I was automatically hooked. The story was told by the main character, Sam Kingston. Everything started with her death.

Her demise flashed right before her eyes and she had to re-live her last day over and over for a week. You know how the Butterfly Effect goes? A principle in chaos theory states that minute differences may, over time lead to an unforeseen consequence. So this is what Sam had to live with (or die with).

Sam and her friends are the typical High School Mean Girls. Yes, they thrive in their popularity, oftentimes at the expense of putting others down. At times, the turn of events reminded me of the movie, Jawbreaker, and how the ‘it’ girls just rule the stage setting all the ‘uncool’ ones on the side.

I guess it painted a vivid picture of how high school was. Some peaked in high school, while some felt it was the worst period of their lives. For those who flourished, well then and good. But there are some who are pushed to the edge and fall.

This brings us to the pivotal character in the story. Juliet Sykes.

Her presence turns the story over and over.

At this point I can’t help but remember a parallel episode in One Tree Hill: With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept. This was the most heart wrenching episode for me. The Jimmy Edwards shooting spree. Jimmy Edwards’ suicide. Some give in to the pressures of high school.

In that episode, a character had something to say which moved me:

Mouth: It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The artists, and the scientists, and the poets…none of them fit in at seventeen. You’re supposed to get past it. Adults, they see kids killing kids and they know its a tragedy because they used to be those kids. The bullies and the beaten and the loners. You’re supposed to get past it. You’re supposed to live long enough to take it back. Just take it all back.

Now going back, the book is really engaging. At times I swore I hated Sam, her friends, their petty lives. However, of all the things the book touched on, friends, family, school, sex and the ‘misunderstood teen,’ I guess the most essential part of this book is how bullying affects people. At one way or another, it scars them and these are things that we can never take back. 

For a first novel, the writing is really good!

Some quotes I like from the book:

“It amazes me how easy it is for things to change, how easy it is to start off down the same road you always take and wind up somewhere new. Just one false step, one pause, one detour, and you end up with new friends or a bad reputation or a boyfriend or a breakup. It’s never occurred to me before; I’ve never been able to see it. And it makes me feel, weirdly, like maybe all of these different possibilities exist at the same time, like each moment we live has a thousand other moments layered underneath it that look different.”

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.” 

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The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

A trilogy in a weeks’s time, considering the amount of work I have to do simultaneous to it, speaks only of one thing —- the book must be really good. And I say yeah! I finished the last book of The Hunger Games trilogy a few hours back and I already miss them. Crazy!

Set in a highly dystopian future, with the country divided in several districts ruled by the Capitol – the Hunger Games was born. Each year, 2 teenagers are drawn from each district as Tributes to outwit, outplay and outlast one another until one Victor emerges. This is a reminder of the grim and gore that rebellion brought about in the Dark Days, most likely to happen should people decide to revolt again.

I guess the beauty of the book is its ability to balance so many sub-stories – the shady politics, the pitfalls of war, the strength of its characters and yeah, the romance. How can a book survive without that, right? 🙂 The stubbornness, indecisiveness of Katniss (the lead female character) makes her endearing. Like her, I was torned siding between Peeta (the baker boy who’s loved her forever) or Gale (the hunter friend who knew her too well). She eventually chose, and I think if I was in her shoes, I’d share that decision with her. Whatever that is 🙂

On a more serious note, the book tackles the cancers of the government, politics and all the cun and deceit. Everyone’s motivated by their own agendas, the only question is, would it benefit a fraction or a greater part of the whole? This is a good practice too, to test your trust. For someone who’s got so much faith in people, I was at a loss on who to rightfully trust. In the end, one thing rings true, no one really is a victor of war. It deprives you of a home. It nabs you of a loved one. It consumes you, in one way or the other. Should you overcome it, it scars you forever.

So if you have some time to spare, go grab the book. It’s a worthy read. Plus, you might wanna read it before it hits the cinemas this March.

Good night! 🙂

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

Every Mitch Albom book I ever read, I read in one sitting. He writes so simply yet he manages to make his story engaging making you want to go and finish the entire thing.

For One More Day is a story about a son, his mother and second chances.

Ask yourself, “Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever?”

A lot of us fall for this trap. We think people are immortal and it dumbfounds us when they’re gone the next day. I felt this true for my grandmother. She lived with us for as long as I can remember. There were times that she’d engage me into a conversation but like almost everyone, I was too busy to let it linger.  I wasn’t even able to ask what her parents’ names were. And as I try to scan both digital and the classic bulky photo albums, a picture of us together is something I cannot find. 😦 This makes me feel ashamed. I have like a million photos, I even have one with Batista, how come none with my grandma?!

My favorite device on this book is how Mitch Albom sporadically inserted Charley’s (lead character) vignettes on: 

Times My Mother Stood Up for Me

Times I Did Not Stand Up for My Mother

This pretty much paints a picture of something that we can all agree to — that the former would often outnumber the latter at any child’s life. Our moms, well, they can drive us crazy, and times it can be true, ”Children get embarrassed by their parents.” However, no matter how much we push them further with our stubbornness and cold hearts, they’re like elastics that would go no other way but back.

When you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Yey! I finished another book. Bought this one from Vietnam last May and only found time to read it on weekends and today ‘coz work was called off. This is now a motion picture and I can remember that its DVD’s been sitting in my mom’s collection for quite a while – good thing I didn’t watch it even if my favorite girl since Dakota Fanning, Abegail Breslin was in it. 

It was my first time to read a Picoult and I must say I enjoyed her writing. 

They say there’s no bond like sisters. I pretty know for sure. I’ve been sharing a room with my sister since we were kids up until she got married. We dreamt together, shared stories while gazing up our glow-in-the-dark star-filled ceiling before hitting the sack. Our 4-year gap never really was a gap. So knowing how it is to have and love a sister, I kind of related with the story.

However, more than a story about sisters, this is a story about a family and the choices each one makes that affect the whole. In this case, it’s whether to grant a 13-year old kid, Anna Fitzgerald, medical emancipation from her parents to keep her from donating her kidney to her dying older sister, Kate, who she has been helping all her life to survive. The power of this novel is how this conflict is seen from different perspectives, from each of the family members, the counsel and the guardian ad litem. In the end, I never really got to figure out who had the best point or what’s really right or wrong. You can’t really blame her mom for putting her through this to save the other kid’s life, nor the dad for letting it just happen and Anna for wanting to break free.

I guess no matter what decisions they make, it’s important to note that they made it out of love, thinking that this is the best for everyone even if it means sacrificing a little something.

“There are always sides. There is always a winner and a loser. For every person who gets, there’s someone who must give. ” 


Gave Harry Potter a try

My usual self would say no to something that everyone likes. The reason why I never watched Harry Potter, why I didn’t fall gaga over Twilight.

But,

I finally succumbed to my boyfriend’s persistency. I gave in to Harry Potter and ended up watching all 7 of it in 3 days. Wow, I didn’t know this series was so addicting.

In no time, I got enveloped in the world that is Hogwarts, of tongue binding spells, of love potions, of Quidditch and You-Know-Who.

I guess it brings out the geek in me. And I’m thinking of pushing this geekiness a little further.

 

What if I read all 7 books?

What ya think?

Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

Finally finished this book which has been with me to numerous places already – by the beach, on the plane, in a boat, while looking at hot air balloons and so forth. 

I actually saw my sister reading this, and yes, she is married so all the more that I got curious what the book has to offer with a title that kind of says it all.

However, reading this has helped me contemplate on my personal life in so many ways. I guess all of us would have, at one point or another, been struck by the what-might-have-beens or could-have-beens of life. Yet, this defies the very basic belief that everything happens for a reason. Where we are right now is a product of our actions and of a greater plan carefully written by God. 

Love, yes, it is not surging passion, for that kind of emotion is fleeting, changing and never constant. Love is always a choice and it takes a brave soul to decide and stick with it.