Paradise Taken: The Diary of Eden Flores Part I By Omar Gonzalez

When the innocence of a child is tainted by the gruesome realities of the world, then paradise becomes an unattainable dream.

Paradise Taken: The Diary of Eden Flores Part I is a collection of true events about a girl named Eden Flores. The author, Omar Gonzalez, captures Eden’s life experiences remarkably in this book and shares them with us in the form of stories and poems. 

The book begins with stories about Eden’s childhood and her family. The family visits her parents’ native place called El Paraiso (“Paradise”). Here, Eden first realizes after witnessing certain events that life is far from being anywhere close to a paradise. As young kids, Eden and her brothers would always look for reasons to escape so they could avoid the chaos and violence at home. But, even the outside world had its perils and dangers which she soon experienced. The ordeal just gets worse, making it an immersive reading experience. 

All Eden ever wanted was a life filled with smiles and simple joys with her family. But how does one cope when family inflicts the most amount of pain? There are many things in this world that we take for granted and don’t appreciate enough, Paradise Taken is a book that makes us realize that. 

It discusses themes around racism, religion, sorrow, suffering, domestic violence, and sexual child abuse. The careful interweaving of stories and poems provide an impactful narrative that stay with you after the last page.

Also find my review on Reedsy.

A Season of Disruption by Jacqueline P Walker

#BookReview
Cultural|Ethnic|Family|Loss|Courage

This beautifully written memoir is heartwarming and inspirational. Life can present us with unpredictable situations for which we aren’t ready most of the times. One such event occurred in the life of an eight-year-old child and this story is about how the family faces this devastating loss. What makes this book so powerful is the determination and courage of the family during times of distress.

When Murna Moreland loses her husband, the responsibility of her five young children falls upon her. Being a homemaker, she has no idea how to provide for her family. So she entrusts her eldest daughter, Hope, to take on the role of a guardian for her younger siblings. Murna goes to the United States to work so she can provide her children with a better life.

During the time away from their mother, the five siblings continue to live their life diligently while taking care of each other. Murna works hard every single day without losing hope and by curbing her fears so she can reunite with her family soon.

A Season of Disruption is a short yet impactful memoir written by Jacqueline P Walker. It discusses death, family, relationships, courage, and hope. Through her story, we can learn how to face challenges, and even though things might seem like they are falling apart at the moment, they will eventually fall back into place. It’s all about holding onto hope and staying strong.

Synopsis of A Season of Disruption by Jacqueline P Walker,

Obstacles are a part of life. Overcoming them motivates others to persevere and soar! A Season of Disruption is a fictional memoir that tells a story of courage, love, and the willpower to withstand challenges that often break and defeat families.

Widowed due to a twist of fate, Murna Moreland, a Caribbean homemaker, makes a nearly unimaginable choice. She leaves her children—alone— in Jamaica and journeys to the US to find opportunities. Murna anticipates that she will be able to have the children join her soon.

Meanwhile, with their father’s death and mother’s departure, 15-year-old Hope assumes guardianship for her four younger siblings. Together the children strive to survive, believing that the separation from their mother will be brief.

In the US, Murna diligently focuses on reuniting her family but obstacles delay and derail her plan. Unwilling to accept defeat, she crafts a risky scheme that will either quickly bring her family back together or keep them apart indefinitely.

You can also find my review on the website: Reedsy

The Girl in the Tree by Şebnem İşigüzel

Book Review

Fiction|Trauma|Family Strife|Love

A Girl in the Tree written by Şebnem İşigüzel is a story of a girl who has given up on the world and decides to live in the trees. It is an emotional tale of a teenage girl who talks about Gezi protests in Turkey, constant war in Istanbul, bombing attacks, political realities, and violence in society. The harsh realities and the tragic events leave her with no hope of a better world. So, she runs away and climbs one of the tallest trees in Istanbul’s Gülhane Park. Here she reveals multiple reasons that have led her to take this drastic step of spending the rest of her life in the trees. But, a kind and helpful soul comes around like a glistening ray of hope and an unexpected love story unfolds.

The girl is disappointed and frustrated and does not want to reveal her identity. It all starts with the death of her favorite singer. As the story progresses she shares how she loses her two best friends in a bombing attack. Like her mind, which is in a state of disorder, the girl narrates the events in a disorderly fashion, transitioning from the past to the present.

The girl talks about her dysfunctional family and how she has grown up seeing her mother living a sad and lonely life. She is passionate about writing but is brutally criticized by her school teacher much to her despair. The girl shares all these memories while being perched in a stork’s nest. She hops, skips, and jumps from one branch to another, from one tree to another to avoid being seen by the people in the park.

A bell boy, Yunus, who works in a hotel near the park notices the girl and helps by bringing food, water, and warm clothes. He regularly checks up on her and protects her. They get close and share stories of their past. Yunus showers her with love and care, and even ends up losing his job while trying to protect her. He offers her to run away with him and start a new life but The Girl in the Tree is determined to live the rest of her life away from the emotional miseries of the world.

The Girl in the Tree is a Turkish fictional novel translated by Mark David Wyers. It deals with the struggles of the common people in Istanbul where there is no freedom of speech or women’s rights. All there’s left is grief, political strife and violence. Hence, the girl believes that living in the trees is the only way to attain spiritual freedom. This book has a unique and bold tone where the girl is directly interacting with the readers. The rage and unrest that she is going through is captured extremely well.

I recommend that you give this book a read if you’re intrigued by the offbeat story that is set in a violent political background.

Cluster

There is hardly anything new left for me to see outside my window. The trees stand calmly as always, clustered together. Sometimes still, sometimes swaying with the wind.

The lawn is green and beautiful. Now and then, I see people on it who bring their dogs out for a walk. The streets are empty, mostly parked cars. There is just a driveway in my community. My community is wonderful but it is also very quiet and can sometimes be boring.

Earlier, I used to get excited looking at the different varieties of birds outside my window. I still do, but they haven’t become my friends yet! Like I said, life here is calm and quiet. Just what I had always dreamed of.. but do we really know what we want?

Today, I had an urge to peep into the houses of my neighbours. Just for a change, to see what other people are up to.. What are they cooking? What are they wearing? Which show is running on their TV? Did I just hear someone arguing? Are the children up to some mischief?

These silly things which I took for granted and found annoying back in India are the things that I often miss. I look outside my window and find trees clustered together. Back home, my family, friends, and neighbours were the clustered trees. Together. Now I wonder, what I am doing here away from my tribe? Where is my cluster?

Photo by Secret Garden on Pexels.com

Sharing Life

Day 25 Inktober – Buddy

He held her hand and showed her the world through his eyes.

She looked up to him and followed him around.

Sometimes he wouldn’t share his things and make her feel sad.

But he would make up to it by taking her on a bicycle ride.

Together they spent hours building with Lego blocks and playing pranks.

Together they laugh, they play games, they fight, they share stories, and their lives.

Her first buddy – her brother, because friendships always start at home.

Distant Together

At the crack of dawn, far across the river, Ahiya can sense the microphone turning on in a mosque near her village. Within seconds the Azaan will start, the early morning call to prayer.

She lightly rubs her eyes and leaps out of bed. It’s Eid today!

Ahiya goes out of her bedroom cheerfully, half expecting to see her parents in the living area. She gives herself a low-spirited smile when she finds no one in the house. It was her decision to move to a new country, not theirs.

She has set up a cozy home for herself in a faraway Western land. All her life, she was told to educate herself and be successful. Success was to move to a first world country to fulfill your dreams. This was considered to be the ultimate achievement in life. People who get a job and move to the West were revered by families in her home town.

Ahiya grew up with the same dreams and hopes that some day, she will make herself and her family proud by chasing those dreams. Now, her dreams have come true. Then, why is she not happy? Nobody told her that life would never be the same. Nobody told her that the sense of belonging would be lost. Nobody told her how lonely she would feel and that she would be thousands of miles away from her family.

Ahiya shakes her head and dismisses away the thoughts. Today the distance will not come in her way of celebrating one of her most favorite festivals. Eid is the day on which loved ones come together to pray and embrace each other. It is the day of charity, of being grateful, and of forgiveness. Also of course, it is the day of feasting on exquisite, delicious food.

Enthusiastically, Ahiya starts prepping for the day while eating her morning oatmeal. She glides through the kitchen, gathering all the ingredients that she will need for today’s elaborate feast. She turns on the radio, listens to songs and starts chopping vegetables recalling the pleasant childhood memories.

There is always incessant chatter and sound of music in the air during Eid in her hometown. Kids run around the house, grandparents talk loudly on the phones wishing relatives, ma is always busy in the kitchen preparing multiple dishes, and baba does all the other house chores while also entertaining and taking care of the children. In the background, the tape recorder fills the air with music from Sabri Brothers and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Ahiya’s fond memory of this day is peeling off mehendi from her palms. The first thing to do on every morning of Eid. A curiosity to find out how dark the color of the mehendi on her palm has turned out to be. Once all the mehendi flakes were off, she rubbed coconut oil on her palms and went up running to her amma and baba to show them her orange-colored palms. More than the color she enjoyed watching their faces light up with pride and joy.

Back in the kitchen, Ahiya hums along with the songs on the radio and marinates the chicken, roasts dry fruits in ghee for the dessert, and grinds spices in a mortal pestle. The rising aromas in the kitchen leave her grinning from ear to ear. Light on her feet, Ahiya is focused on getting all the flavours right.

After spending hours in the kitchen, Ahiya finally steps out feeling like a conqueror and rushes for a quick shower. She offers her Eid ki namaz, filled with gratitude and thanks the Lord for all His blessings.

It is time to set up the dining table with the lavish food, Chicken Dum Biryani, Kheema Kababs, Harira, Sheer Khurma, and Phirni. Ahiya dresses up in a traditional lehenga and kurti and sits down on the dining table to video call her parents.

“Eid Mubarak!” she says and beams happily upon seeing their loving, smiling faces. Excitedly she narrates the stories of her day and patiently listens to theirs. An hour long conversation and greetings leave Ahiya content.

Blissful.

 

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

My dear girls, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

I have been a silent observer of your marvelous life story. How much I adore each one of you, I feel I know you all oh-so immensely. For this, I thank Louisa May Alcott for bestowing upon the world this wonderful, sweet story.

Many moral lessons have been wrapped around each one of my little sisters. How splendidly you’ve all grown to become women of high praise and beauty.

Meg, a girl with many dreams settles with a man who loves her true and deep. You make a wise decision of choosing love over rich fantasies. Regardless, Meg, your two beautiful souls, Daisy and Demi, are worth more than all the riches of the world.

Jo, my love. You are a diamond in the rough. Your strong will, challenging nature, talent, wit, and kindness inspire all the women, one of them being me, to be better than they can ever be. How could you be lonely, when you are surrounded by us who love you so dearly, just the way you are. 

Beth, a delicate beauty with a compassionate soul. How the hearts cried to see you in pain and misery. Yet sweet Beth calmed the crumbled hearts like a gentle autumn rain, like a little bird with its many soothing melodies.

Amy, a mischievous little girl grows up to be a charming beauty. How the worldly travels and experiences have turned you into a fine artistic lady. A keeper of Laurie’s heart, you have gotten the best of all, a lifetime of love, happiness, and memories.

Laurie, my sweet lad. You chose Jo for which I will always love you so. It hurt to see your heart break. Guess, it was all for the best. For eventually, you chose happiness and gave me hope that you would not end up being miserable and lonely. You and Amy were meant to be. 

No matter the hardships, life has taught the March family, dearest Laurie, and the readers to find happiness in little things and to face difficulties with a smile. This book creates a wonderful imagery by taking you back into the good old world where life was simple and beautiful. The Little Women is about family, love, friendship, and togetherness. This book will always hold a special place in my heart.

Yours Lovingly!

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My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

Crime|Dramedy|Unsettling|Family

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My Sister, the Serial Killer, is a story of two sisters, Korede and Ayoola. Ayoola kills and Korede protects. This pretty much sums up the entire story.

What makes it interesting to read is the unique narration by Oyinkan Braithwaite, where a dark theme is narrated with a comic element. Though a short novel, you cannot help but get involved with the characters.

Korede, the elder sister is a nurse by profession. She is reliable, hard-working, and fiercely protective of her younger sister. At the same time she is also resentful of her sister’s flawless beauty.

Ayoola is a carefree, happy-go-lucky soul who always gets what she wants and she is used to men falling in love with her beauty almost instantly. She is extremely close to her sister and shares all her secrets with Korede, including the murders of her boyfriends.

Every time, Ayoola kills a man, she summons her sister by saying, “Korede, I killed him.” As always, Korede goes running to save Ayoola and tries her best to clean up her mess. But, what happens when Korede’s long love interest, Tade, falls for Ayoola’s beauty too? Will she save her sister or Tade?

My Sister, the Serial Killer, is Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel. It is a dark comic fictional story which is easy to read and the story flows really well. At first, you feel the storyline does not progress beyond Ayoola’s beauty, how she is the favorite child, and Korede though being smart always feels worthless. But soon, the story picks up pace, a lot more characters come into the picture and the story evolves.

When Korede finds out that, “More than three murders makes you a serial killer”, she is clearly frightened and worried for her sister. Ayoola’s merry disposition after committing the crimes makes it all the more weird. Introducing another character in the story, Muhtar – a coma patient, who is Korede’s only source of comfort and companion with whom she shares all her secrets and thoughts.

My Sister, the Serial Killer, deals with crime, loyalty, love, an abusive father, and gender roles. This tale also has undertones of self-worth, dependency and frustration with Korede always feeling that she is a step behind Ayoola. It is about family-ties, where both the sisters feed off each other and are equally guilty of their crimes. Ayoola for committing them and Korede for hiding them. Like the author herself says, “They are two sides of the same coin.” This book is a quick, fun, and interesting read.

Gathering Pieces

Her family was broken

She gathered pieces

Every single day

& put them together.

They would fall apart

Every single day.

With tears dropping from her eyes

She gathered the pieces

All over again.

With a single hope,

That some day

They realise through her

That no matter how difficult life gets

You need to keep aside your weakness

Put on a brave face

& keep your loved ones content.