Hello! I originally wrote the following blog post around the second week of August but something came up and I wasn’t able to finish it in time for mid-August posting, my apologies!
August is off to a great start, methinks. It’s only been almost two weeks and I’ve already finished four books—who would’ve thought! I remember mentioning in one of my previous posts how my academics really put me in a reading slump because most of the time, I’d rather just be studying or else I’ll feel too guilty doing anything else, especially when it’s recreational reading. But as I type this I’m realizing how great of a month August has been so far when it comes to my reading progress, I am just overly glad to have caught the momentum again.
On that note, I wanted to commemorate this little milestone by dedicating an entire post to the books I’ve recently read this month!
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This was the first book I finished this month and I’m still a little unsure as to how I feel about it. This novel presents an interesting narrative, one centred around motherhood and the social privileges that come with one’s class and race. Family dynamics were particularly explored and we are introduced to fairly flawed characters that are very much human. I’d say for the plot and narrative alone, I would totally recommend this to anyone. However, I had a problem with the writing specifically—I thought it was a little too tame. In a way, I found Ng telling me everything I needed to know instead of just showing me. I was looking forward to a more creative exposition and not a monotoned, straightforward one.
Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford
In the afterword, Crawford writes, “Here is the most generous gift of speaking up, of ‘coming forward,’ as they say, and it’s a wildly gracious turn: that my story might cause others not to hear my voice but might allow them, perhaps for the first time, to hear their own.” However, I think what I liked most about this memoir was that it managed to do exactly both of these. It is a challenging read that tackles power and privilege without decentralizing the victim’s narrative therefore amplifying the theme of representation, and at the same time maintains a distinguishing voice that is clearly reflected in Crawford’s writing in such a way that truly taps on the reader’s empathy at full extent.
I also have to note that I was quite impressed by the way Crawford managed to create a distinctive boundary between the incident and the person she had become at the time of writing, as if signifying her full understanding of what it meant to reclaim her power and most importantly, the right to her personal experience. At the end of the day, I think that Notes on a Silencing is so much more than the institution itself and the extent of its power and the privileges it possesses, but more about the freedom and strength that comes with reclaiming one’s narrative as a victim—no matter how long it may take. Crawford’s work is almost like a reassurance that someone’s story never truly loses its value, even after years of being coerced to silence.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
This one was a lovely and quick read. The Awakening is the story of Edna Pontellier, both a wife and a mother, in which the narrative gradually unfolds as Edna experiences emotional and sexual awakening. There is no denying the fact that it is a feminist novel — a literary work that truly shocked its contemporary when it was first released in 1899, a time in history that largely involved the modernism movement.
Through Edna’s rebellion (and in consideration of the wave of modernism that took place at the time), the novel critiques the dominant patriarchal reality and how it affects women’s reality in return. The ending was one I did not see coming — and although most of the reviews I’ve read didn’t quite like that ending, I though it was fitting. Perhaps it was Chopin’s brutal and somewhat poetic way of retaliating against a system that doesn’t benefit the modern woman. Even after I’ve finished it, The Awakening truly did leave me thinking.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Now this one really had me hooked right from the first page. The writing is incredible — simple and direct, but had a particular punch to it and it truly kept me on my toes the whole time that I literally couldn’t stop turning the pages.
From the way each chapter was told I sensed that the story was so carefully structured (and calculated, too) and I really appreciated that; it doesn’t reveal much, and Michaelides gives you just enough crumbs of information to want to keep going. Whenever I’m reading genre fiction this is usually something I’m very particular about, I don’t want the author telling me everything I need to know — I need just enough information to have me map the plot out on my own. And my goodness, I’m actually so proud of myself to have figured out the plot twist right off the bat! I had a feeling about this certain character and I was waiting for them to slip up, and at some point they did, and I thought, well it had to be them and I was right!
Lastly, this was darker than I expected (which in my case, is okay because that’s exactly what I’ve been looking for) and I can very much vouch for the reviews that say it’s one of the best psychological thrillers they’ve read, because it’s definitely one of the best ones I’ve read, too.