Hello! I can’t believe today is the last day of The Reading Quest! These four weeks have really flown by and I’ve had so much fun. I’m very happy I managed to complete my goal and read 25 books, and even more happy to have discovered some amazing diverse authors who’s backlists I can’t wait to explore. Thank you so much to Aentee for hosting this challenge. You’re amazing.
OPEN WORLD: The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine, 4 stars
“Listen. Let me take you on a journey beyond imagining. Let me tell you a story.”
The Hakawati is a novel made up of lots and lots of stories. It’s also a novel about stories. It reads just like a modern day A Thousand and One Nights, mixing classic middle eastern tales with the stories of several generations of one Lebanese family.
I really enjoyed reading this book. The stories within are enchanting and Rabih Alameddine is a magnificent writer. But it didn’t quite live up to my beloved An Unnecessary Woman.
TIME WARP: The Invisible Mountain by Carolina De Robertis, 5 stars
I’d planned on reading a different book for this challenge, but once I picked it up I realized I wasn’t in the mood for it at all. So I searched my mom’s shelves for a replacement and found this, and I’m so glad I did – cause this might be my favorite of all the books I’ve read for The Reading Quest.
In a small town in Uruguay the first day of a new century is always accompanied by a miracle. On the first day of 1900 the miracle is the reappearance of a lost infant, Pajarita, in the top of a tree. The Invisible Mountain is split into three parts. The first part is Pajarita’s story; the second part tells her daughter Eva’s story; and the third part is Eva’s daughter Salomé’s story. I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy all the parts equally, or that following three generations of women in the same family from childhood into marriage and motherhood would become repetitive. Luckily, that’s not the case at all. Pajarita, Eva and Salomé are all fiercely independent, brave women who lead bright and interesting lives. I loved each of them wholeheartedly and would’ve gladly read about 3 or 6 or 9 more generations. I also loved reading about Uruguay, I country I know very little about, and learning more about the political turmoil in Latin America during the 20th century.
This is an exuberant whirlwind of a novel, that’ll take you on an unforgettable and emotional journey. Once you meet them, I can guarantee that Pajarita, Eva and Salomé will stay in your mind, and in your heart for a very long time. I can’t recommend it enough.
A FAIRY TALE RETELLING: Drown by Esther Dalseno, 3 stars
When I read about this book I actually gasped. A twisted take on the The Little Mermaid. That’s all I’ve ever wanted from life in one sentence. I was absolutely positive I was going to adore this. Unfortunately I had some problems with it.
There are some very problematic things in this novel. At one point a characters says this about another character who has attempted suicide “…he loves himself so little he recently tried to slaughter his own body. But if he does not love himself, how is he capable of loving you?” (Basically implying suicidal people are incapable of love). Later when the same character seems happier and healthier, people speculate about whether he’s been brain damaged and muse that “If he were indeed brain-damaged, then everyone could do with a bit more brain damage in their lives.” Which is a horribly insensitive thing to write. There’s also some sexist statements and sentiments that go largely unchallenged in the narrative, such as the word woman being used as an insult.
That being said, I still think this is a good novel. It has the best world-building and backstory I’ve seen in a book about mermaids. The world beneath the sea is described beautifully in all it’s splendor. There’s a dark and haunting quality to the prose, and plot is engaging and never boring. It could’ve easily been a new favorite, if only some parts had been taken out/edited. It’s such a shame this one didn’t live up to it’s potential.
TW: Suicide, self harm.
To wrap it up, here’s my final stats:
Books read: 25
Pages read: 9319