Archive for June, 2009

Book : We Were The Mulvaneys
Author:Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Plume
ISBN-10: 0452277205
ISBN-13: 978-0452282827
Number Of Pages:464

We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

This book had been lying around for a long time on the shelf , when I finally picked it up to read it , it was because this was the first book that I could pull out on a rainy afternoon to while away my time. Now little did I know at that time ,that I would need more than an afternoon to finish this really beautiful piece of literature.

We Were The Mulvaneys..Odd choice for a title ,I thought. If they WERE then what are they now? What must have happened to them. You need to read a good 464 pages to see what happened to them and believe me you would want to know.

Story is set in 1970s chronicles the joys and tribulations of the Mulvaney family through the eyes of the youngest one ,Judd Mulvaney. A happy family is shattered on a Valentine’s Day when Marianne the beautiful daughter of Micheal and Corrine Mulvaney is raped by her senior at a party. Life is never the same again. Once a lively part of her group ,very popular Marianne is shunned by her friends ,family is looked down upon in the community. I know, what you must be thinking ,but it was 1970’s remember , so the social stigma still existed. The girl bears the brunt of the incident. Her parents distance her from them .This incident not only destroys Marianne life , it infectiously takes the life out of this family, it destroys a marriage. Eldest son Mikey Jr joins the marines , the second son Patrick hatches plans to get justice for his sister and the youngest sibling Judd ,our narrator is spectator to this family destruction. He says in the first few pages this account is like a family album ,something that his mom never kept during those days , only thing differing is ,its not all happy moments,its a full un cut account of his family’s grief.

The character I loved the most was Marianne . Her character if written today would have been given more tools to fight back after what happens to her but even without being the crusader who fights the system she endeared herself to me. Her decision of not supporting her father in filing a law suit against her rapist , makes her the victim of her father ‘s anger leading to being exiled. I wonder did her parents ever understand her? A soft spoken , beautiful girl , once loved by all ,she finds it difficult to like herself now. Some wounds take a really long time to heal and they aren’t all skin deep.

What was once a happy complete family is torn in to bits and shreds and scattered around. But can it be rebuilt again , after so many years ? Can they still be the Mulvaneys of High Point Farm ,that they used to be? To know that you need to read the book and find out.

My Favourite Reads -June18

Posted: June 18, 2009 in Uncategorized

This week’s choice for My Favorite Reads hosted by Alyce At Home With Books is Erich Segal’s Doctors.

This book is a favourite for many reasons. One of the main reasons being I identify with many aspects of the story as I am doctor myself. The medical school years portrayed by Segal bring back some really good memories. The struggles and dilemmas that form the central theme are the ones that every doctor goes through almost every other day. There is a euthanasia moral debate which is still the main agenda in many of the medical conferences. Then there is the story of friendship between Laura and Barney , the central characters who struggle to come to terms with the hardships of their profession along side handling really challenging personal lives.

Book summary from the back jacket:

Erich Segal sweeps us into the lives of the Harvard Medical School’s class of 1962.
His stunning novel reveals the making of doctors–what makes them tick, scheme, hurt . . . and love. From the crucible of med school’s merciless training through the demanding hours of internship and residency to the triumphs–and sometimes tragedies–beyond, “Doctors” brings to vivid life the men and women who seek to heal but who must first walk through fire. At the novel’s heart is the unforgettable relationship of Barney Livingston and Laura Castellano, childhood friends who separately find unsettling celebrity and unsatisfying love–until their friendship ripens into passion. Yet even their devotion to each other, even their medical gifts may not be enough to save the one life they treasure above all others. “Doctors” –heartbreaking, witty, inspiring, and utterly, grippingly real–is a vibrant portrait that culminates in a murder, a trial . . . and a miracle.

To an outsider its a view in to the turbulent lives of their healers and to the insiders its a recounting of the past experiences and a wake call that they need to take.

Here’s one of my favorite passage from the book:

‘Medical school provides the best substantiation for Charles Darwin’s Theory of natural selection.For here we see in its cruelest form the survival of the fittest. Not the smartest as one should expect. But the fittest to cope with the inhuman pressures, the demands made not only on the brain but on the psyche…………’

Its a gripping page turner all the way. Do read it ..

Book: Lock And Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
ISBN-10: 067001088X
ISBN-13: 978-0670010882
Hardcover: 432 pages

Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Reading level: Young Adult

Lock And Key by Sarah Dessen

From the front flap of the book:

“Ruby, where is your mother?”

Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return. That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future – it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?

Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.

My Views :

This was my second Sarah Dessen book and I couldn’t put it down till I had finished it. Its the ease with which she writes, that draws you in and makes you get totally involved with her characters. Ruby is a very independent sort of a girl who has never had a normal childhood given the fact that she and her alcoholic non dependable mother keep changing houses and jobs. Only time she depended on someone was when her elder sister Cora lived with them. That was a long time back. Even as a 17 yr old she has learnt to live alone and fend for herself when her mother takes off for days on end without bothering to inform her. This time when her mom leaves her alone, Ruby finds herself in front of a social worker who hands her over to her elder sister Cora and her husband Jamie as she is still not 18yrs to live on her own. All of a sudden she is brought in to a world she feels she doesn’t belong to and neither does she want to belong.

The book traces the journey of Ruby’s acceptance of the new family and friends and most importantly journey of self discovery and love. It takes a close look at the relationship that Cora and Ruby share earlier and now, when she comes to live with her . It talks of the difficulties faced when put in unexpected situations and how everything can be sorted out if we trust the people who care for us and love us and take a positive approach to life.

It also brings in to focus the abuse faced by kids at the hands of their parents and how reluctant they are in revealing it , even though they know there are people who can set things right for them.

Book gives a very positive message and makes you feel really good when you have reached the last page.I would recommend this book to all who love good YA reading.This book is my entry for the Sarah Dessen Mini Challenge hosted at Becky’s Book Reviews.

Review : Gently Falls The Bakula

Posted: June 16, 2009 in Reviews

Book: Gently Falls The Bakula
Author: Sudha Murty
Binding: Paperback
Publishing Date: 01-feb-2009

Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd

About This Book:
‘Shrikant was restless . . . Holding a bakula flower in his palm, he was wondering why he was fascinated by this tiny flower, that was neither as beautiful as a rose nor had the fragrance of a jasmine or a champaka. And yet, it was very special to him. It held an inexplicable attraction for him.’ Shrimati and Shrikant are neighbours and star students of their school in the small north Karnataka town of Hubli. It leaves no one in surprise when they come first and second respectively in the final Board exams. Soon Shrikant discovers he is strangely attracted to Shrimati, a plain-looking yet charming person, who always does better than him in the exams. Shrimati too falls in love with the amiable and handsome Shrikant and the two get married. Shrikant joins an IT company and starts rapidly climbing the corporate ladder. He works relentlessly and reaches the pinnacle of his industry, while Shrimati abandons her academic aspirations and becomes his uncomplaining shadow, silently fulfilling her duties as a corporate leader’s wife. But one day, while talking to an old professor, she starts examining what she has done with her life and realizes it is dismally empty . . .
Gently Falls the Bakula is the story of a marriage that loses its way as ambition and self-interest take their toll. Written nearly three decades ago, Sudha Murty’s first novel remains startlingly relevant in its scrutiny of modern values and work ethics.

My Views:

When I had picked up the book from the book store I had no idea of reading it so soon but just reading the first page drew me in to the story . I loved it from Line one. Summary on the book cover gives you a fair idea of what the story is but only by reading it do you understand the emotions filled in to the story . When I read about Shrimati , the protagonist ,I remembered so many women I knew who had done the same for their spouses.The commitment ,the sacrifices that go unsung and un noticed by the family and their husbands is not new but its very rarely talked about and much more rarely written about in such a beautiful manner. Women according to Indian traditions and so to say many other world cultures are supposed to stay at home ,cook and take care of the family willingly or unwillingly. This has come down from ages and not many households have changed their view on women’s rights or their independence financially or career wise.You might say that modern culture is different but look closely , Is it really that different? Even career women are expected to do what she would have done if she had stayed at home. Working doesn’t exempt her from being subjected to taunts from in laws or sometimes husband. Not generalising it but 70% of women go thru it.

Characters are really well written, and plot holds the imagination of the reader up to the last page. The idyllic life of Hubli-Dharwad, the harshness and hustle bustle of Mumbai are pictured in a way only Sudha Murthy could have done.The book neither justifies nor glorifies anybody ,but it tells a good deal about our choices ,be it good ones or bad ones , or the ones that make us who we are today. I loved the ending and I think it couldn’t have been concluded in a better way.

I would highly recommend this book. Read it and do tell me how you felt about it.

I have very often avoided reading award winning books. I used to think that those were meant for immensely intellectual sort of readers who can find the hidden meaning out of the lines which sometimes make no sense to a common person.I was so wrong.Really , really wrong. When I finished God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy I realised how prejudiced I had been about the reading choices. So I am plunging head on in to this Book Awards III Reading Challenge.

This Challenge being hosted at Book Awards Reading Challenge last for 5 months, from July 1 through December 1, 2009.

Rules :

  1. Read 5 books from 5 different awards during July 1, 2009 through December 1, 2009.
  2. Overlaps with other challenges are permitted.
  3. Choices don’t have to be posted right away, and lists may be changed at any time.
  4. ‘Award winners’ is loosely defined; make the challenge fit your needs.

Here’s my list ( though I might change one or two books depending on what’s available at my library)

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (World Fantasy Award 2006)

Beloved – Toni Morrison (Pulitzer Prize 1988)

Half Of A Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Orange Prize 2007)

Kaddish For A Child Not Born – Imre Kertesz (Nobel Prize 2002)

The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh (Arthur C Clarke Award 1997)