Quick Review: Into Another Life

These two books I read gave insight into lives very different from my own, set in different times and countries. Read at the end of July.

  • Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis
    • Rating: ★★★½ [ratings guide
    • I read some of Ellis’ books when I was a lot younger (probably around the target age, maybe a bit younger) but I didn’t really understand them because I had no context in which to place the stories. I perhaps vaguely knew there was a place called the Middle East, but I knew nothing about it so her stories mostly confused me. I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) believe that they were based in reality, that the stories probably did happen to someone.
      • Because of these confused early encounter, I wasn’t interested in Ellis’ work but the premise of this one was very intriguing and I knew it would at least be a quick read so I gave it a shot.
    • As I thought, a quick and intense read.
    • I think this would be a good educational read for middle grade. The romance is sweet and simple, as the political and geographical settings takes the centre stage. Some might criticize this book for being just another story about ‘tragic gays’, but I think the focus is really more on the political regime of the time (which resulted in tragic gays).
    • However, I found the ending very brutal. Realistic, perhaps, but tough to swallow. Books like this are important, because I think they can shake readers awake to some of the atrocities happening around the world, but how do you do that without scaring the reader too badly? I feel a bit petty thinking this, because whatever uncomfortable feeling you get from reading about something is far less than if you had actually experienced what you’re reading about, but I think there should be some offer of hope if the reader is to be motivated to act against the issues they’ve just read about. I’m not sure there’s enough of that in this book, though Ellis does included resources for those who want to learn further.
  • Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
    •  Rating: ★★★½ [ratings guide]
    • It had been awhile since I read any Murakami! I wanted to read one before heading to Japan, so I went for one of his most popular books.
    • I’m not sure why this one is popular, though. Maybe because it’s more accessible than something like Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World? Personally, I prefer the magical realism found in most of Murakami’s novels, but that’s nowhere to be in this one.  For me those touches of magic are what set his work apart and give it a distinct flavour. 
    • That being said, the Murakami prose I’ve grown to love is ever present. That’s the key to his works for me – I can read anything he wishes to write about, as long as it’s done in his signature style. That’s how I made it through 1Q84 😛 
    • Overall, I still enjoyed the story. It was a very nice read during a quiet weekend at the lake. It just isn’t the Murakami novel I’d champion above all others.