What I’m Reading: The Color of Our Sky

From the book jacket:

A sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993.

India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before. As time goes by, their bond grows to be as strong as that between sisters. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room.

Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family.

Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.

My review:

I understand the importance behind the subject matter of this novel, as it deals with real-life issues that are still important today, but the writing itself fell short of my expectations.

It was pretty easy to figure out early on how the story would end, and I think that was the first clue that The Color of Our Sky wouldn’t live up to my expectations. The remaining chapters dragged on for too long and I felt that the only reason why I kept reading was because I thought something “big” was going to happen. Everything was a bit anticlimactic, IMO.

This isn’t to say that it didn’t tug at my heartstrings at all. Reading the parts of Mukta’s childhood was difficult – even more so knowing this is something that happens in real life. It just needed a bit more to really pull me in.

Overall, I didn’t love The Color of Our Sky, but I didn’t dislike it either. I just feel it needed a bit more polishing and the storyline could’ve been a bit better.

My rating: ★★★/5

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What I’m Reading: Where the Crawdads Sing

From the book jacket:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My review:

I was easily skeptical of all the hype behind this book, so it took me a while to finally give in and see what all the fuss was about. Even after I finally bought it, I was unsure for the first couple of chapters but something finally reeled me in and I was hooked. (Fishing puns definitely not intended.)

Where the Crawdads Sing is quietly powerful, and I couldn’t help but feel heartache for Kya as she desperately longed to feel simply accepted for who she was, and frustration towards those who didn’t understand her.

I believe the author did a fantastic job using detailed description throughout the book without making it too long-winded; it was almost poetic, in some ways, and every detail had a purpose.

I don’t regret my decision to finally pick up Where the Crawdads Sing, and I think it certainly lived up to its hype.

My rating: ★★★★★/5

What I’m Reading: Paper Towns

From the book jacket:

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew… 

My review:

I’m not generally drawn to YA books, but I really enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars, so when I was gifted Paper Towns I was pleased to take on another John Green read.

I was quiet surprised by how much I actually enjoyed this one, even though at times I thought Margo seemed overly philosophical for a 17/18-year old girl, and most definitely selfish. I wasn’t particularly a fan of her character, but I don’t think Green actually intended for us to cheer for her. The true story, for me, was the bond between Q and his friends.

Green did an excellent job in creating Q, Ben and Radar’s friendship; they are a fairly accurate representation of most 18-year old boys and their friendships – constantly ragging on one another but sticking by each other’s sides when things go a little nuts.

While I’ll never quite understand Q’s obsession with Margo, I can understand why he wanted to find her. I can also see the bigger picture Green wanted us to see – that despite how well you think you know someone, there’s a lot more underneath the surface.

A lot of other reviewers compared Paper Towns to Looking for Alaska, but since I’ve yet to read the latter, I can’t judge. Paper Towns was light enough to breeze through relatively quickly, but still thought-provoking enough to make it interesting and not just a bunch of drivel.

My rating: ★★★★/5