"What she needs are stories. Stories are a way to preserve one's self. To be remembered. And to forget. Stories come in so many forms: in charcoal, and in song, in paintings, poems, films. And books. Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives—or to find strength in a very long one.” The invisibile life of Addie LaRue
Zara Hossain is the only Muslim student at her High school in Corpus Christi. She’s “used” to microaggession, while trying not to show her anger and true feelings, because she and her family are waiting for their green card and she’s afraid seeking justice would jeopardize that goal. But one day her tormentor, a star football player, Tyler Benson, takes things too far and get suspended. Tyler and his racist friends so decide to vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime and a consequences that could jeopardize their lives and Zara’s future. Zara is forced to fight between staying in the place she considers her home, while her parents don’t feel safe anymore, or losing the life she knows coming back to Pakistan.
Zara Hossain is here is a heart-wrenching novel about what it means to be an immigrant in America, the struggles Zara and her family face, the Islamophobia, the racism, the feeling of don’t belong. It was so intense reading this book and it filled me with rage and sadness realizing how people can be so ignorant and hateful, how, sometimes, there’s no justice. The author talks about white privilege and the acute difference in the way the system (police, racial, social ones) treats and considers white people and people of color. Sabina Khan also addresses issues like homophobia and biphobia and how religions are often used as excuses to ignorant and hurtful behaviour.
I love the tight bond between Zara and her parents, who would do anything for her and her future and between Zara and her friends, Nick and Priya. Zara and her family are surrounded by a wonderful and tight community and it was so amazing to read, how supported and helped they were during these crazy times. Zara is a strong main character, stubborn, loving, ready to fight for the right thing. She’s smart and passionate and I really love her energy and her bonds with her family, biological and found.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s the kind of book that hurt my heart and made me think about how unfair are things in America, how spread are the double standards and the white privilege, how money can buy things and people. And also how important is to fight for the right thing, not to be silent and to seek justice and fairness.
One of the things I loved the most is how the author doesn’t sweeten the hard reality. Unfair things happened and are still happening, families are torn apart, people, who only tried to find a better place for themselves and their families, can find, and do find, racism and injustice. It’s not the kind of book with an happy ever after. Sabina Khan doesn’t lie and she shows how unfair, how injust the life can be. Zara Hossain is Here is a painful book to read, it’s about unjustices and racism, but also about family, endurance of hope, fighting for justice and against hate.
It’s heart-wrenching and hopeful at the same time and I loved Zara and her family.
Where did you get the inspiration for Zara Hossain Is Here?
I wrote Zara Hossain Is Here largely becasue of my own experience with the US immigration system. In the 90’s I lived there with my family and we were all awaiting our green cards. Unfortunately a clerical error by our lawyer derailed the entire process and we had no choice but to leave the country before our visas expired. It was a difficult time to move and start all over yet again. Luckily we were able to build a good life in Canada with our young children, but at the time the experience was quite traumatizing.
Could you describe the book with one sentence?
A young Muslim immigrant fights back against Islamophobia, racism and the inequities of the US immigration system.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’ve discovered that my creative juices don’t start flowing unless I’m sitting in my favorite recliner with my puppy by my feet. And I need to have complete silence, as in even my husband’s breathing annoys me when I’m in the zone.
Zara experiences Islamophobic harassments. What advice would you give to people in her same situation?
I think that every such situation is unique so it’s hard to give any general piece of advice. But I do think that it’s very important to consider all the variables such as safety, access to resources, a support network etc.
Do you have future projects? Could you tell us something about them?
I do have a few things in the works. Right now all I can tell you is that my next book is another YA contemporary that plays with time and POV.
What are five random things about you that you love?
This is a fun question! Let’s see:
I love that I don’t care where I am when there’s music playing and I can just start dancing.
I love that I finally found the courage to sing in front of people, because I love it so much!
I love that I sometimes laugh so loudly that I scare people, but I don’t care.
I love that I can make myself laugh, even when other people don’t think my jokes are funny.
I love that I still feel excited about what life will bring my way.
WELCOME to my stop for the Tigers, not daughters blog tour!
First of all, I wanted to thank Algonquin & Algonquin Young Readers for the chance to be part of this tour and to read this amazing book.
animal death, suicide, death, abuse (physical and psychological), depression
The Torres sisters, Ana, Jessica, Iridian and Rosa, dream to escape from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of families that know everything about them and their family situation, away from their needy and oppressive father. The book starts during an attempted (and failed) escape. A year later, the older sister Ana is dead and the family is weighed down by grief, guilt, regrets and secrets.
Each sister is trying to deal in her own way with Ana’s loss and their broken dreams, when unusual things start to happen in the house. Walls with messages in Ana’s handwriting, mysterious hands, laughters and sounds. Is Ana? What is she trying to say? Why is she haunting them?
Tigers, not daughters is a phrase from Shakespeare’s King Lear and, according to the author, “in the play, it’s used as an insult, hurled by Albany at Lear’s selfish and disobedient daughters.” So she decided to use this phrase in a positive way, like a praise to the strenght of the Torres sisters. The reader is able to get to know each sister and how each deals with her grief, wishes, dreams and regrets.
JESSICA works at the local pharmacy and, like Ana, dreams to get away, once her sisters and needy father are taken care of. Jessica, who wants to be like Ana, almost losing her own identity in the process, wanting her sister’s room, clothes, makeup, even her abusive boyfriend. She deals with her loss by trying to becoming Ana and she’s full of rage and grief.
IRIDIAN is the one who loses herself in her own world, made of writing romance, reading, who doesn’t go anywhere without her favourite book, notebook and pen and who is so struck down by her grief she can’t get out of the house, battling everyday with her fear and depression.
ROSA is the youngest, wisest and strangest sister, animal-lover, wandering during the night person, whose heart is purer that others’ (according to many). Rosa, who is special, different, fierce and loyal and who is convinced that the escaped hyena has something to do with her sister Ana, maybe it’s her reincarnation.
The protagonists are Latinx and, through the author’s writing, the reader can almost taste the air, see the oppressive neighborhood, they being stuck in it and feel the claustrophobic feeling they experience. They are trapped in their broken home, in an oppressive and repetitive enviroment, with their irresponsible, full of debts, hurtful and unable to take care of them father.
Motherless, fatherless, the Torres sisters lean on one other, protecting, supporting and loving each other with a fierceness that reminds the reader of, precisely, tigers.
The story is told by multiple POVs, from Jessica’s, Iridian’s, Rosa’s in third person and from a collective voice from the boys in the house across the Torres’. It’s through the boys’ perspective the reader and the Torres’ sisters can get more knowledge of Ana and what happened to her.
Told in a nonlinear way, with flashbacks and memories, by the multiple POVs, the story unfurls (expect for the flashbacks and the first chapter) from June 9th to June 17th, ending with a jump in July 7th.
Starting with the failed escape, the story begins one exact year after Ana’s death and the reader is able to see how the Torres’ routine is shocked and turned upside down by a series of paranormal events in the house and, for Rosa, by the escaped hyena.
THE WRITING STYLE
The way the characters are portrayed is acutely real, beautiful and they are really relatable. Mabry wrote characters brimming with life, love and loss able to pierce the pages. Her writing style is so evocative, lush, strong and intense it’s almost like the reader is there with Rosa, looking for her escaped hyena and holding Walter’s hand, or with Iridian, being scared and under the couch’s covers watching soap opera or with Jessica, talking with Peter and being angry and broken all the time.
In Tigers, not daughters, Jessica, Iridian and Rosa stick out as women, as sisters and as bonded by love, grief and loss. Through flashbacks and her sisters’ memories, Ana lives too, as a strong and stubborn girl, who gazed out of the window, dreaming of escape and better places, who took care of her family, almost embodying a mathernal figure. Role that Jessica tries to incarnate after her death.
Ana lives through her sisters, she’s the older one who was determined to protect and she helps them, pushing them together, encouraging them in discovering again their sisterly bond, even when she’s dead.
I found the element of magic realism, the supernatural moments really beautiful and skillfully written. Even though the sisters stand out in Tiger, not daughter, each character, the side ones too, are skillfully written.
Reading about the boys in the house across the street the reader can see their regrets and impotence, how they could have helped and talked and they didn’t.
How Rafe is broken by grief (his wife, dead right after Rosa’s birth and then Ana’s death, who wanted to get away from him and the neighborhood) and how he’s needy and hurtful and broken, ready to try to break and oppress his daughters and almost managing it with Iridian (saved by the love of her sisters).
How John is the oppressive, controlling and abusing boyfriend and how, even in this case, Jessica is saved by her sisters.
Jessica, Iridian and Rosa fight and rebel against the male figures in their lives, above all Rafe and John and even against those who watched without doing anything, like Hector and his friends. They fight against people’s indifference. They find strenght in one other, in their bond made of blood, love trust and loyalty.
One of the thing I loved the most in this characters driven plot is that each character is written as realistic as possible, with their bad moments and bad behaviour, hurtful phrases, regrets, bad thoughts and even who could be the best and wisest character, Rosa, can be driven by rage and think hurtful things.
Each character, above all the sisters, is human, real, complicated, messed up. They are free to act badly, say hurtful and mean things, hit people, rage, laugh hysterically and be absolutely and wonderfully humans.
I think that’s one of the beauty in this book, being able to recognize oneself in the characters, seeing that how they deal with their regrets, desires, wishes and losses is acutely real. It’s interesting and very realistic reading how, even though they all experience the same death, each character deals with grief in a very different way. It’s realistic because people don’t react in the same way and grief is dealt and processed differently.
Reading Tigers, not daughter it’s impossible not to think about The virgin suicides and Little women. Kind and stubborn Rosa recalls Beth, book-worm Iridian Jo, Jessica as the breadwinner and who takes care of her family as Meg. As the March sisters, the Torres have one other’s back everytime, ready to protect and defend each other, to support and love.
Tigers, not daughter is an intense story of love, loss, grief, with magic realism, ghosts and sisterly bond. Its characters are alive and strong and deal with important themes, like loss, death, depression, abusive relationships. I loved the message, that through love and hope it’s possible to reach out and be able to heal. It’s a story about grief and loss and dealing with them, dreams, regrets, wishes, desires, sisterhood, loyalty and love.
Tigers, not daughters is the kind of book that stays with you for a long time, able to grab the reader’s attention and feelings and it’s impossible not love these broken and strong characters, so real and humans.
My dark Vanessa is an intense, heartbreaking and important book. It tells the story of Vanessa, a young woman who was abused by her English teacher at fifteen years old and the aftermath of her rape and their relationship.
The book is built in a peculiar way, swinging from 2001/2002, 2006 and 2017, between past and present, constructing the whole story. We get to know Vanessa as teenager, friendless and lonely in a boarding school, after losing her previous best friend and who finds herself attracted to and coerced by her new teacher, Jacob Strane into a sexual relationship.
Kate Elizabeth Russell wrote about this intense relationship between Vanessa and Strane that spanned years, decades, to the 2017, when a young woman accused Strane of abusing her, pushing and trying to get Vanessa involved. The involment of a journalist threaten to uncover the truth Vanessa is trying to deny and hide to herself.
The relationship between Vanessa and Strane is never romanticized and it’s really complex, because Strane manipulated Vanessa for years, blaming, threating and harassing her, above all when he feared she could tell someone the truth about what happened. The book is astounding and delicate and it’s clearly visible all the aftermath the abuse inflicted on Vanessa, who is in denial and almost until the end she refused to see herself as a victim of rape and to call the abuse rape.
The allegations against Strane in 2017 pushed her to revisit her life and childhood, her relationships with her parents and friends, her loneliness, her depression, and seeing and talking with her terapist and to the young woman who accused Strane helped her see the abuse in a new way.
During all her life, after the abuse, Vanessa is still attached to Strane, convincing herself to believe him, to consider all that as a love story, to having being loved and cherished. For years Vanessa talked and saw Strane, even after the boarding school, all the time him manipulating and using her, in a abusive and suffocating relationship. On point and hard to read her metaphors of being drowned and disconnected from her body, when he abused her.
“I just really need it to be a love story. You know? I really, really need it to be that.” “I know.” she says. “Because if it isn’t a love story, then what is it?” […] “It’s my life.” I say. “This has been my whole life”
It’s heartbreaking and interesting reading about Vanessa’s life and process to accept what happened to her and calling its true name, battling against her guilt and shame because she didn’t tell about him, didn’t stop him from hurting other girls. It’s fascinating seeing how Vanessa and Taylor saw the abuse, the first denying it and fooling herself for years, listening to her rapist and refusing to denouncing him and the latter seeing right away the man for what is was and denouncing him to the school, two times. It was difficult for Vanessa, because all her life, for years, Strane became a part of herself, almost infecting her.
“Ruby says it will take a while to truly changed, that I need to give myself a chance to see more of the world without him behind my eyes”
This book is really well written and I was heartbroken in so many parts, raging against Strane, wanting to shake Vanessa and so enraged when the school didn’t believe her, didn’t support Taylor, choosing not to pursue a true investigation, when in 2001 rumours about Strane and Vanessa circulated. It was incredibly frustrating reading about teachers and administration refusing to see the truth and to protect their students.
I will stop now my ranting, because I wanted to write and comment every pages, but I won’t. I’ll just say this book is a gem and it carries so many important message, like the relevance of therapy, of healing, of denouncing.
In a dystopic society, thanks to the Next of Kin law, people inherit their parents’ debts (if they are married) and they are forced to interact with the Office of Debt Resolution and sell themselves to work their debts. The ODR works with the Dociline, a drug that “helps” debtors to be docile and compliant while working and to erase their memory when under the drug. The Bishops invented the Dociline and the whole debtors’ system use it. In a world where the consent is “optional” and where trillionaires control, through Dociline and the ODR, the life of others, Elisha and Alex struggle to be themself and maintain their soul.
Elisha Wilder’s family is ruined by debt and his mother is under a Dociline state after spending 10 years paying part of her debts. To save his thirteen years old sister from the ODR, from selling herself (usually trillionaries seeks Dociles for sex), Elisha tricks his parents and he registers himself to the ODR, hoping to choose a kind Patron and a short term.
Alexander Bishop the Third works for his family company and he’s forced by his father and the Board to look for a Docile, since he pushed away their choice for him. After refusing the choices prescreened by his father and the Board, Alex is attracted by Elisha and decides to be his Patron, offering him a monthly salary for his family and a full life term. Alex feels the pressure of the society, of his father and his role as CEO and the creation of a new version of Dociline, that he wants to test on Elisha. But when Elisha uses one of the seven Docile rights, refusing to take the drug, Alex is put in a difficult position and he’s forced to show his father, the Board and his influential friends he can train an off-med Docile.
They begin, this way, a complex relationship, where Alex enforces rules upon rules on Elisha, telling him how, when and where to stand and sit, not to ask questions, not to be curious, how to dress, how to eat, molding him into a perfect Docile. And disciplining him with cruel punishments, like putting his knees on rice, when he misbehaves. Slowly, forced to obey because he fears Alex could stop paying his family the salary decided in the contract, Elisha lets him changing him, shaping him into a perfect Docile, making him taking cooking, piano, language lessons and so on.
Bit by bit, in six months, Alex erases his personality, his being Elisha, until Elisha can’t function by himself anymore, doesn’t how how to act or sit or dress and only wants only to please Alex, to make him happy, Elisha suffers from a kind of Stockholm Syndrome.
But Alex’s plan to change Elisha goes both way. When a cruel incident forces him to realize he’s falling in love with him and that he’s hurting him, Alex’s only choice is to get Elisha far away from him, to save him, to let him heal with his family and friends.
But at this stage, their relationship, their bond is too strong and complex. Their feelings, their heartstrings and the consequences of their actions get Alex’s company, his friends, his convictions involved, changing his perception of his world and reality.
Abused, changed and broken Elisha is forced to slowly heal himself, to live his life without Alex, forcing to accept the truth about their relationship, while fighting against a trillionaire system that wants to hurt him and his family, his feelings for Alex and how to be his own person again. Raw and moving is realizing how Elisha was so deep in their relationship, so coerced and controlled he couldn’t recognize the abuse.
Important in the life of Elisha and Alex are the Empower Maryland, an organization that helps poor people, assisting them, providing food and clothes, tutors and school, that fights against the Docile and debtors’ system. They contacts Elisha, when he becomes Alex’s Docile, to help them fight the Bishops’s Dociline. And then, when Alex’s family files a lawsuit against Elisha and his family, they helped him fight and get better.
Docile is a book full of intense and incredibly complex characters, written skillfully and set in a dystopian society. It’s a story about abuse, power, love, need and desire. Told by two POVs, Elisha’s and Alex’s Docile follows their relationship, how they change and grow up. It’s a book about relationships, how to be true to himself, how to maintain his own personality in a world where debts and need want to change you.
Elisa is one of the most relisient and stubborn characters I’ve ever read. He loves deeply and it’s his love for his family that pushes him to sign the contract with Alex. It’s chilling getting to know him and his personality and seeing it being chipped away by Alex’s rules and impositions. Elisha is forced by need and fear for his family to sign his contract with Alex and even though there is an undeniable attraction between them, his relationship with Alex is not consensual. He’s expected to have sex with him, he loses his virginity with Alex the first night, to satisfy his desires, sexual or not.
In Elisha’s society Dociles are seen like things and in the upper class society, the trillionaire’s one, with Alex’s friends like Mariah and Dutch, they are sexual doll. During one of the first society events Elisha is raped by Dutch and drugged to have sex with another Docile, and that was completely normal for them.
That Alex has feelings for Elisha, that he cares for him, more that he should have (according to the society’s way), is right away seen as weird, dangerous, not socially acceptable. Elisha is forced to be Alex’s perfect Docile, dressed like Alex says, doing whatever he wanted him to do. Elisha slowly changes, until his family, above all his father, can’t recognize him anymore, can’t believe he’s his own person. It is moving and awful reading how Elisha loses himself and struggles with rules and feelings, not knowing what he did wrong or how to function without Alex.
When Alex realized how much he hurts Elisha and lets him go to his family, Elisha’s world is destroyed, without him and he has to go through a painful process of reasserting himself, learning again how to ask things, how to like things without Alex’s brainwashing. Reading about this was so raw and moving, how he was helped by the Empower Maryland, by his family and friends.
Alex’s character, as Elisha’s, is complex and intriguing. Pressured by his family, the whole city to prove the effectivness of Dociline, he’s torn between his growing feelings for Elisha and his loyalty to his father, Board and legacy.
For me, it wasn’t easy to see Alex as a villain in Docile. He was shaped by the world he lives in, Alex is the product of a society where Dociles are seen as things and where he, as Bishop, has to act and be a certain way.
But Alex’s action are not justified by his being grown up in a certain way. Throughout the whole book Alex is forced to open his eyes and recognize his mistakes and actions.
While reading Docile it’s impossible not to compare both of them, to see Alex as the villain and Elisha as the victim, the abuser and the abused, the rapist and the raped. But they are so much complex that that. In a game of seduction, love, violence and hurt, they move and they live in a society that shapes them and wants to mold them in certain ways. Thanks to his relationship with Elisha, Alex begins to understand how his POV was biased, how his being rich and spoiled prevented him to see the truth, even when it regarded his closest friends. Jess and Dutch are Alex’s best friends, they work for the Bishop Labs and both of them were under Dociline, when kids.
Discovering Dutch’s and his Docile Onyx’s true nature and intentions was a surprise for me, so it was reading them helping Elisha get back on his own feet and forcing Alex to see what his family company did to debtors in general and Elisha and his mother in particular, pushing him to open his eyes and recognize his feeling and what he should do. Jess is another complex character, her expertise in Dociline helping Alex and Elisha, her friendship with them and Dylan sweet and sure.
I love how the characters grow in this book. Alex, from rich and spoiled and blind to others’ suffering and feelings, becomes a more mature version of himself, deciding to free himself from his father’s and the company’s clutches and owning the truth about what he did to Elisha, how he hurt and broke him. Reading how Alex sees that and at the same time that is ready to make amends, helping him and his mother, denouncing his family’s company was incredible.
Reading about Elisha’s depersonalization was awful and raw, so like reading his slow reasserting his own identity and personality, his indecision, his pain, his attempted suicide, his healing, helped by his family and friends. Every character is complex, flawed and utterly human in his faults, desires and needs. None of them is completely bad or good, but they are in the gray area of humanity, pushed and manipulated by a society and system that want to mold them, where debts create slaves and riches. Alex and Elisha change one other and, above all, Alex’s world and convictions are upturned.
The lawsuit was a brilliant way to force the characters to realize and talk about their own feelings and faults. I love reading how Dutch tells the truths about Docile, how the trial showed the fault in the Docile’s system and the debtor’s reality, how Elisha decides to own his own truths, admitting to himself and other to have been raped and brainwashedand how Alex realizes his faults and tries to fix it, testing himself with drugs and trying to find an antidote for Elisha’s mother. I was unbelievably proud when Elisha breaks up with Alex and they both realize it’s the right thing to do in that moment, because they need to heal and fix their relationship. I was proud of both of them owning their truths. I love reading how Abby, Elisha’s sister is supportive and how Nora, Dylan’s mother and David, Elisha’s father are so close to him, even after the first fights because Elisha couldn’t realize he’s changed. It was fun and interesting reading about the sex scenes, about the BDSM, about the poliamorous relationships.
I loved reading how Elisha and Alex change during the whole book, how they become different people, owning their own truths and faults. Their relationship is incredibly complex. Their love, born in a not consensual relationship, change both of them. Pushed Alex to realized how much he’s hurting Elisha and to letting him go to his family, understanding how, living with him, wouldn’t help. Elisha, after all he’s been through, still have feelings for Alex, strong ones.
After being so dependent in Alex, reading how Elisha reasserts himself, making his own decisions, asking his own questions, was absolutely amazing. So was reading how Alex owns his mistakes, his faults, his guilt, deciding to give Elisha space, to letting him heal, piece by piece. Their relationship change a lot throughout the book, from owner and owned, abuser and abused, from Elisha being dependent on Alex, to be his own person, again and starts a new relationship with him, without disparities, helping each other and seeing one other as how they really are, without pressures and social impositions.
I loved the ending. It was hopeful and sweet, social justice aside. I loved reading how both Elisha and Alex still have feeling for each other and they are willing to give each other space and time, while deciding to work together and be together.
“I want to be with you- want to be around you without the pressure”
“He kissed me again, and again, parting so slowly I feel dazed. Heady. Elisha leans his forehead against the base of my neck and I rest my chin on his head, the hood long fallen off. When he finally looks at me, he says “I’m not giving up on you, Alexander Bishop.” I don’t answer him, because I want him to feel like he can go on without me if he needs to. He’ll see me soon, anyway. We’re neighbours, now, and I think I promised to open a clinic with him. This isn’t a goodbye. It’s a beginning- one we’ve agreed on. Together.”
Docile left me breathless and full of things to say and write. I loved the plot, the characters, the themes. I loved Elisha and Alex and the ending left me so hopeful for them, showing how it’s possible to heal and starts love again even after awful experiences. How it’s important to be true to oneself and do the right thing, how it’s right to fight for what it’s right. Docile is a book with intense and skillfully written themes like abuse, power, consent and love. It’s raw, beautiful, heartbreaking and sexy. It’s impossible not to love Elisha and Alex.
Let me now what do you think! Will you read Docile? Are you excited as I am to have this book in your hands? Comment this post and share your thoughts.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.
Trigger warnings about self harm, bulimia, physical and physicological abuse, drug use
What kind of girl is a book about survivors, fighting, love, friendship and abuse. Told by multiple POVs, or I should write, different side of the same two person, the story is narrated by Maya and Junie, her best friend, during the time of one week.
It’s Monday when Maya goes to the principal office with a black eye, denouncing the golden boy of their high school, her boyfriend Mike. It’s her last straw. After three months of abuse, she says it’s enough. He has to stop.
After that the school divide in two parts. Who believe in Maya, rallying against her abuser and demanding the school board to expel him and who can’t side with her, asking why she waited to speak? Why did she stay with him?
Bit by bit the reader finds about the controlling nature of the track star, how Maya was scared of him, how she suffers from bulimia, how she couldn’t confide in her mother or best friend, how she sought the help of the school burn out, Hiram, finding solace and understanding in him.
Maya realizes her relationship with Mike, seeing it clearly, understanding all the times he pulled, pushed and pinched her, how he wanted to controll her.
At the same time the reader gets to know Juniper, Junie, Maya’s best friend, who struggles with anxiety and who finds release in cutting herself, who, without realizing fully, suffers from her parent’s expectations, above all her father, a human rights attorney, who pushed her to fight, to rally, without seeing her sufferings.
In just one week both of their lives are upset, pushing them to make decisions, to stand for themselves, to seek one other, to support each other.
It was interesting reading the two POVs and seeing all their facets. Maya is the girlfriend, the popular girl, the bulimic, the burn out, while June is the anxious girl, the cool girl, the activist, both of them struggling against pressure and expectations, both of them sick and confused.
I appreciate how the author wrote about Maya’s difficulty to talk, to accept her being a survivor, her being abused, her guilty about Mike’s future and scholarship, her confused feelings, her feeling guilty because she couldn’t talk, because controlled and scared. Her accepting this wasn’t her fault.
I appreciate Junie’s side, too, reading about her anxiety, her need to cut, her need to please her parents, to be controlled, to be cool, her fear that loved ones could think her a basket case, above all her parents, Maya and Tess.
I liked reading about Tess, how Junie decided to be open to her, be sincere about who she is and the open ending. I really loved the open ending. It wasn’t disappointing. I felt that, one way or another, I would have felt hurt or disappointed, but leaving it like that was really smart.
I liked this story, the writing style, it’s a quick read, even though the book is almost 400 pages, because the reader needs to know more, needs to know what happened, what happens, how the main characters will react to this or that and so on.
Compelling, interesting and captivating.
Let me know if you like my review, or if you would read this book.
Ho deciso di dedicare la mia prima recensione al libro del momento, almeno per me, Ninth House, scritto dalla straordinaria Leigh Bardugo.
Se non siete a conoscenza di questa autrice, ecco una sua piccola presentazione.
Leigh Bardugo ( @LBardugo su twitter e LBardugo su Instagram) è nata a Gerusalemme, cresciuta in California e laureata a Yale; vive e scrive nella città di Los Angeles ed è un’autrice bestseller di racconti brevi e romanzi fantasy tra i quali la saga Grishaverse, che comprende la trilogia Shadow and Bone e la duologia Six of Crows. I romanzi sono stati tradotti in italiano dalla Mondadori e Sei di Corvi è uscito il 24 settembre 2019, mentre il seguito, Il regno corrotto uscirà il 29 ottobre. (Info da https://www.mondadoristore.it/libri/Leigh-Bardugo/aut01038111/ ) . La saga di Grishaverse diverrà, inoltre, una serie televisiva acquistata dalla Neflix con il nome di Shadow and Bone. L’annuncio, pubblicato dalla stessa autrice il 2 ottobre, ha reso noto il cast principale. ( https://variety.com/2019/tv/news/tv-news-roundup-netflix-shadow-and-bone-1203356620/ ).
Dopo questa brevissima panoramica dell’autrice, alla cui saga Grishaverse dedicherò più in là un post più articolato, volevo parlarvi del primo romanzo adult fantasy scritto da Leigh Bardugo, Ninth House.
Ninth House è ambientato a Yale, l’alma mater di Leigh Bardugo e vede come protagonista Galaxy “Alex” Stern, matricola dal misterioso e complesso passato, improbabile membro di Yale. Cresciuta da una madre hippie, abbandonati gli studi e coinvolta in un losco mondo fatto di droga e ricatti dal ragazzo spacciatore, Alex si ritrova a vent’anni ad essere l’unica sopravvissuta di un orrendo e irrisolto omicidio. Le viene offerta, però, una seconda chance, grazie al rettore Sandow, ovvero la possibilità di frequentare la prestigiosa università di Yale. A che scopo? Perché proprio Alex? Alla giovane viene chiesto in cambio di far parte della società segreta Lethe, che si occupa di monitorare le misteriose attività delle ulteriori otto società, le Antiche Otto. L’omicidio di una giovane stravolge quello che doveva essere il nuovo inizio di Alex, spingendola a indagare, nonostante le frettolose risposte della polizia e dell’amministrazione del college. Cercando risposte, Alex si scopre coinvolta in un enorme complotto, molto più grande e sinistro di quanto avrebbe mai immaginato.
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Inizierò la recensione definendo Ninth House uno dei migliori libri che abbia letto in tanto tempo.
Presentato da Stephen King come “Impossibile to put down” Ninth House è un libro magnetico, che spinge il lettore a divorarlo, perché si sente il bisogno di sapere cosa succederà, di andare avanti, di leggere capitolo dopo capitolo. Al tempo stesso, però, si vorrebbe assaporarlo lentamente, come un delizioso piatto prelibato e leggerlo il più piano possibile per poterlo gustare meglio. La scrittura di Leigh Bardugo, notata già leggendo i suoi libri precedenti, è coinvolgente e spinge il lettore in un mondo completamente nuovo, del quale, una volta letta l’ultima pagina, si sente la mancanza. Alex Stern, la protagonista del racconto, possiede un potere (o maledizione, a seconda di come si potrebbe intendere) che ha attirato l’attenzione della misteriosa Nona Casa, la Lethe: può vedere i fantasmi, sin da quando ne ha memoria e questa sua capacità la rende assolutamente perfetta per monitorare le attività delle altre società segrete. Leigh Bardugo, infatti, immagina che ciascuna delle otto società, i cui membri sono importanti personaggi della politica, della cultura e del mondo dello spettacolo, pratica un diverso tipo di magia. Per non anticipare molto (scoprire i diversi rituali delle case è stato magnifico e davvero molto interessante), farò l’esempio di Skull and Bones che pratica la divinazione usando interiora umane e di animali. Lethe ha il compito di sorvegliare e ispezionare i loro rituali e Alex viene coinvolta in un mondo fatto di magia, riti e cerimonie, formule in latino, oggetti magici e misteri. Il romanzo Ninth House è strutturato in maniera molto particolare. Quasi ogni capitolo (che prendono nome dal periodo in cui si svolgono i principali avvenimenti, come Early Spring, Winter and Last Fall) oscilla tra passato e presente, costruendo la trama come pezzi di un puzzle. Sin dal prologo il lettore viene spinto all’interno del mondo di Alex e finisce di leggere la prima parte con moltissime domande,domandandosi chi sia la protagonista e cosa le sia successo. Capitolo dopo capitolo, rivelazione dopo rivelazione, il lettore viene a conoscenza del passato di Alex e del mistero che riguarda la giovane ragazza uccisa che si intreccia con la scomparsa del mentore di Alex, Darlington, sparito durante un’ispezione andata male. Pezzo dopo pezzo, veniamo a conoscenza di Alex e Darlington, delle compagne di stanza di Alex, dei riti magici e seguiamo la protagonista nella sua indagine. Alex, infatti, nonostante le rassicurazioni del rettore e della polizia, sospetta che l’omicidio della giovane Tara Hutchins non sia così “semplice” come tutti gli altri pensano. Non scriverò ulteriori informazioni sulla trama, perché Ninth House è un libro che merita di essere assaporato. La storia è piena di colpi di scena e rivelazioni fino all’ultima pagina. Dotato di personaggi interessanti e accattivanti è un fantasy per adulti, un thriller, un viaggio in un mondo dove la magia è parte integrante del college stesso e delle sue società. Interessantissimo leggere dei riti magici e del passato dei protagonisti. Mi sono immedesimata molto in Darlington, nella sua curiosità e fascino per la magia. Inutile dire che non vedo l’ora di tuffarmi nuovamente nel mondo di Alex e Darlington.
Concludo questa mia prima recensione avvertendo i lettori che Ninth House non è un libro adatto ai giovani, o almeno, chi ha voglia di leggerlo deve sapere che ci sono dei trigger warnings, che potrebbero sconvolgere o rendere difficile la lettura, per chi è sensibile a tali tematiche:
stupro sotto l’effetto di una droga
stupro di un minore
spargimenti di sangue
Per quanto mi riguarda sono venuta a conoscenza dei trigger warnings di Ninth House mesi prima dell’uscita del libro, leggendo commenti su Twitter, e devo ammettere che il doversi aspettare un certo evento mi ha reso più ansiosa. Credo che avrei vissuto meglio la lettura di un dato avvenimento se non avessi letto prima i trigger warnings, ma ovviamente è una mia personale idea.
Concludo scrivendo che Ninth House è un libro che mi ha davvero stupita, essendo molto più di quanto avessi potuto immaginare. Mi ha tenuta sulle spine, mi ha fatto sobbalzare e commuovere e mi ha coinvolto moltissimo. Non vedo l’ora di leggere il seguito.