Book Review, Uncategorized

The Visitors – by Rebecca Mascull

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a review. No particular reason why; I think I’m simply inconsistent! However, I have read quite a few books in the meantime…even though none of them were ASOUE as I gave up on them. But that’s another blog!

This review, is oThe Visitorsf the last book I finished. The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull, was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Summed up, it is a story about a deaf/blind girl called Adeliza Golding, whose family own a hop farm in late Victorian Kent, England. I discovered this gem one day in the library, I’m not even sure what it was that caught my eye, but I picked it up and read the back and immediately was intrigued. I have always been, quite randomly, curious about how people must go about their lives if they are born or become deaf/blind. I even learned the alphabet in sign language as a kid and can still remember it to this day. Did you know there’s a difference between English Sign Language, and American Sign Language? It fascinated me when I was younger that there was an entire language created, which meant that just because you couldn’t speak, didn’t mean you could communicate. I felt the same about Braille; knowing that the blind were still able to enjoy the wonderful world of reading.

But what about those who are both blind and deaf? How could they sign if they can’t see? How do they read if they can’t be told what the bumps mean? How do they know their own name?? It made me sad to think about it. And then I found The Visitors. And I knew I had to read it to see if someone could explain how the world would feel to a deaf/blind individual.

I’m so glad I did. Aside from the story itself, which is full of love, friendship, family and warmth, Adeliza’s journey from ‘The Time Before’ to the woman she becomes is incredible. Considering the author herself is neither blind nor deaf, she puts you in Liza’s shoes in the most fascinating way. It’s impossible to describe how she does it, but Mascull shows you Liza’s world and how she experiences it like she’s been there herself. I cannot vouch for whether or not her writing is a true rendition of life as a deaf/blind individual, but I could not have hoped for a better curiosity quencher.

The Visitors themselves seem to be a secondary aspect of the book; although they are necessary to the plot and tie in nicely with everything going on, I don’t feel like they take away from Liza’s life story. They are a part of her, and so become a sideline, always there but just out of sight and out of mind.

I always enjoy a book that makes you aware of things you weren’t aware of before. Books about other cultures, other countries, other minds, other perspectives…they’re food for thought. I truly feel I put down The Visitors having learned something, and felt something.

I would highly recommend this! 8/10

Book Review, Uncategorized

And The Mountains Echoed – by Khaled Hosseini

and-the-mountains-echoedI was visiting a friend for the evening, and as I was getting my coat on to leave, this book caught my eye on her bookshelf. Meaning, the name Khaled Hosseini did. I’ve already read ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’, both of which are incredible. I didn’t even know he had another book out, and instantly asked to borrow it.

Hosseini’s latest creation is once again something that grips you and doesn’t let go. It is actually the book that inspired me to create this blog!

So, the story is set across different times, cities, countries, continents, worlds even. From the harsh village of 50’s era Shadbagh, Afghanistan, to the beauty of France in the 70’s, to modern day America. Each chapter gives a wildly different view point of many different characters, starting off with a little boy and his sister, whose story affects the lives of families across the globe. Hosseini has an amazing talent for writing from the perspective of so many different cultures, personalities and view points. The switch from an ageing Afghan uncle to a vibrant, French mathematician; from the cruel reality of a struggling father, to the innocent mind of a war criminal’s son. The way this man sees everybody’s world is something we can all learn from.

In all of Hosseini’s books, he uses connections and links between different worlds, and I find myself pulled by the heart strings in every one. I can’t actually decide if this is a positive or a negative, but I found myself desperately needing to find out more about the lives of these characters. There are far too many unanswered questions, untold parts of the story. What happened to Iqbal? How did Abe get from Shadbagh to Pakistan, to America? What is Roshi’s story? Despite the disappointment in not learning the whole story of these people, I think the intention is to show how many people’s lives can be touched and affected by one event, how one person’s decision can ripple out across the world. You may know nothing about it, you may see a glimpse or a flash, but you will never know the whole story.

I must say, I was slightly disappointed with the ending. I felt like the story was leading up to either a heartwarming finale, or a devastating heartbreak, or something! But it was all very slow to conclude; a little sad, yes, but on the whole missing something. Saying that, I would highly recommend And The Mountains Echoed to anyone and everyone, especially if you’ve read Hosseini’s previous works.

I’d give it an 8/10