Book Review · Books

A People’s History Of Heaven

Step into fictional Heaven. It’s a slum in India where developers are trying to bulldoze it down to build more shopping centers. The only thing is that they have to contend with the residents of Heaven who want to keep their homes. This story dives into the lives of each protester whether it be a mother, or their daughter. It’s a clear story of how the caste system works and when you live in a slum you don’t always get to choose when the big wigs want to expand your area.

This story is rich in description, characterization and brings India to life. I have never been to India before, but growing up my grandmother would make me chapatis. They are unleavened flatbread. We’d eat them for breakfast with whipped cream and honey or jam depending on your flavor preference.

There has great LGBTQA and religious representation in this novel. Some of the characters are figuring out who they are and who they love wether it’s to a boy, or girl and if they were born a particular gender that it may not be who they truly feel they are. The different characters share a variety of faiths from Hindu, Muslim and Christian.

I received my complimentary copy of A People’s History Of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian from Algonquin Books and NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice. This a beautiful novel that needs to be read, shared and talked about it. It’s a women empowering women story that shows that you don’t have to be rich to be powerful in spirit. Thank you for allowing me to win a copy of this book Algonquin Books.

Book Review · Books

Surviving Myself

Growing up I always wanted to be a part of the popular crowd. The popular girls all seemed to have perfect lives and the means to buy whatever hot new item was popular at the time: Guess Jeans, Keds, LA Gear hightops, etc. I always felt homely next to them. I’ve never been good with fashion, but I still did my best to try to fit in. Dina deals with this same challenge growing up. She’s tall, lean and from India. Her mom makes her boring lunches. Dina also, has to stay at her school’s daycare after school until her parents can pick her up. Why won’t her parents let her be more independent?

Dina discovers one way she can stay in control of her life is to monitor her eating. Doing gymnastics with her friend she sees how lighter one is, the easier it is to do the routines. Sadly this monitoring turns into full fledge anorexia. Dina’s description of this struggle is vivid and heartbreaking.

After Dina gets help for her eating disorder her life comes to a screeching halt after she’s in a car accident. She deals with PTSD after the accident, afraid of potential car crashes while riding as a passenger. The doctors discover she has a mass on her brain. The day after she’s allowed to go home.

Two months later Dina deals with some strange symptoms. She experiences numbness on her right side. Her family gets her back to the hospital ASAP where she ends up having a stroke there in the hospital.

This memoir is Dina’s journey surviving through her eating disorder, car crash and a stroke. Her determination to get through it all is inspiring, humbling and a reminder that we don’t know what life will throw at us, but that we can get through more than we think we can.

This memoir was not easy to read at times. I’ve never struggled with an eating disorder, but I did do gymnastics growing up. There is a lot of pressure to stay slim in that sport. I have been in a fender bender before and know what it’s like to flinch while being a passenger, afraid of another car hitting you again. As for the other health challenges that Dina faced I haven’t experienced those, but I have dealt with other health challenges as a baby.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Surviving Myself by Dina Pestonji with Erin McCann from NetGalley. The views expressed are mine. I highly recommend this book. It will inspire you to not let anything get you down.

Book Review · Books

Lion


I saw the movie, “Lion,” before I bought the book. Usually I like to read a book first before seeing the movie, but in this case I’m glad I did. The movie is so verbatim of the memoir I felt like I was just reading the movie via words vs visually through a movie.

This is the memoir of Saroo from India getting lost and separated from his brother Guddu at five years old. He begs to go out and help his brother gather what food they can find for their family. ┬áBeing little Saroo is sleepy with it being late at night so he rests on a train station bench. Guddu tells him to stay put and he’ll be right back, but when Saroo wakes up his brother is nowhere to be found. He looks around the station and even in some of the trains. ┬áThinking his brother will find him inside one, Saroo lays down for more sleep. The next thing he knows is that waking up the train is in motion and he’s stuck on the train.

Saroo winds up far from home with a limited vocabulary of how to express where his home is and who his family is. A few people try to help him with no success locating his family, so he winds up in a scary orphanage. Thankfully a nice Australian couple want to adopt him, so Saroo gets to fly for the first time. His new parents are loving and patient. Saroo even gains a brother, another adoptee from India.

Saroo keeps his memories of home in the back of his mind, to never forget them. He loves and thrives in his new home, country and family. After college he decides he wants to find his family. How to find it with the minimal information he remembers as a little five-year old? Welcome the lovely technology of Google Earth.

This memoir is beautifully written. It tugs at your heart, your sense of what makes up a family and how memories can bring miracles. Go see the movie first though. You won’t regret it.