Book & Movie Reviews

The Struggle to “Find Yourself” as a Teen: Book Review for Forward Me Back to You by Mitali Perkins

“Some women get erased a little at a time, some all at once. Some reappear. Every woman who appears wrestles with the forces that would have her disappear. She struggles with the forces that would tell her story for her, or write her out of the story, the genealogy, the rights of man, the rule of law. The ability to tell your own story, in words or images, is already a victory, already a revolt.”Rebecca SolnitMen Explain Things to Me

On #InternationalWomensDay, I want to give a hearty shout out to all the women in the world that are taking up space and existing in the world. Give yourself a hug for all you’ve done and will do in this coming week!

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In February, I read Forward Me Back to You by Mitali Perkins. As a total read, this book was a hard one to get through due to subject matter, but also because of the pacing and choice of medium. Perkins writes this book as if it were a script in omnipotent third person narration. 

The general premise is that there are two teenagers, Kat and Ravi, who are both questioning their current existence and eventually travel to Kolkata, India to do mission work with an organization that traffics women. Kat is a mixed race girl of Afro-Latinx and white heritage. Her story starts from the point of her being sexually assaulted and forced to leave her school in California and move to Boston as a way of getting away from environmental triggers that remind her of her attack. Sadly, her story will be familiar to many women in the #MeTooMovement or #TimesUp era. 

Mitali Perkins

Ravi on the other hand is an adopted Indian boy that lives in Boston with his white parents, who adore him. Ravi has the feeling that there is something missing. Quiet, and seemingly only good with fixing cars, he is a background player in his own life. Determined to find the mother that abandoned him, Ravi attempts signs up for the mission trip in India and it leads him into a better understanding of himself and how he fits into his world.

While each of Perkins’ characters are well-written, I went in expecting to love the book, but ended up feeling uncomfortable reading it due to the odd choice to make the story appear as if it was a movie with each chapter heading. I have read other books from this author and loved them, but this one just wasn’t for me. I definitely could imagine it as a movie though.

I gave it 3 stars.

Where there any books in your February reading list that you would have turned into a movie if you had the chance?

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Book & Movie Reviews, Reviews

The Power of Greed: Book Review On Aravind Adiga’s Last Man In Tower

The point of this review is more to dispense my troubled feelings about this book than to persuade or dissuade anyone from reading it. I felt something akin to word vomit as I wrote this review, so please don’t get upset if you find the occasional spoiler within this review. Most of my remarks come from personal feelings about the book and my reactions to my class discussion of this novel.

Cheers!

Image result for Last Man In Towerby Aravind AdigaI gave Last Man In Towerby Aravind Adiga  four stars not because I was head over heels in love with it, but because it led me to have profound thoughts about the condition of humanity. While this book was required reading for me for Graduate School, there were many times when I wanted to throw it clear across the room out of frustration and anger at the characters’ actions.

The story’s theme focuses on the duty that one has to his/her community. In this novel, Masterji, a retired Physics teacher living in a co-op in Vakola, Mumbai, along with his neighbors are offered the chance to sell their shares in their old apartment building for close to $2,900,000. However, the catch is that the group must do so unanimously. For many in the co-op, the idea of having money and being able to move up in the world is enticing enough to sign without much of a hassle, but for Masterji, the idea of leaving a place where his deceased wife and daughter’s last memory rest is unthinkable. Therefore, Masterji refuses to sign and rages a one-man opposition to the builder’s proposal. 

Here is where my distaste for Adiga’s novel sets in. For the whole of the book, Masterji’s neighbor’s complained of this man’s disregard for his community’s wishes, yet, everyone ultimately betrayed him for greed. It was argued in my seminar that Masterji was in the wrong for his actions of refusing to agree to abandon his home and go along with the co-op’s wishes because he had a duty to his community. However, in my opinion, this line of thinking seems twisted.

For the first half of the novel, the individuals of the Vishram Society regarded themselves as “respectable” people and prided themselves on living as upstanding middle-class Indians that were committed to doing what was right for their community. This all changed as soon as the opportunity to get money was presented to them. After this, they all became greedy and insufferable characters who only thought of their own needs forgetting the community. If the individuals in the society had had better reasons for their actions, I would have felt less trepidation at the characters’ final actions, but each person betrayed Masterji for mere dollar signs in the end. Moreover, they hid behind the idea that Masterji was blocking their one chance at “happiness” to keep from dealing with their betrayal. To me, this greed in Adiga’s characters hardened my belief that money really is the cause of all evil.

This being said, Adiga’s story is well-crafted and worth a read regardless of its raw portrayal of humanity. My only gripe besides anger at the characters’ pettiness and greed is that in some places, the author overwhelmed the reader with too many details and back history/story. This verboseness had me struggling to keep myself invested in the overall action of the novel (I actually found the last 1/4 of the book to be the best part of the story). Overall, I would recommend this book, especially as a book club pick, so that you can have someone else to discuss the themes and topics in this novel.

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Book & Movie Reviews

My Bollywood Indulgence: Movie Review of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

This movie was watched on March 25, 2013.

An interesting thing happened a week ago. I was browsing through Netflix and decided to take a hiatus from my watching standard American movies and instead journeyed to the obscure “Bollywood” corner of Netflix. Clicking through the list of foreign films,  I quickly scanned the titles and synopsis looking for a light movie to watch until I could fall asleep. As luck would have it, I stumbled onto what has now become one of my favorite movies of all time, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi 

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is a movie that stars famed Bollywood actor, Shah Rukh Khan. Khan plays a geeky man named, Surinder Sahni who lives a mundane life working for a power company in Mumbai. By a luck of fate, he gets invited to the wedding of one of his old professors. At the wedding the mans meets the daughter who is named Taani. 

Taani who is played by Anushka Sharma is full of life and outgoing opposed to the awkward Surinder who watches her dance from the shadows as the pre-wedding party proceeds. Suddenly, all heck breaks lose ***SPOILER*** and the audience and bride to be finds out that the groom is not coming because he has been killed along with his family in a bus accident. The professor suffers from a heart attack and on his death bed ask Surinder to marry Taani so that he will know that his daughter is ok without him and both party’s agree. From here, the movie gets realllly good.

Surinder and Tanni get married and of course Taani is heartbroken and Surinder is smitten with his new bride but, doesn’t want to force her into loving him being he is such a gentle soul. In a twist of events, Surinder conjures up “Raj,” a hip if not awkward alter-ego who he believes will impress Tanni and help her to heal her broken heart. Instantly, Raj becomes the third party in this loveless marriage and through him the action of the movie is transformed into a comedic rendition of a love affair gone wrong.

The thing I love about this movie is that it didn’t go the way I was accustomed to in other films where somebody takes on an alter-ego and tricks their husband or wife. I initially thought Taani would be upset at Surinder for tricking her. However, she saw this as the ultimate showing of love. This twist had me sitting up going whaaaat?!? really?!? Which is definitely a good thing since most movies sort of stick to a preconceived script.

In addition to this, Khan was phenomenal as both Surinder and Raj. If I compared the two characters I couldn’t even recognize that the two men were played by the same actor until I looked up the movie. However, in retrospect it was weird that the cosmetic elements (i.e., blonde highlights) that the makeup team used to turn Surinder into Raj could be so easily hidden by the character in the actual movie when he went home to his wife as Surinder. This was one point that urked me but, the acting more than made up for it.

Sharma was also amazing. I’ve seen her act in another Bollywood film entitled, Band Baaja Baarat and her role in this film differed with her being more emotional in her acting for Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. As Taani, Sharma embodied a woman who had experience lost thoroughly. Nonetheless, the director’s choice to give her a love of dancing seemed premature in her current state of being in mourning for her ex.

Overall, I give this movie 5 stars. I’d definitely recommend this film to anybody who wants a feel good, goofy film to watch.

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