It’s not so unusual to think that there is at least one person in this world who shares the same name as you. And in the Digital Age, all you have to do is Google or Facebook your name to find out who that is. What is highly unlikely, however, is that you would unexpectedly run into this person in a porn store after you’ve been ditched by your friends or “stood up” by your online relationship. Even more unlikely is that this person would end up dating your best friend or that you would end up dating that person’s best friend. But that’s the very story of straight Will Grayson and depressed and gay will grayson.
Will Grayson, will grayson is the first LGBTQ YA fiction I’ve read so far. For me, the book was less about homosexual relationships and more about how when we learn to look past our own hurts we can truly see how much we love and how much we are loved. We are able to truly see ourselves and truly see others. In fact, I didn’t even really notice the fact that two boys were falling in love. Of course this doesn’t matter. My point is that although Will Grayson, will grayson inolved homosexual relationships, it had much larger themes that overshadowed the fact that it features gay characters.
Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters meet at a weekly support group meeting for cancer patients, which both are sort of forced to attend. That very same day, their relationship begins with a movie, V for Vandetta, and an exchange of book recommendations. Hazel recommends An Imperial Affliction.
An Imperial Affliction becomes an essential part of their developing relationship. Upon completion, Gus becomes almost as curious as Hazel about how what happens to the characters in the book as the book literally has no ending. So Gus, who is obsessed with living a purposeful life, decides to use his last Wish (via Make a Wish Foundation) to help bring closure for Hazel. Despite several obstacles, both travel to Amsterdam to meet the author of the book himself, Peter Van Houten. Surely, he will know the fate of his characters.
And the Mountains Echoed begins as Saboor tells his two children the story of a poor man, Baby Ayub, who chooses to let his youngest and most favored child go so that the boy can have a better future. Not only is this the last story Saboor entertains his children with, but also foreshadows the fate of Saboor’s daughter Pari. Pari and her older brother, Abdullah, are both devastated when Pari is given away to a wealthy couple in Kabul, the Wahdati’s, for they were unusually close. Following the story of Abdullah and Pari’s separation are a series of intertwined stories documenting the lives of a number of people who are all connected in some way.
One of the most memorable quotes for me was what Pari says to her niece – also named Pari – regarding her adoptive mother, Nila Wahdati,
“I wish I had been more kind. That is something a person will never regret. You will never say to yourself when you are old, Ah, I wish I was not good to that person. You will never think that”
Four hundred and sixteen pages long, this is truly a must read!
Joyce Carol Oate’s Black Dahlia & White Rose is a collection of 11 short stories, which starts off with Black Dahlia & White Rose. Based on a true unsolved murder mystery, Black Dahlia relays a first-person account of two young girls, Elizabeth Short and Marilyn Monroe (yes, Marilyn Monroe), aspiring to stardom. It answers questions such as how one became the unfortunate victim of brutal murder, while the other rose to fame.
Despite raving reviews, I didn’t find all of the stories in the collection interesting to read. But, in addition the cover story, I did enjoy reading I.D. and Deceit. I.D. revolves around the experience of a middle school student in New Jersey who is asked to identify the body of a woman who may possibly be her blackjack dealing mother. Similarly Deceit also centers around a parent-child relationship. It presents the case of how a mother finds out that her daughter has been physically abused.