Category Archives: The Novel Cure Reading Challenge

Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig

Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig Title: Second Star to the Right
Author: Deborah Hautzig
Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN: 9780141305806
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 176
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I am back to my reading project of ‘The Novel Cure’ and this time since I finished D, I began with E – the first ailment being “Eating Disorders” and the first cure was “Second Star to the Right” by Deborah Hautzig. I didn’t realize the book was a young adult novel till I started reading it and since I love Young Adult Novels, I was completely bowled over.

Leslie Heller is a bright, attractive and a regular teenager who lives a life of privilege in New York City. Her life takes a drastic turn when she begins to diet in her quest for happiness and that becomes an obsession with her, to the point of death by starvation. She and her family struggle with it and at the same time Leslie also has to battle with her past and her Jewish roots.

The book deals with the emotional and mental trauma that an anorexia nervosa patient goes through. It is autobiographical and therefore the writing becomes so strong and emotional. Leslie as seen through Deborah (because she is based on her) is raw, intense and confused. The writing is heart-breaking as you see Leslie and her family coping with anorexia and coming to terms with what can be done to cure it.

“Second Star to the Right” puts a lot of things in perspective for teenagers, mainly about the issues of fitting-in and acceptance and what it takes in our world to be what you want to be. I think I will for one gift this book to every teenager I know to make him or her understand that life is not always about being accepted. It is about being who you want to be.

Next Up on the Novel Cure Reading Project:

Ailment: Egg on Your Tie
Cure: Restoration by Rose Tremain

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Book Review: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett Title: The Secret Garden
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Publisher: Vintage Classics
ISBN: 9780099572954
Genre: Children’s Classics
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

“The Secret Garden” is a friend’s favourite book. He cannot stop raving about it. He was after my life to read it at so many points in life and yet I just would not. Maybe I was not ready for it then. But when I was I picked it up and loved it. It was a part of the Novel Cure Reading Challenge. The book is featured under: To Cure Adoption and that is what the book is partly about, or I would say very superficially about. It is more about finding home and something magical in your heart, as cliché as it may sound.

Mary Lennox’s family is dead. Her parents and most of her family died due to a cholera breakout. She is the only one surviving and found all by herself in a big huge house. She is lonely. She pretends to be brave and she is not at all courageous. She is only ten years old and never known what it is like to be loved and perhaps to love someone. Till she chances upon a garden – a locked, derelict garden, which comes to become a place she loves and a garden which heals her and teaches her how to love and to be loved.

I have not said much about the story because I would want readers to explore and find out the way I did. The writing is fantastic. It does not seem that it was written such a long time ago, and published in 1910. The themes are as relevant today. The angst of childhood and the need to find out more is omnipresent and exists in every child. To me, the book is one of the best children’s classics I have read in a long time and will most certainly reread it.

Next Up on the Novel Cure Reading Challenge: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Bronte
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Signature Editions
ISBN: 978-1435136540
Genre: Classic
Pages: 328
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

If there is one classic, which I go back to every year and continue to do so, without as much batting an eye-lid then that has to be, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. For some it is Pride and Prejudice. For others it could be anything by Mark Twain. For me, it is just this sole book written by Emily Bronte, who according to me was also the most interesting amongst the three.

I never need a reason to read this one, however this time; I also read it for The Novel Cure Reading Challenge. While it is a story of passion and love, it is also a story of class, of families, of how one cannot resist and yet must one do what society dictates. At the core however, it is a love story like none other. The story is dark. It is not pretty. It is not meant to be. It was considered vulgar and preposterous when it was first published. Emily went to her grave thinking she was a failure. The book was reprinted by Charlotte and now it is one of the most beloved classics of our times.

Wuthering Heights is narrated by Nelly Dean. She has lived around for a long time. The story is told in extended flashback to a lodger or rather the tenant at Thrushcross Grange. Nelly narrates the story of Heathcliff and Catharine – of their obsession, their love and their madness. Of how they could not be together and yet would not give up each other for the world.

I remember reading the novel for the first time when I was thirteen. I was depressed for a week. The empathy towards Heathcliff and the need to also beat him up was strong. The need to for once, allow Heathcliff and Catharine to be happy ever after was beyond anything else which I ever wanted and yet I knew this was not possible.
The book evokes strange feelings in the reader and those feelings remain. It is more than just unrequited love. You know there is only one way in which this story will end and yet – you pray that things become alright and they do, in a different way of sorts. The core theme also, mostly forgotten is that Heathcliff is an outsider. He has been adopted by Mr. Earnshaw at the beginning of the novel, which Hindley, Catharine’s brother cannot stand. This is just the start of things to come though.

At some point you feel Catharine also detests him and to some extent maybe that is true, but you know that love will prevail and she is merely trying to succumb, but you know she is stronger than that. Wuthering Heights will break your heart – even if you do not want it to, it will. There is no way out from that one. A read which you will never forget for years to come, that is for sure.

This one as per the Novel Cure is to Cure Adoption.

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Book Review: Run by Ann Patchett

Run by Ann Patchett Title: Run
Author: Ann Patchett
Publisher: Harper Perennial
ISBN: 9780061340642
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I remember when I first read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I was stunned. I was beyond stunned. I found myself crying in parts and pieces of the book, which doesn’t happen too often to me. While Bel Canto was about strangers getting to know each other under the most unlikely circumstance, Run is about family, roots, and love at a larger level and perspective.

“Run” happened to me while reading The Novel Cure and of course I had embarked on the Novel Cure challenge anyway, so it had to be read in that order. “Run” is not an easy book to write about – not because the plot is challenging or the story is difficult to follow. The reason it is challenging is the voice Patchett gives her characters & the conflicting and most unlikely situations she throws them in.

Bernard Doyle – the former mayor of Boston, only wants to see one of his sons grow up and enter politics. His oldest son Sullivan is out to follow his heart. Tip and Teddy Doyle are inclined to do what each wants to – work with fishes – aquaculture and the second one wants to become a minister. An incident involving a mother and her daughter on a cold winter night is what shapes the entire course of the book. What Bernard then wants to do is keep his children safe. That becomes the sole objective. Nothing really matters.

The tone of the book is fast-paced and yet you tend to stop through paragraphs and pages and mull over what you have read. Patchett has this uncanny writing style – she writes so nonchalantly (or so it seems) and suddenly the reader is left astounded with sentences, that are packed with emotion and hit the reader in the face. Run is a book that you will go back to and reread at some point, because it demands to be reread. It is that good.

Next Up on the Challenge: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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Book Review: In Youth is Pleasure & I Left My Grandfather’s House by Denton Welch

Apple and Drops of rain Title: In Youth is Pleasure & I Left My Grandfather’s House
Author: Denton Welch
Publisher: Exact Change
ISBN:
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages:
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

“In Youth is Pleasure & I Left My Grandfather’s House” by Denton Welch is one of those books which you need to have time to reread the minute after you have finished reading it. It is one of those books that demands to be reread, I think. It rather compels you to reread it. Some books have that effect on people and those books are few and far in-between. This is one of them. I discovered this book through The Novel Cure Reading Challenge and I cannot thank Susan and Ella enough for including this in their book.

The book while about adolescence and growing-up is also sometimes a meditation on the world around us – on how we choose to see and behave in it and how it really is. To be very honest, it is but alone the descriptions that make this book what it is – a classic. Welch takes the ordinary and creates something extraordinary out of it. A simple scene becomes magical and the reader is in for a treat. There are very few writers who are able to manage that.

“In Youth is Pleasure” is definitely about coming of age, however it is also about life and all that it has to offer and doesn’t. Orville Pym is a character like none other than I have come across in fiction in recent times. It is a story of his one summer and how it changes him and the way he sees things and people. Pym is full of despair and yet there are moments that redeem him quite suddenly. As a reader, I did have a tough time sometimes reading this book, however it was only initially. Later, it was a breeze.

Most people have not heard of this gem of a book and that needs to change for sure. It is a book that needs to be cherished and savoured like fine wine. I will also go so far and say that it is a book which you will never forget after having read it.

Next Up on the Challenge: Cure for Adoption: Run by Ann Patchett