Tag Archives: adolescence

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Supermutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki Title: SuperMutant Magic Academy
Author: Jillian Tamaki
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1770461987
Genre: Comics, Graphic Novel
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I love graphic novels. The genre makes me smile all the time. Well, mostly all the time. There are times when I go all morose as well, but that’s only because of the plot and nothing more than that. So when I received a copy of Jillian Tamaki’s new graphic novel, “SuperMutant Magic Academy” by the publisher, I was overjoyed.

Supermutant Magic Academy - Image 1

What is the book about?

It is true to its title. It is about Mutants, who are in an academy, and of course who are magical. That being said, they are almost like any other teenager – bursting with puberty, adolescence making them think otherwise and going through the same old pangs of growing up and deciding whether to love or not and how does one then become popular.

Supermutant Magic Academy - Image 2

Why should you read this book?

There is humour in the book, loads of it and also sprinkled with a whole lot of irreverence and not to forget their paranormal abilities that are juxtaposed brilliantly against the everyday teen concerns. The world is but surely familiar and yet it is the abilities that come along in the book, that take you by surprise and sometimes shock.

Supermutant Magic Academy - Image 3

I cannot talk about individual characters because there are so many of them, but needless to say that you might just fall in love with each of them and their little quirks. It is a mash-up of Hogwarts and Gossip Girl (I know some of you might be cringing but that’s what it is and it is a delightful read at that).

Supermutant Magic Academy - Image 4

Tamaki’s illustrations are almost perfect and invite you to a world like none other. Her characterization is sharp and full of detailing, page after page and that is what also will appeal to the serious reader in some of you. Tamaki has a knack to understand the psyche of her characters and to bring each nuance to life through her illustrations and story-telling capacity. There are just right enough doses of angst, hopelessness and so much hope at times that you will wonder where that came from in the book.

Supermutant Magic Academy - Image 5

“SuperMutant Magic Academy” will take you through vignettes of every single character and their kinks – from Trixie, a dinosaur girl to Everlasting Boy who is immortal, to Wendy who has cat ears and also you will meet Marsha, the grumpy friend who carries a secret torch for Wendy and many more, equally weird and strange. The thing though is that you will fall in love with each and every one of them and hope that the book doesn’t end. I could not stop thinking about them long after I had finished the book and I am almost certain that I will go back to it. This is also the kind of book that can be enjoyed by anyone – from teenagers to the middle-aged readers. I wish there is a sequel in line for this one.

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SuperMutant Magic Academy

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh Title: My Sunshine Away
Author: M.O. Walsh
Publisher: Putnam, Penguin USA
ISBN: 9780399169526
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 307
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

There are books that open universes up for you. There are books that make you see life differently and make you realize that maybe growing-up is so much more than what meets the eye. It is about decisions, choices and consequences. For me, off-late there was a growing-up book that had that kind of impact the way “My Sunshine Away” by M.O. Walsh has had and in the truest sense of the word, I cannot even call it just a coming-of-age book when there is so much more to it. Also, let me add here that this is a debut novel that will knock you off your feet.

“My Sunshine Away” is set in the late-eighties in Baton Rouge, in Southern USA. It starts with a crime – the rape of a fifteen year-old girl Lindy Simpson and that is when life changes for the entire town. The idyllic suburbia is no longer what it used to be or what its residents perceived it to be. The narrator of the story was fourteen when the crime took place and he loved Lindy and how the crime and the events that followed changed him completely. The book delves deep into the psychology and limitations of human emotions and what it means to be human more than anything else.

What makes this book so different is the way it is structured. It is not just another coming-of-age story nor is it just another mystery, nor is it just another literary fiction debut. There is to more what meets the eye in this book. There are secrets that people living in every place keep to protect their loved ones. It is a lament to growing-up and innocence lost. There is a lot of guilt laced on the pages of this book, not to forget love in its purest and not-so-purest forms.

The element of the Louisiana mystery is all-pervading and almost delicious as the novel unfolds. It is a part of the story for sure but there is something else to it. The late-eighties and early-nineties nuances are captured to every single detail – the late night conversations to watching a TV show at a designated time to unfolding mysteries about yourself as you grow-up to becoming an adult from a teenager.

M.O Walsh’s prose is biting in most places and so tender in the others. There is a good mix of empathy and cruelty that shines from the pages. The book makes you realize and mull over vulnerability and what safety means. “My Sunshine Away” I think in most ways just holds a mirror to the way we live and how we really are. The book wants to make you believe in so many things nice about life and at the same time makes you see the dark places as well. I for one could not stop turning the pages on this one and highly recommend it to one and all as their next read this summer.

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387 Short Stories: Day 85: Story 85: The Jungle by Elizabeth Bowen

The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen Title: The Jungle
Author: Elizabeth Bowen
Taken from: The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen

Elizabeth Bowen is one of those writers who grow on you. It has been years since I have been reading her. She is almost a friend now. One of those best friends, I can safely say and no matter how dark her writing can get, I somehow find it comforting and seek refuge in it, all the time.

Today was one of those days and her book was right beside me. So I turned to a page and it happened to be “The Jungle”. This story is rather unique according to me. It speaks of adolescence – of friendship and at the same time, there is this understated tragedy at the heart of it. It is about teenage girls and the plot behind the school, they refer to as “the jungle”.

The story is striking and will appeal to people of all ages and perhaps also remind you of your teenage years. Bowen is not sugar coating anything. She talks about everything under the sun – relationships, sexuality and the conditions that surround them. A read not to be missed.

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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

Book Review: Who Will Run The Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital by Lorrie Moore Title: Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
Author: Lorrie Moore
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 9780571268559
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 148
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

So I read The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger, a cure for adolescence as per The Novel Cure. There was another book waiting for me to be devoured – for the same ailment and that was also recommended by them. It is, “Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?” by Lorrie Moore. Let me tell you one thing here: If you think that Salinger had all answers to angst and adolescence, then you must read this small gem by Lorrie Moore, to really get into the skin of what it is to be young and the memory of it as it surfaces after a period of time.

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital is a bittersweet tale about growing up. It is not written in the linear format and that is one of the things, which I loved about the book. It does not sentimentalize teenage or adulthood. Moore has this uncanny ability to show things for what they are. If the characters are hurt, then the reader must feel it. If they are happy, the readers must rejoice in their moments. I also firmly believe after reading this book, that every reader who wants to read a book on teenage must start with this one.

The book is about two friends – living in small-town America, in a place called Horsehearts – somewhere on the border between Canada and the US. The friends are Berie and Sil and the story is narrated by Berie. The story moves between Paris, where Berie is with her husband and going through a tough time in her relationship, to the time she was fifteen and life changed drastically for her and her best-friend Sil. The book shifts narratives and that is what keeps the reader going. The themes of adolescence and the angst with it are touched on brilliantly.

“Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?” is sensitive and yet restrained. Moore does a fascinating job of describing the ordinary with details and grace that are nowhere close to being ordinary. Growing-up and in contrast adulthood are dealt with delicately, without overstepping on any one aspect. The characters shine through the entire book. There is not a single line or situation which should not have been a part of the book. Thank God, I got to know of this book through The Novel Cure and read it as a part of the challenge. A read for everyone who wants to read more about adolescence and be cured.

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Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780241950425
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 192
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I think some books just remain, no matter when you read them. It doesn’t matter. They are beyond time perhaps. For me, The Catcher in the Rye is one such book. I have heard a lot of people say a lot of things, about it, however to me it still remains special. Why, you ask? Maybe because I read it at sixteen. Maybe because I read it when I was away from my family – the plot had some perspective I think. I didn’t want to be Holden, but certainly thoughts drifted in the manner he thought. J.D. Salinger knew what he was doing I think while writing this novel. What he didn’t know was the reaction or strings of actions would be created by this book.

Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon and had The Catcher in the Rye in his hand. John Hinckley Jr. attempted an assassination on Ronald Reagan in 1981 and one of the books owned by him was the one written by Salinger. There are several movie and television references to the novel as well. What is it about this book that evokes such reactions? Why? To my sixteen-year old mind, unwell and in bed, it was just another novel lent to me by my uncle and I had to read it. I read it. I loved it and that was it.

The Catcher in the Rye is not just another novel then. It is the voice of several generations of teenagers in the sense of the world. It is the world of angst and no sense of direction. Or maybe it is the voice of intellectualizing everything or trivializing it all. Holden Caulfield is more than an icon. He is someone who is trying to make sense of his life and life around him. It might appear to be as simple as this, when it is not or may be it is. He encounters people – different people as he takes off from his fancy school Pencey Prep and takes on his journey in New York City. This is where it all begins or almost.

The book was banned in most schools in the US of A. It is because of its vulgar language, which honestly I did not have a problem with then or now. To me the writing is just surreal, even after rereading it after fourteen years. It just manages to evoke the same sentiments in me and that is why I call it timeless. It talks about adolescence and its struggle like no other book. The Catcher in the Rye in that sense of the word is truly a classic and will be for years to come. I am glad I reread it. Thanks to my The Novel Cure Reading Challenge. It is guaranteed to cure angst of adolescence.

Next Up in the Challenge: Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore

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Book Review: The To-Let House by Daisy Hasan

Title: The To-Let House
Author: Daisy Hasan
Publisher: Tara Books
ISBN: 978-81-906756-5-9
Genre: :Literary Fiction
Pages: 227
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

When you talk about a region that no one speaks about, there is enough excitement held within the pages of the book, to sustain the readers’ interest. That is what happens when you read, “The To-Let House” by Daisy Hasan. Written without any sugar-coating, this book comes from a place that is surreal and at the same time haunting.

The To-Let House is a story of four individuals and their lives. It may seem a mundane, run-of-the-mill plot, however it is not. The story is set in the city of Shillong, in the North-East, an almost forgotten territory for most writers. I have yet to come across more books set in this area and sadly there aren’t many there.

Back to the book, The To-Let House is not an easy read. At least it wasn’t for me. The story kept racing between the past and the present and took some time for me to get hold of it, however once I did, it was a read like no other. One cannot imagine that this is the author’s first book. The book is about childhood memories and how much do we hold close and how much do we let go of. As the children enter adolescence, their friendships and lives are taken to different levels – their reactions, their opinions and also the territory’s violent background, which shapes them as people.

The writing is visibly dark and dense and yet hopeful. It leaves you with a sense of connection with the characters – Di, Clemmie, Kulay and Addy. Their worlds, their stories and their lives are at the core of the book – what they think and how they make sense of where they live and that’s when you realize that it is not the house at the core, but people. The book will lead you in and charm you and make you forget the world as quickly as you can. Read and enjoy it. It is one of the books that will get you thinking and not stop.

Buy it from here: https://www.tarabooks.com/books/?product_search=the+to-let+house