My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

‘It’s not God. Just my parents,’ I say. ‘I want to sue them for the rights to my own body.

My Sister’s Keeper is one of the most heart wrenching and tear jerking novels Jodi Picoult has ever written. Jodi Picoult is an American writer and was awarded the New England Bookseller Award for fiction in 2003.

My Sister’s Keeper is a story, revolving around the lives of five people and how some decisions can both tear apart as well as stitch together families.

Anna, the protagonist of the story decides to sue her family for rights to her own body. Her sister Kate had been diagnosed with a rare cancer form, for which donors were hard to find, hence Anna had been used as a donor all through her life to save her sister’s life. However after a point Anna decided otherwise.

This beautiful tragedy is portrayed through the eyes of all the five main characters of the story.

Whether it is the feelings of a father who has to choose between his wife and daughter, or it’s the mother who has to ask one of her daughters to sacrifice herself for her other daughter. Every emotion in this story captures the reader’s heart.

It is recommended that one has a strong mind to be able to read this roller-coaster of emotions that Picoult has created as one of her best works. This book is not your average fairy tale, with real life situations, real life pain, and real life strength that one needs to make certain decisions in life.

Having an elder sister myself, I was anti the concept of this story when I first started reading it, as I can both die and kill for my sister. However, as I continued reading and getting closer to the characters, I realised sometimes there is a lot more to decisions regarding people we love, then what initially meets the eye.

Picoult with her talent of perfectly portraying human emotions and her notorious habit of plot twists manages to keep the reader hooked on till the very end, making them fall in love with both the book and life in general!

 

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Here’s To Why I Think Narcos TV Series Is An Eye-opener!

Narcos is an American crime drama which featured on Netflix as its exclusive in the year 2015. It is created and produced by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, and Doug Miro. It is a historic drama aimed at showing the world how drug trafficking affected places like Columbia, USA, Cali. The two seasons of Narcos which have aired till now, feature the life story of Pablo Escobar who was the first drug lord to start dealing cocaine overseas. While the much awaited third season, is currently running since 1st September, featuring The Cali Cartel, a group formed by the Rodriguez brothers and Santacruz.

With a really new concept for historical drama, Netflix started the show by creating a lot of hype. But the real challenge was to not let fiction overrule the actual history and yet have an interesting plot line. The plot is fast paced and thrilling at every point of time. Although we can see both the DEA and Pablo Escobar’s point of view in the story but it never feels dragged or repeated. The show is really gripping and once you start its hard to let go.

Although it focuses on drug trafficking but other political and crime concerns of the world are highlighted as well. Like the communist propaganda which created nuisance in the country. We see the world in a new light and a different perspective, gradually opening our eyes to the evils of drug trafficking. Although two seasons were too short to explain the history, and the characters of the show, but they still managed to bring into limelight certain significant points. For instance, the contradicting character of Escobar can be deciphered without much efforts. We can clearly see how Escobar was a family man who wanted to help the poor but on the flip side he killed people without a second thought, . He not only influenced people through his robin hood image but also tried his hand in politics.

Season 1 and 2 showed a violent drug lord while season 3 will focus on Cali Cartel which are a more subtle bunch of people and hence, harder to catch, creating more problems for the DEA. I had been eagerly waiting for the third season and now, that its out, I cannot tell you how excited I am.

I would give this show a 5/5 as it has a very intriguing storyline. I would recommend you guys to watch this show as it provides good details of history showing bits and pieces of the actual incident.

Mrs Funnybones by Twinkle Khanna

Twinkle Khanna is a former Bollywood film actress, who debuted her first non-fiction novel, Mrs Funnybones, in the year 2015. Mrs Funnybones sold over one lakh copies making Twinkle Khanna India’s highest-selling female writer of 2015.[

We have read about life from the eyes of famous politicians. We have seen the world from the side of religious fanatics. We have felt, and laughed at the miseries of engineering students and we have experienced the journeys of men who conquered the world with their talent.

It was therefore a welcome change to read about an ordinary person like myself, who makes mistakes, pays for them, is NOT perfect and likes it that way.

Mrs Funnybones is a refreshing debut novel by the ever-witty Twinkle Khanna, where she explores the life of the modern, Indian woman.

Whether it is the ancient, religious or superstitious customs we need to follow for keeping the hearts of our old parents or keeping a step ahead and being ever ready to answer our over-smart children, Khanna deals with all everyday problems of life.

With her ever present humour she manages to capture life in its comic sense. She discusses the everyday problems we all face and shares her insight on some serious issues as well.

Through her original writing style, Khanna manages to keep the reader hooked on to this novel.

Being the typical Indian myself, I particularly enjoyed reading about those annoyingly talkative strangers we are forced to share parts of our days with and those stuck up aunties who are forever trying to act fancy. Call me evil! But just knowing the fact that even celebrities out there cannot be spared of these everyday horrors, makes me feel better about myself (evil grin).

At the same time though, the recollection of college Goa trips, talkative rickshaw drivers and the silliest arguments with moms, takes me down the pleasant memory lane as well.

More than anything else however, the very basic level at which I could relate to this book as a girl, a student, a fellow writer and an Indian is what made me like this book.

So everyone out there who is looking for a simple and uncomplicated fresh book to read, Mrs Funnybones is the best choice.

The Night of – A TV Show More Than Just a Simple Crime Drama!

The Night Of is an American Crime television show that was premiered in 2016. It is a miniseries based on Criminal Justice, a 2008–09 British television series. The plot of The Night of revolves around a college student Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed) and a crime that he may or may not have committed.

One night Nasir’s invited to a party and takes his father’s cab without permission. However, when Andrea Cornish (Sofia Black-D’Elia) gets into his cab, he has trouble telling her to leave the taxi. Soon, they both end up at Andrea’s place where they consume illegal drugs and get intimate. The next scene shows Nasir waking up in the kitchen and going upstairs to get his things, which is when he discovers that Andrea is dead. In blind panic, he runs out of the house only to realize that he left his keys inside. He breaks in to her house, grabs his jacket which has his keys, a vial and a blood covered knife. A neighbor sees him breaking into Andrea’s house and run out a minute later and calls the police.

Nasir is pulled over a couple of blocks away for taking an illegal left turn. Once at the police station, the knife is retrieved from his jacket and he is taken into custody.

The entire season which has 8 episodes revolves around this case where Nasir pleads his innocence over and over again. Nasir is put into Rickons Prison awaiting his prosecution, where he is attacked twice, after which he makes connections with Freddy (Michael K. Williams) an influential prisoner.

Towards the end of the season, changes in Nasir’s personality are evident, from looking like an innocent college student; he turns into looking like a true stereotypical colored convict. It shows how wrongly convicting someone of a crime can sometimes turn innocent citizens into criminals.

The show also shows the negative/racist reaction of people towards the Muslim community after Nasir’s arrest, it portrays their status in the citizen hierarchy and the injustices they face regardless of their status of citizenship.

This show kept me on the edge at times, while left me completely uninterested at times as well. The suspense building up throughout the season led me to a great deal of disappointment at the end. Whether or not the ending was to my liking, it was realistic and relatable.

You’d have to watch to know who killed Andrea and whether or not justice was served.

I’d give this show a 3/5 rating.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor. He wrote a total of nine tragic plays, out of which Hamlet is the longest one. The play is divided into five acts and is set in Denmark. It dramatizes the revenge of the central character Prince Hamlet. His uncle, Claudius, had murdered his own brother and seized the throne by remarrying his deceased brother’s widow Gertrude.

The story begins when one day Hamlet’s friend Horatio encounters a ghost of the late King Hamlet. The ghost reveals to Hamlet that it was Claudius who murdered him in order to usurp the throne. The ghost then asks Hamlet to take the revenge on his behalf. Therefore, Hamlet takes on the ‘antic disposition’ to find out whether Claudius killed his father or not. However, he gets too involved in faking his madness that he hurts Ophelia’s feelings, Polonius’ daughter and the love of his life. And Ophelia, hurt by his remarks, commits suicide by drowning herself. Further, he blames and insults his mother for his condition. Later, Hamlet, accidently, kills Polonius instead of Claudius which makes Polonius’ son, Laertes ectremely furious. Laertes then, conspires with Claudius to kill Hamlet through the poisoned wine and sword. However, the poisoned wine gets consumed by Gertrude and she dies. Later, all the three – Claudius, Laertes & Hamlet die in the act of killing each other. But before dying, Hamlet names Fortinbras, the Norwegian prince, his successor and the play ends.

Hamlet, is scene as a hero who struggled a lot with his psychological conflicts. The play also contains a psychoanalytic angle of ‘Oedipal Complex’, a famous theory stated by psychoanalytic critic Sigmund Freud. The “Oedipal Complex” has been projected through the relationship that Hamlet shares with his mother. It highlights his repressed thoughts about her. He adores her in sexual terms but is also furious at her. Hamlet begs his mother not to sleep with Claudius but she refuses. This is similar to D.H.Lawrence’s ’Sons and Lovers’ where the mother refuses his son’s request of not to sleep with the father.  Moreover, Hamlet calls her mother almost a ‘whore’ as she remarried without completing proper mourning of his dead husband. This incident is similar to Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ where the American mistress, after mourning the death of his lover Kurtz, goes away with another person.

The play also adopts nuances from Christian ideology as Hamlet talks about the impermanence of life and karma. Hamlet’s decision of not killing Claudius in the praying form depicts his knowledge about sins. Also, he remains in a confused state of “To be or not to be”, throughout the play. But, ultimately, Hamlet kills Claudius in the end and becomes a sinner himself.

 

How Well Does Riverdale TV Series Portray Archie’s Comics?

I grew up reading Archie’s comics and always rooted for Archie and Betty. Every morning, I would ecstatically open the newspaper just to read the Archie comic strip under the comic section. My joy knew no bounds when I discovered that it was being transformed into a TV series, appropriating the original characters and placing them in the mysterious background of the fictitious city of Riverdale.

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The show developed by Roberto Aguirre Sacassa, cannot be specifically put under one genre-category. The show revolves around the life of Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) and his friends Betty Cooper (Lilli Reinhart), the perfect and pretty girl-next door, Veronica Lodge (Camilia Mendes), the newbie rich and hot girl from NYC and Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), his ex best friend. It is set against the peaceful background of Riverdale, where things become dark and ugly after the mysterious disappearance and death of a student, Jason Blossom who was engaged in a love-affair with Betty’s sister, Polly Cooper.

The gang tries to unravel the mystery and realize that they and their families are somehow involved in it. It is dominantly a thriller, but can also be classified as a teenage drama series with the clichéd ‘bitchy’ cheerleader squad, a basketball team in which players regard themselves as the ‘chosen ones’, where loners are considered to be losers but end up being the coolest. It is quite emotional and exciting as everyone has some or the other secret to keep.

Further, there are romantic subplots, where Archie has a romantic stint with his music teacher. Most popular is Betty’s love for Archie and how later these feelings get directed towards Jughead.

Though, Riverdale is like a mix of so many genres, with subtle comedy and a dark mystery, it certainly isn’t no match to the comics and in no way can replace the fun which was procured by skimming through the pages of Archie’s Comics. However, it is still entertaining and refreshes the viewers. It’s just 1 season i.e. 13 episodes old and the second season will air in October, 2017. The season finale did leave the viewers with so many unexpected turns and unanswered questions, that I’m sure they would eagerly be waiting for the next season.

I would give it a rating of 3.5/5.

Sad Girls by Lang Leav

For all those who are not familiar with Lang Leav, let me tell you that she is an internationally bestselling author. Lang Leav has also won the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award along with Churchill Fellowship. I was really intrigued by this book, Sad Girls, the first time I heard about it. Everything about this book builds up so much curiosity that it was uncontainable. The cover has a minimalist sketch of a presumably sad girl while the back only says “A girl who cried wolf; a boy in sheep’s clothing; a killer romance; a deadly secret.”

I just couldn’t bear not knowing what happens in this book, and if I could go back in time, I would probably put off reading it for as long as possible. I found it hard to finish reading this book because of how triggering it is at certain points. For me, personally, this book proved out to be quite unhealthy mostly because it had so many realistic triggers starting with a suicide. Yes, the story revolves around the aftermath of a suicide. There’s an evident guilt there, there’s confusion and there are tears, shed both by the characters and the readers. Someone once told me that grief is the strongest emotion one can feel, and this book makes me believe that. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the book, the ending however ruined a perfectly good story.

The story revolves around Audrey, her two best friends, Lucy and Candela, the suicide of Ana and Rad, Ana’s boyfriend.

This story has so many ups and downs, it has hope, it has devastation and it has realistic scenarios. Reading this book was honestly one emotional roller coaster, reading about the pain of losing someone to suicide in a very relatable and realistic way was the highlight of this book, at least for me. It shows the importance for seeking help when it comes to mental health in a positive way, but the portrayal of how a therapist is, according to me was quite unrealistic and deceiving.

After Ana’s funeral, Audrey starts spending a lot of time together with Rad, which causes problems in her relationship as well as with her mother.  Sooner than later, the two put an end to their friendship but they keep finding each other in life.

It is a beautiful story which deals with real issues. The ending however, was unpredictable and strange, it made me cringe and it made me feel like an idiot. I give this book 3/5.