Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

kindredKindred utilizes the devices of science fiction in order to answer the question “how could anybody be a slave?” A woman from the twentieth century, Dana is repeatedly brought back in time by her slave-owning ancestor Rufus when his life is endangered. She chooses to save him, knowing that because of her actions a free-born black woman will eventually become his slave and her own grandmother. When forced to live the life of a slave, Dana realizes she is not as strong as her ancestors. Unable to will herself back to her own time and unable to tolerate the institution of slavery, she attempts to run away and is caught within a few hours. Her illiterate ancestor Alice succeeds in eluding capture for four days even though “She knew only the area she’d been born and raised in, and she couldn’t read a map.” Alice is captured, beaten, and sold as a slave to Rufus. As Dana is sent back and forth through time, she continues to save Rufus’s life, attempting during each visit to care for Alice, even as she is encouraging Alice to allow Rufus to rape her and thus ensure Dana’s own birth. As a twentieth-century African-American woman trying to endure the brutalities of nineteenth-century slavery, Dana answers the question, “See how easily slaves are made?” For Dana, to choose to preserve an institution, to save a life, and nurture victimization is to choose to survive.

Easy to read, an eye-opening book about slavery of black people in the States. This is great, I went from stories about old Chinese culture, Geisha of Japan, muslim laws in Saudi Arabia, old tradition of Palestina, genital mutilation in Somalia, to slavery of blacks in 18th century US. I should read more and more :)

I somehow had to compare Kindred with The Time Traveller’s Wife, because both are based on time travelling, although in completely different way (and no resemblance of the story as well). Kindred is lighter read (and write) on the chronological events, because the character goes so far back in time that it doesn’t directly affect anything on her own time. Now, Time Traveller’s Wife is VERY COMPLEX and crazy. I can’t imagine the amount of work for the writer and the editor to manage all those little details. The writer is a genious. (Cross ad for the book hey? :)

~ Finished on 7 January 2007

3.5 stars

Desert Dawn by Waris Dirie

desert dawn“I wanted to return to the place where I was born and see it with new eyes. I had no idea where my family was in Somalia. At first it seemed impossible—almost as impossible as a camel girl becoming a fashion model.” ~ Waris

I read this book altogether with the first one, Desert Flower. The sequel is about Waris coming home to Somalia, looking for her family. Easy read, like the first one. Less sad and lighter. I read the book a long time ago before I wrote this review though, so I’ve already forgotten many details and direct impression which people get soon after they close the book. In short, if you read the first one, this one is worth the time too, even just for the sake of finishing the journey.

~ Finished on 4 September 2006

3 stars

French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

I LOVE THIS BOOK! I was trying to lose a couple of kilos when I came across this book, which was perfect for me, because it’s more of eating/life style book rather than dieting (I’m always worried of the wrong way of dieting). So the tips and messages in this book can definitely be sustained for a long time, unlike unhealthy yo-yo dieting which you can probably do for a short while before going back to your old eating style and gaining your weight back.

She makes a lot of comparison between American and French women (being sort of both by living in New York and Paris most of the time). She also had personal experience of being fat the first time she went to America as an exchange student. How I’d love to see her picture that time :D!

In short, great book! Oh and there are a lot of healthy recipes in the book too. So I went to type some of them down to try them later (the book belongs to library). Some are a bit hard to try in Singapore because they use a lot of oven and grill. I’ll try them later when I go back to Australia. After reading this book, I somehow got to love bread so much more. Went to Delifrance many times during and after the reading ;). Combined that with Yakitake Japan anime and I’m totally into BREAD now more than ever!

~Finished on 04 April 2007

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Desert Flower by Waris Dirie

desert_flowerDesert Flower is a life story about Waris, a desert nomad from Somalia who ran away from her country and was becoming a fashion model. She posed for Levi’s, Revlon, and L’Oreal, just to mention a few. Today still Revlon lists her as “the most beautiful woman in the world”, together with Cindy Crawford, Claudie Schiffer, and Naomi Campbell.

She left the life as a model, became the UN Ambassador, and had campaign against FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). She was circumcized as a child, a tradition that brings unnecessary intense suffering to a lot of girls around the world.

The book is written in such a simplistic way that it took me only around 4 days to finish (1 book usually takes me about 3-4 weeks). But I found it very interesting and insightful. There’s so much to know and learn. The tradition, culture, country, and life in Somalia and Africa. As a life story, it’s simply amazing. It’s a true Cinderella story. A true American Dream (or should I say Europe? She’s after all a British citizen now). From a camel girl to international fashion model? Cool :). Don’t forget that Somalia is one of the five poorest countries in the world. The daily life story in Somalia itself made me stick my eyes to the book till the end.

~ Finished on 28 August 2006

4 stars


“My nomad days prepared me well for this life: Traveling light, moving on when the work did, accepting what life had to offer and making the most of it.” ~ Waris Dirie

Princess Sultana’s Daughters by Jean Sasson

princess sultana's daughtersThe second series of the Princess Trilogy. I know this will sound a bit sad, but after reading the first book, some of the incidents in the second book didn’t sound that tragic anymore, and that’s why at times during the reading I kind of lost the initial interest. I felt so bad about it, realizing that the actual issues and problems there even then are still happening. I’m just another person who reads the stories as if they are some kind of fairy tales, while real people with the real despair are out there somewhere hoping that their voice could be heard and understood.

The book talks about things happening after the publishing of the first book (which I also wondered what would happen to the Princess, considering how strict the society in Saudi Arabia was). Apparently there are so many people in the royal family that as long as her family doesn’t talk (Oh yeah, they found out), nobody would really know which family is in the book.

As the title goes, this book tells the stories of the Princess’ daughters and circle of friends. There are some moments that were quite frustating, because you keep on waiting for the “ending” but get nothing. A lot of problems and issues do not really have solutions or conclusions, and you endlessly wonder why would anyone let these things happen to any human being. These make it so real though. The freedom and respect of women in Saudi Arabia is not yet an achievement. It’s a dream far away. These books are considered one big step.

~ Finished 1 November 2004

3 stars

The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan

the kitchen god's wifeI love this book to death! For me it’s the best of Amy Tan’s and the best of any novel I read in my life. Every word flows so right and sounds so meaningful. I kept saying it in my mind, “She’s such a genious!”

In this book Amy Tan tells the story that of her mother’s. From China to America, passed war, two marriages, lost children, and so on.

The choice of the title is very clever. Really, don’t you think it sounds like a cookbook, which makes you think that it probably wouldn’t take you nowhere but the household kitchen? Well you’re wrong! Because this story will take you far far away to mainland China like a dream (or a nightmare). Not until about half of the book that I realized the meaning of the title. It shows the entire book in a single line. Genious! =)

~ Finished on 30 June 2004

5 stars

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

the five people you meet in heavenEye-catching title. I knew Albom Mitch from Tuesday With Morrie, but I haven’t read that one. I knew this book since late 2003, but only got the chance to read it a year later. Like my mate said, he has a dramatic way of writing.

It’s about an afterlife of an old man. He goes to heaven to meet 5 people that would explain all the things happened in his life. Why things turn this way and that. These 5 people are ones that pass his life, whether he realized it or not.

Interesting topic, although there are a few things that I don’t quite agree with. Nevertheless I appreciate the author’s idea of heaven as he graciously states that everyone has the right to have his own.

~ Finished it on 15 December 2004

3 stars
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