Archive for April, 2013

Wave

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala is a very powerful book. It is riveting in the depth of it’s despair. Almost unbelievable. It is so shocking that at times I had to remind myself that it was a memoir and not fiction. If you haven’t heard about this book yet, you definitely will in short order. It is the absolutely devastating story of how Sonali lost her husband  Steve,7 year old son Vikram, 5 year old son Malli, her parents Aachchi & Seeya, and best friend Orlantha in the Boxing Day Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 while vacationing over Christmas in Sri Lanka. (Most of the reviews I read failed to mention the names of the family members she lost in this terrible tragedy –  they’re just reduced to husband, sons, mother & father. I found this appalling!) It was the last day of their vacation, Orlantha knocked on their hotel door to see if they were ready to leave (in just a minute, Steve is in the bathroom)… and then all Hell broke loose. They saw the enormous wave, panic ensued, they try to escape in a jeep up into the hills (no time to even knock on her parents’ door) the water kept rising, then surged over everything, the jeep turned over, and they got separated. Sonali managed to cling to a tree branch while everyone else disappeared never to be seen again. Eventually rescuers spot her spinning like a top, covered in mud, minus her trousers. It’s unbelievable to imagine how anyone could survive this, never mind the years of agony to follow. When reality sets in and she is ready to admit that everyone is gone, years of absolute misery coping with this unbelievable tragedy follow. Interspersed with the details of her story are little snippets of memory, happy times, that give us a look into the lives and personalities of Steve, Vik, Malli, Mum, Dad, and Orlantha before that dreadful catastrophy took their lives away. Life really isn’t survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the most resilient. I can’t imagine anyone more resilient than Sonali.

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Me Before You

I knew nothing about this book, or the author, when I plucked if off the shelf. I’d just finished a series of historical fiction books about WWI and I really wanted something entirely different. A palate cleanser of sorts… I chose well. Me Before You is written by British writer Jojo Moyes. I love British writers. Spunky, funky-dressed, Louisa Clark is an ordinary 27 year old girl with an ordinary life, working at the local cafe (the Buttered Bun) and living at home with Mum, Dad, Granddad, sister Treena and her nephew Thomas. When her boss announces he’s closing the cafe and heading back to Australia, Louisa is desperate to find a job. Money is tight in the Clark household, with just her and Dad actually bringing home the bacon. Reluctantly she accepts a position as “care assistant” to quadriplegic Will Traynor, ex-Master of the Universe, former extreme sports enthusiast, world traveler and business tycoon. As her Dad said when she announced she’d accepted the position… “If it wasn’t punishment enough ending up in a ruddy wheelchair, then you get our Lou turning up to keep you company.” Humour abounds in this b0ok. But be forewarned, there is a very serious issue at the heart of the story. Will is often uncommunicative, moody, and bossy. Lou finds it a trial to deal with at first, and isn’t sure she can cope, but eventually realizes his happiness means more to her than she ever expected. She sets out to prove that his life is worth living, even though he has plans to the contrary. She soon discovers just how challenging it is, and in doing so, eventually comes to realize that Will has changed her life for the better in ways she never imagined. When I started this book I thought it would be verging on “fluff” but I was dead wrong. Moyes is a wonderful writer, and this is a great book. Give it a go.

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Salt Sugar Fat

Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss is a real whopper of a book. Sorry for the pun, it’s intended. This is a book that delves into the giants of the processed food industry and how they manipulate our tastebuds. It’s a real eye opener that illustrates how far from real food we’ve wandered during our quest for quick, cheap, easy to cook food. We waddle (cause we’re fat) like lemmings over the cliff of sensibility and reason into the processed food isles of the grocery stores to satisfy our addictions (to salt, sugar & fat) that we didn’t even know we had. These are the 3 ingredients used by the processed food industry that determine whether or not their products fly off the shelves & into our mouths or die a fast death due to low sales. Money is everything to the industry, and you won’t believe the billions made on sales of packaged products that are SO BAD for our health. There are way too many facts & figures in this book to even zero in on a specific product or company here, but I’m sure you can name a few yourself. The depth Moss goes to, to uncover the manipulation of our mouths, is mind-boggling. The more I read, the more I kept thinking that food journalist Michael Pollan has it right. In his wonderful book, In Defence of Food, he said one thing that has stayed with me for years… “If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t.” Michael Moss just goes further into explaning why this rule is so important to our health today when nobody actually cooks a meal from scratch, and cheap junk food is everywhere to tempt our tastebuds. It’s “eater beware” now. Read this book and you may never look at the stuff on the grocery store shelves the same way again… at least I hope you won’t.

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