So the reading drought continues, I am picking my books up, just not for very long each time. However, I have zoomed through three audiobooks all of which I loved!
I’m still over the moon that I have discovered BorrowBox, in the past couple of weeks I have listened to The Perks of Begin a Wallflower, P.S. I Love You, and The Beekeeper of Aleppo. I’ve only seen the trailer for The Perks of Being a Wallflower and that was years ago, so I went in blind and really loved it! I think if I’d read about it before I would have worried it would be a cringey, angsty teenage tale, but it was so sensitively written and felt realistic. Sometimes with teenage novels I find tacky or sensational scenes are added for dramatic effect and end up taking away from the real drama in adolescent life. I enjoyed returning to teenage life through the eyes of Charlie and following him on his journey through high school, meeting new friends, falling in love, reading voraciously and dealing with anxiety.
The slow build of the story really made me feel like I was going along the journey with Charlie and I was pleasantly surprised with how emotionally connected I become with the characters. This was helped significantly by the wonderful reading of Noah Galvin. It’s not a big drama story line, although there are definitely unexpected twists and turns, just beautiful emotional writing that I think almost anyone could connect with. I really appreciated the unpredictability of the book in the sense that it did not follow any of the stereotypes teenage novels normally do, it felt refreshing and real which is what made it so special. I’m looking forward to seeing if the movie lives up to the book!
P.S. I Love You is a book that I have seen the film adaptation of so I was incredibly surprised to find that in the book the story is set entirely in Ireland rather than New York. I’m not normal a romance novel fan, but knowing the premise of the book I was excited to listen to it and I really enjoyed it! The story is so beautiful and moves between being hilariously funny and sorrowfully sad effortlessly. I just thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story, and even though I knew lots of the major plot points I still found it surprising and engaging. The best part about the whole book is definitely the way Holly’s character is written. She’s flawed, but brave, sad but funny and completely relatable.
I’m not really sure what else to say about it except that I loved it, it’s just a good solid book that I would highly recommend. I was also intrigued by the extra chapter at the end, the beginning of the follow up novel, which I did not know existed so I’ll definitely be looking that up in the near future.
Last but not least, The Beekeeper of Aleppo. I’d seen this book around a lot but actually didn’t know anything about it except for it being the story of an asylum seeker. The plot follows the journey of Nuri and his wife Afra, escaping Aleppo, the city they once loved, that has since been destroyed by war. I thought the book did an excellent job making the lives of refugees relatable as we often only see attention grabbing headlines and statistics not the personal stories of those escaping war and terror. Although not written by a refugee you can tell that the author, Christy Lefteri, has spent time with many refugees, listening to their stories and feeling compelled to bring their struggles to the attention of the public.
I realised recently, when listening to the podcast About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge (which you can read more about here) that I had come to a subconscious conclusion that refugees were poor people needing aid rather than a wide range of individuals, many with highly respected jobs that had been forced to leave their country under unimaginable circumstances. The Beekeeper of Aleppo similarly reinforces the humanity behind these individuals and makes it so crystal clear that anyone could be a refugee, it just so happens that I was not born in a country that is currently at war. For this reason I think the book is a must read/listen to. It is an example of why fiction is so important in widening our horizons, helping us to understand each other and unlearning some of the prejudices we have been taught.
I would probably recommend reading this as opposed to listening to it though, as the story does jump backwards and forwards in time which I think would have been clearer on the page and slightly easier to follow. I did however thoroughly enjoy listening to it and the narration was outstanding.
Have you read or listened to any of these? What did you think and what audiobooks would you recommend I listen to next?