Monday, April 6, 2015
I complained the most about people not taking the book club seriously and I'm late on this book. My apologies! I think I overestimated my skills as a reader and started another book earlier this month and ended up starting this one late.
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it did a great job dealing with real issues while maintaining a sense of lightness and not spiraling out of control into full blown tragedy. Particularly, I really felt that I took my first steps into understanding what PTSD exactly is. I liked Luis’ narrative and how we were able to witness this irrational anger that he ends up feeling, probably as a result of PTSD.
I think Neha was annoyed at Avis’ lack of action towards her son’s violence but I found myself wondering the whole time what I would do in her situation. I think it would be really tough to, at the first sign of abuse, decide to take steps that would undoubtedly end her son’s career as a law enforcement officer. It is a terribly delicate situation because I’m sure even if he went to a counselor not connected with the police department, there are probably some rules that would require the counselor to divulge this information since he may be a risk to the community. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that I do think that war veterans come back with very few options on how to conduct their lives and assimilate in society. Of course, in retrospect, it is obvious she should have acted immediately but I think it’s pretty realistic that there was some part of her in denial and probably hoping that his actions were just this one time.
I think a theme of the book is people pitying themselves due to their own dismal lives, then realizing that others have it worse, and finally taking steps to help another, which in turn, ends up helping themselves. Avis is depressed about her failed marriage but realizes how much more important it is for her to ensure Lauren’s safety and Nate’s mental health. Luis is distraught over Sam and the boy he shot but then realizes how unfortunate Bashkim is. Bashkim is upset about his mother but acts selflessly towards the end when he decides that he needs to be there for his little sister, Tirana, and will do whatever it takes for them to live together.
I think what I enjoyed most was just the author's voice when writing as each character. I remember we read some book last time we started this book club where the child character's narrative was so unrealistic. Like, the author completely exaggerated the incorrect grammar of the child's dialogue and it was really grating. This author did a great job of simplifying language and ideas when writing Bashkim's character and when writing Luis, you could feel his anger and then the dissipation of his anger when he realizes he has no idea why he's so worked up about something.
I actually didn't have many analytic thoughts while reading the book, which I partly think is a good thing. I just read it and came back with a sense of satisfaction. But I read through your posts and I'm enjoying thinking back on what I liked and analyzing what the author was doing.