Monday, June 11, 2012

On the Outside Looking Indian: How My Second Childhood Changed My Life by Rupinder Gill

On the Outside Looking Indian: How My Second Childhood Changed My Life. Rupinder Gill.  Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated. 2012. 288 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9781594485770.

Welcome to the world of an Indian-American family whose values center on hard work, housekeeping at home and in one's career job after childhood.  It's a world where parents are selfless and totally dedicated to children but it's a very narrow world.  Rupinder humorously describes her world which sounds like a litany of "what i want" followed by multiple negative responses.  So no movies, no sleep-overs, no mall trips, no long empty telephone conversations, etc., etc.  But Rupinder has a novel point of view!  She lies when she has to and she sets her heart on making a list of what she will do when she finally gets the chance!

What follows is a funny description of all the things she finally gets to do in her early thirties.  Tennis and swimming are disastrous at first attempts but on she forges.  No, she doesn't wind up in the Olympic USA team for either sport, but she keeps at it until she reaches a level of success that she's content with.  How about having a dog; seeing the "bleep storm" from her friend's dog makes her realize that it's not all roses in achieving one's desires.  The same goes for her dream of going to New York, a risk she takes by quitting her job in Canada.  Dancing, Disney World and so many more dreams come true - finally!

Without being moralistic, Rupinder realizes many things during her new "play" and "make your dream come true" times.  Does she reject them?  Not at all!  What she does realize is that they aren't 100% joy, there's something one learns in each, and they all evoke memories of her own childhood that take on a new element of preciousness now that those years are far from her present.

On the Outside Looking Indian is a simple yet potent story about coming of age from a different cultural point of view.  It's funny and frustrating earlier as the memories flow but there's a breakthrough where everything achieves an amazing perspective. Rupinder has become what she wants and is better at it because she knows who she is!  Uniquely written!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

How Angels Die by David-Michael Harding

How Angels Die. David-Michael Harding. Q&CY Books. 2011. 420 pages. ISBN #: 9780615503325.

Monique and Claire, as well as her parents Sean and Estelle, are living in France during the Nazi occupancy of WWII.  They appear to be a very divided family at the beginning of this story that depicts a side of the Resistance Movement that is almost never fully explained.  Monique cares for the abandoned orphans of the war and meets German soldiers in the evening to dine and dance and more, the more enabling her to gather secret information unavailable by any other means, a job drawing extreme criticism from her sister and father.  Claire, however, has her own job to do, one that shows her to be as brave as any soldier, one which she embraces with so much fervor that the reader wonders from where this ferocity arises.

Another family gives a different point of view of countless thousands who loved and died at the hands of the Nazi rapers and killers, but the question is who died and who lived?  Anyone associated with Nazi targets is doomed.  The risk or stakes are enormous beyond one's comprehension, yet the hatred of those blighting France with their presence takes on many forms of expression, some out of fear, some from revenge, and some out of tragedy-induced realization of one's undying patriotism!

To say more would ruin a phenomenal story very much on par with a Ken Follett, Frederick Forsythe, and other masters of espionage fiction.  The tension hypes up to a fever pitch when Monique falls in love with one of her German "friends" and discovers details twice about pivotal German movements and shipment of arms.  However, Pieter suspects her awareness and resistance role; these realizations build the plot to a crescendo with devastating but eventually healing consequences.  Many more amazing secrets are yet to be revealed!

How Angels Die is not just another WWII story; it's about how individuals and united groups will give all they are to a common cause out of pure love.  It isn't a fantasy tale or contrived story at all; it's a well-research realistic viewpoint celebrating the cost of ensuring evil will NOT prevail in history's unfortunately too frequent travesties of justice and fair treatment!  Awesome, amazing, and deserving of best-seller status!!!