Atonement by Ian McEwan

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1935, Summer. Briony Tallis, thirteen years old, wants to become a writer; at the present she has devised a theatre piece she wants to put on the scene with the help of her evacuees cousins, but she feels she is able to understand the full spectrum of human emotions and behaviours.

This arrogance will bring her in misinterpreting the events she observes: her big sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner – the son of their housekeeper – understand they are attracted and maybe in love, but of this relation Briony sees only Robbie’s desire, and labels him as a maniac.

From Briony’s conviction a true drama will derive, and Briony’s certainty will cause an irreparable injustice and the breakage of family relations. Growing up Briony will understand the error and the truth of what really happened, but it’ll be impossible to go back in time, and Briony is left with her desire to atone her faults.

The first part of the novel is set during the summer of 1935, and it’s climax is the accusation that Briony moves against Robbie. The chapter follow various point of views: Briony, her sister Cecilia, their mother, Robbie, Briony’s cousin. The second part of the novel is set during WWII, and the main protagonist is Robbie in France, retreating towards the English lines, in the meanwhile Briony is learning to be a nurse.

The last part is set in the modern times, and the main character is an old Briony, now a successful writer. In this part we understand we are dealing with a meta-novel, and that McEwan is talking about the Tallis family, but he wants also to talk about the role of the writer and writing, that can change what exists and leave a different memory on the paper.

This consideration is certainly valid, but I’m still uncertain about how much I liked this novel. The plot twist at the end is clever, but I detested Briony for her arrogance, her conviction to understand as a child, and her arrogance in the adulthood in believing she did what she could in atoning her sins as writer-goddess.


* Atonement by Ian McEwan ★★★☆☆

*I read this book in english

[ARC] The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

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The story begins in an interrogation room: on one side two agents from FBI, on the other a girl about twenty and in the background reference to hospital, survivors, other girls.

The girl is asked to give some explanation, and so she begins her story and the story of the butterfly garden. Butterflies that are girls, kidnapped and tattooed to have their back resemble butterflies wings, forced to live in a beautiful prison.

The girl – Maya, this is the name given by her captor – talks about the life in the garden, but also about her past life, and the two agents slowly enter in the daily horror of these collected butterflies.

With Maya’s tale the novel is enriched by other new characters – like the other butterflies – every one with a peculiar trait.

The butterfly garden is a book able to catch the reader attention, despite the horror it contains, and it’s hard to leave Maya’s story, because, like the FBI we want to understand what’s happened and how we got to the interrogation room.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison ★★☆☆☆

*I read this book in english

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

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Carly is a university drop out and now she works in a dine as a cook, only nigh turns because she needs to surf in the morning. Surfing is the only activity that helps her forgetting what happened before university.

Carly is living in a limbo, but she will be able to overcome her issues thanks to the relation with Ryan – a surfer recently out of jail – and the friendship with Daniel, a boy who has synesthesia.

By the same author I recently read Summer Skin, one of the few new adult book that I liked, and this brought me to this novel. I think Raw blue is less engaging than Summer Skin because it is a lot about surfing (something I don’t do and don’t know about), and it provides a lot of details about this sport that did not catch my interest.

Taking the full novel into consideration – and not only the surf detail – it is a good one, interesting and able to deal with complex theme without solving every issue with a love relationship: Carly gets better also thanks to her new friends (Danny, her new neighbour).


Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar ★★★☆☆

*I read this book in english

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

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Emma O’Donovan is a girl nobody would have as a friend: beautiful, jealous of her friends wealth, puppeteer and always loves to be the center of attention.

It’s the eighteen years old summer for Emma and her friends, and so parties, booze, the anticipation for the last school year and the expectation for what will come next in their future.

One morning, after a party, Emma wakes up on her family’s doorstep, she does not remember anything about the previous night and her friends try to avoid her. Soon Emma discovers the reasons behind their behaviours when she sees some photos of the previous day where she seems unconscious while having sex with some guys of her school.

Was this rape? Emma firstly declares she was aware and consenting, then she withdraw it – she actually does not rememeber, and the psychological weight of the situation begins to kick in. Emma was somewhat an easy girl: everybody know she was used to have sex never with the same guy, that she liked to be admired and she used to wear short skirts and low necked clothes. So the conclusion is that she was asking for it: she should have dressed in another way, beheaved in another way and then nothing would have happenend to her.

Louise O’Neill in Asking For It (#notaskingforit) focus the novel in the neverending debate seed: in a rape who is to blame? The blame changes if the victim wore a miniskirt or a dress? (Because there are instincts, it was practilly an invitation). The skill in dealing this topic stays in depicting a negative main character like Emma, because this way it’s harder to choose sides, and putting around her some apparently good friends (but a good friends is a friend in need, and nobody would like to have as friends Emma’s ones), and then abruptly changing the parts.

I think the writing sharp, and I appreciate the author choice to face difficult story, like she did in Only Ever Yours.

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* Asking For It by Louise O’Neill ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English

To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee

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“To kill a mockingbird” is the memory of Scout’s childhood in Alabama; the beginning of school, the days spent playing with Jem and the friend Dill and the kind and reassuring presence of Atticus, her father.
These are the years when the children try to meet Boo Radley, a neighbor who did not go out his home, and when Atticus has the hard task to defend a Negro man accused of raping a white girl in a racist Alabama.
The events are narrated using Scout point of view, and thanks to her naivety the injustice and the hypocrisy of Maycomb folks are enhanced.
I read it some years ago when I was a child and I liked the story, now I reread it as an adult and I appreciated also its style and narrative structure and I was reminded that

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

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* To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee ★★★★★

*I read this book in Italian
*I read this book in English

To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee

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“Il buio oltre la siepe” è il ricordo di quando Scout era bambina in Alabama; i primi anni di scuola, le giornate passate a giocare con Jem e l’amico Dill e la presenza confortante e benevola del padre Atticus.
Sono gli anni in cui i bambini cercano di incontrare Boo Radley, un vicino che non esce mai di casa e in cui Atticus avrà il difficile compito di difendere un uomo di colore dall’accusa di stupro di una donna bianca in un’Alabama ancora razzista.
Gli eventi sono narrati dal punto di vista di Scout, e grazie alla sua ingenuità saranno ancora più manifesti l’ingiustizia e l’ipocrisia degli adulti della cittadina.
L’avevo letto molti anni fa con gli occhi della bambina che ero e mi aveva colpito la storia, rileggendolo da adulta mi hanno colpito anche lo stile e la struttura e mi è stato ricordato che

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

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* Il buio oltre la siepe by Harper Lee ★★★★★

*Ho letto questo libro in Italiano
*Ho letto questo libro in Inglese

The round house by Lousie Eldrich

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This book is set in 1988, but the tangle of laws that hinder prosecution of rape cases on many reservations still exists. “Maze of Injustice,” a 2009 report by Amnesty International, included the following statistics: 1 in 3 Native women will be raped in her lifetime (and that figure is certainly higher as Native women often do not report rape); 86 percent of rapes and sexual assaults upon Native women are perpetrated by non-Native men; few are prosecuted.

The novel “The round house“, set in Nord Dakota and near a native americans reservation, begins talking about a tragic theme: the rape of native women.

The main character’s mother undergoes a sexual assault, the shock of the experience makes hard the reconstruction and the woman will close herself up trying to overcome the tragic memory.

Her husband, a judge, and her son Joe will try to find out the culprit in order to have justice.

The theme is interesting as the setting within a less known reality – the native americans one – the novel describes a different way of living and various characters.

The thing I did not like is the writing style: everything is filtered by Joe’s POV – dialogues included – and the reading experience was somewhat burdened by this. Another aspect I did not find completely believable is the way of acting of the main character, some actions were quite extreme considering his age, but maybe this is not due to my lack of knowledge about the context.

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* The round house by Louise Eldrich ★★☆☆☆

*I read this book in English