„THE GIFT“ by Cecelia Ahern

the gift

The book „The Gift“ by Cecelia Ahern is probably one of the most stunning and at the same time poignant and thought-provoking novels I have ever read.

SPOILER ALERT … don’t go on reading if you don’t want to know details

The plot is all about a husband, called Lou Sufferns, who is absolutely busy and actually kind of a work-aholic. He believes that his work is everything that counts and he wants to get better all the time. That is to say, he usually starts work about one hour early so that he is way ahead of all the other business men. Working is literally his passion which leads him to forget that he has got a wife and two little toddlers which he barely even knows. Frankly, he burns the candle at both ends and neglects his family. What is more, he is used to cheating on his wife after or even whilst work. In addition, he also doesn‘t want to occupy himself about the 70th birthday of his father. He lets everything be organised and done by his secretary as he apparently doesn‘t want to dig into family stuff.

 

However, one day, the self-interested Lou meets a beggar called Gabriel who randomly starts a conversation with Lou. Lou kind of feels connected to this guy and wants to help him out of the soup. So, he first offers him a coffee to protect him from the cold, and then he offers him a job. This gesture indicates that Lou, though being naughty and egoistic, still has a heart that cares for others. Well, Gabriel on the other hand is no normal guy. He is really special. Hence, he gives Lou a gift: the opportunity to be in several places at the same time. At first, Lou uses this new ability to attend even more meetings than before. But by the time he also uses this to spend time with his family. Little by little, he then realises what a wonderful family he has. He finally gets that he has a beautiful wife and two both amazing and quite cute children. So in time for Christmas, Lou changes his mind and decides to spend more time with his lovely family. But what lesson would that be without a catch?

 

Thus, one evening Lou just wants to get home as quickly as possible as he wants to see his family so eagerly. Unfortunately, temperatures are pretty low and the streets are frozen. So, when he turns zestfully into a bend, his car deviates from the road. The vehicle overturns several times and is completely damaged. Lou Suffern is dead. But he has got one more chance: right before he passes away forever, he doubles one last time in order to tell his family how much he loves them, no matter what will happen, no matter where he will be, no matter whatsoever, he will always be there for them.

 

In conclusion, I guess there are not many words left to say. This story clearly shows us how important it is to spend time with people we do love, people that matter. Doing things that make us happy are important and we should take every yet so little opportunity to make memories, to make new experiences, to go on adventures. We only live once and we do not know when life will be over. So, let’s just try to live every day as if it was our last.

N.B.

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The help by Kathryn Stockett

IMG_1176You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

Segregation and racial discrimination used to be a huge bad sides of the US in the past and to be honest, the haven’t been successful solving this problem till today.

 

The book is set in 1962. The Civil Rights Movement of Martin L. King is in full swing. Previously Rosa Parks started the Bus Boykott. Now the March on Washington (1963) is close as well as the attack on J. F. Kennedy in Dallas.

In between this tense mood one of the maids living in Jackson, Alabama is telling her story. Her name is Aibileen. She has worked her entire life for white people as a house maid.

Skeeter (Eugenia Phelan) is a white woman, who had studied in New York and now returns to the south. After her arrival she realises, her family has a different maid. When she asks anybody after her loved nanny Constantine everybody pretends to know anything. When she goes to one of the meetings of the „Junior League“ a club of white upperclass women, living in Jackson, and Hilly one of her old friends tries to push the local racism to a completely new level by planing to make a new law, that makes it mandatory to have a separate toilet for their black house maids she decides to fight against her own society.

The topic of bathrooms leads trough the whole book and there is always something happening, that’s related either to toilets, poo or pee. This breaks the sad reality of the black people and makes the reader lough.

 

The language is really easy, but you have to read precisely, because the (uneducated) maid tend to have a horrible grammar, because the kinda had no opportunities to go to school. Because of this you might have to read some sentences twice or even three times.

In my opinion the book is a gerat choice if you want to know a little more about this dark chapter of American history. Aibileen would clearly be one of the bravest persons I have ever heard of, if she really existed (maybe there is a living template out there, because the author comes out of Mississippi). And the other characters serve there purpose wonderfully. You instinctively know wether to like or dislike them.

Johannes

The rest of us just live here by Patrick Ness

IMG_1165They’ve always got some story going on that they’re heroes of. The rest of us just have to life here, hovering around the edges, left out of it all, for the most part.

Imagine your friends and you are graduating from high school, but the world around you gets totally mixed up.

This is the general situation, Michael and his sister Mel, friends Henna and Jared have to face. The book takes place in a fictitious world of vampires, immortals and „Chosen Ones“. You might think this book could be boring, because of this, but it’s unlike similar books, because you don’t read the story of a vampire or an other supernatural creature, but of normal people, living a normal life in such a world where things happen they can’t neither understand nor the have influence on.

 

In the beginning you already kinda get the idea, there is something coming up. Indie Kids are dying and get hunted by mysterious clouds. Then all of a sudden there are creepy blue eyes, that seem to come out of nowhere.

Besides these supernatural problems our main characters have to face „normal“ problems, like making up plans what to do after graduation or private problems in our families.

In my opinion this is really a strength of the book to tell this fantastic story of growing up, graduating, finding your role in society and the immense power of friendship without getting corny.

 

The language is really good to handle. Even if you are going to „zweijährige Berufsfachschule“ you shouldn’t have problems reading and understanding the book.

 

To conclude my review on the book, I think it is absolutely worth reading it. The story is well made up and the characters are totally amiable. The idea of writing a fantasy novel from a different point of view is absolutely stunning. And the most exciting thing of the book itself: it glows in the dark. If this argument isn’t convincing you, I don’t know whats wrong…

 

Johannes

„The Danish Girl“ by David Ebershoff

Greta and Einar’s (later Lili) story is one about true love, identity and finding yourself.
Right in the beginning it becomes clear that their love is extraordinary, seeing as it isn’t at all a physical one and still immediately feels more insistent and somehow deeper.
This is primarily made apparent through Greta who in the beginning wrote endless letters to Einar even though he never responded.
Once they do get married Greta fully supports Einar without question, following his lead when choosing the right doctors and even choosing between Einar and Lili.
Lili’s journey begins when Greta convinces Einar to put on a dress in order to finish a painting on time.

While the book is inspired by the real 1930’s Lili Elbe the story isn’t just historical and factual but instead is built around Lili’s transition and how it influenced her life and that of the people around her, especially Greta, who found her inspiration and success through Lili who was visualized plentiful in Greta’s paintings.

– Chiara, Ute, Julia

„Don’t Feed the Trolls“ by Erica Kudisch

This book was a very unique read and to a non-gamer a slightly complicated one as well considering all the gaming language you have to get used to first.

The main storyline focuses on how horribly girls are treated in the online gaming world and shows just how hard it can be to fight back. While that is fascinating it also, more or less silently, deals with gender issues and how they link into sexuality but are completely different.
The story is told by Daphne (later Daphnis) who wins a competition hosted by a huge online gaming company which involves not only fame (somewhat) but also a trip to GeeKon and that’s how the story begins because that’s when all the hate begins. Though Daphnis doesn’t have to navigate that all by themselves, on- and offline they have a very diverse support system beginning with, but not limited to, their two roommates, one being a drag queen and the other being a famous fanfiction writer, who also bring some interesting and educating but mostly heartfelt moments into the story.

-Ute

The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.

The perks of being a Wallflower was written by Stephen Chbosky in 1999. The story is told by letters Charlie sends to “dear friend”

The story plays between 1991 and 1992 and is all about Charlie’s first year of High School. So it seems to be a typical teenager love story, but it isn’t.

Charlie hasn’t got any friends since his best (and only) friend Michael shot himself last spring. But missing friends is not the only problem he suffers from. There is something special about his family.

Soon he develops a really good relationship to Mr. Anderson, his English teacher and he gets to know Sam and Patrick. They are stepbrother and stepsister and introduce him to their peer group. Now he finds new friends and gets introduced to many new things like sex and drugs.

The book has many amazing parts and lots of good quotes. It is really fun to read, because Charlie really can see the small things of life, that are macing him happy. One example is when he is telling about his day and he describes really detailed that he mowed the lawn and stuff like that.

When you read the book you should really listen to the songs he mentions in his letters, provide the extra portion of understanding for his situations and they fit rally well.

The language the book is written in should not be a problem for you or your siblings.

As you may have recognized, I really like the book. In fact it is one of my favourite books. I really like the way the story is told and the way Charlie describes everything. There is a movie that is really good too, but I think it is definitely worth reading the book first, because there are some beautiful scenes missing.

Johannes

All the bright places

by Jennifer Niven

„Do you know my life is forever changed now? I used to think that was true because you came into it and showed me Indiana and, in doing that, forced me out of my room and into the world. Even when we weren’t wandering, even from the floor of your closet, you showed the world to me. I didn’t know that my life forever changing would be because you loved me and then left…“ (Violet, page 353)

IMG_0410They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower. He wants to take his own life. She is devastated by her sister’s death. Theodore Finch and Violet Markey. Together they experience something new. Something „ultraviolet remarkey-able“ like Finch would say.

It’s an emotional book, which might entice you some tears but even make you laugh. I like the book because you feel with the characters.

You will feel the strength of Violet and the humour of Finch. Two completely different lives become one. And you will notice how much they need each other. Even if one of them is missing.

L.H.