Monday, August 19, 2013

Book 13: Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

Daughter of Fortune was one of the most heartbreaking books I have read in a very long time. The story of Eliza Sommers' quest to find her beloved Joaquin Andieta in the California gold rush is beautifully written & a timeless exploration of how love can make us do stupid, even dangerous things.

The novel is written in a beautiful lyrical style that I absolutely loved. It blends the story of Eliza with that of her adopted caretaker Rose Sommers, in a way that transcends time. Rose is swept up in a passionate affair in her youth with an dashing opera singer much the same way that Eliza becomes infatuated with Joaquin. Both women are overcome by lust in their youth only to realize the more important things in life later on.

Eliza's travel companion and smuggler, Tao Chi'en serves as an interesting balance for her. He is stable and reliable, though his heart is broken too. When her wild passion for Joaquin finally runs out and she gives up the chase, Tao is there by her side.

I found this story so moving and uplifting. Eliza, for having searched for Joaquin for years and gone through horrid conditions just to find him, ends up being stronger and more independent by the end of the book than any other female character I can think of. The last thing she says in the novel says it all: "I am free." After everything she has been through, and after all the time she has spent chasing this madness called love, this is how she describes herself in the end. It is a poignant ending for a beautifully written book.

I loved this book. I will read it again and will recommend it to anyone who asks.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Book 12: Dreams From my Father by Barack Obama

It took me about 2 months to read Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, mostly because I got distracted & began to read other things around the time when I reached the halfway point.

The book lost my interest during the lengthy description of Obama's time as a community organizer in Chicago. I admired his drive & passion for the issues he was fighting for, but reading about the specifics didn't do it for me.

Once I was able to get back into it, I was able to finish reading it rather quickly. Overall, the writing was very good & I enjoyed the story of his early life. I liked this book because it wasn't overly political, it focused more on family and Obama's personal history, which I found quite interesting.

Regardless of your politics, it is an important book to read because there is a lot to learn from any President, especially one who has overcome historic hurdles in order to get there. It's an exciting glimpse into history, written before anyone knew what was coming.