I feel like at the end of every year, there is a pretty strong general trend to the fiction I’ve read. Last year it was African-American (lots of slavery stories). Previous years WWII stands out. This year, I’m already calling it. It’s the year of the refugee novel. Fitting, huh?
Exit West has been getting a TON of hype. I requested it from my library and was surprised to see that it had a “Romance” sticker on its spine. Strange to think of it alongside your friendly bodice-ripper. It’s a romance, sure, in the way that any story involving a man and a woman who date is a romance. Really though it’s the story of a coming war, then devastation, followed by a way OUT. Saeed and Nadia fall in love as their nameless city gets closer and closer to civil war. When the war finally reaches their doors, they decide to escape. To leave everything they have and everyone they love and search for a future as refugees. It’s a love story in that you follow their relationship, as it adjust and bends in its new form. But really it’s more about leaving, arriving, struggling to find where you fit in a different land. 4.5 stars
Watch out, people, I read a non-fiction book. And I read it all! I didn’t skip or skim or just look at the pictures (there are none). This was an excellent story that pretty much seems like something you’d find in the middle of the fiction shelves. True story of Christopher Knight who, at the ripe old age of 20, drove as far as he could into the woods of Maine, abandoned his car and stayed for the next 27 years. His campsite, by description, was elaborate in its function and sparseness and pure functionality. Completely hidden although only 3 or so miles from civilization. In all of those 27 years, he did not have a single human interaction (except maybe 2, where he spotted another person and hid, spotted another person and waved but uttered no words). In all of those 27 years, he guesses he committed over 1000 burglaries. He only stole what he needed – batteries, food, propane, clothing, books (a necessity, duh) – and always left each residence clean and put together (he robbed and – the same 150ish houses). Finally apprehended and arrested for theft, he found himself in jail and also in an awkward friendship with a journalist, Michael Finkel. Really interesting story, plus really interesting information about how other cultures do “hermits” and what it means to really live alone. 4.5 stars