By Angie Seth @kateygoalie
As a journalist reading is my passion. I often look for books that give a good escape from the realities of the daily news stories I am covering and keeping a close eye on. So to be asked to read and review a book is like leaving me alone in a chocolate factory … I am in heaven!
“I live in between. Between what if and what is. It’s how I manage. It’s the only way I know. Everyone has their way. This is mine.”
These are the first words that introduce you to the first chapter of what I would like to call a very brave book. Swimming Through Clouds” takes its reader on a difficult journey involving a young girl, Talia, who is a victim of horrific violence at the hands of her father. The book describes several incidences in which Talia’s Mother is brutally abused by her Father for “living like a normal person”. The level of male dominance by his character is very frustrating and frightening.
Yet despite the harsh words on the pages of this book, as you continue to read on, as you feel Talia’s pain, you also feel her strength to have a better tomorrow and hopefully freedom from her terrible life at home. Enter the romantic interest in the book, Lagan. Lagan represents Talia’s escape. Their romantic journey together keeps the reader wanting more without feeling an overwhelming sense of “sappiness” or “nauseating teenage love”. Their communication through the use of post it notes re-defines the sticky note. It is much more than just a reminder.
This is a book about a teenage girl who survives the painful loss of her mother, falls victim to abuse at the hands of her father, and is the princess in the eye of a male classmate who is willing to go to the end of the earth to protect her.
The author, Rajdeep Paulus, or Raj as she likes to be referred to, is a very intelligent and gentle writer. In a very smart way she introduces the characters in this book with a grace and dignity. Even the father in the book – the violent monster – is given due justice in how he is portrayed. In addition, in a subtle way, Raj, lets the reader know that the characters come from Indian backgrounds without stereotyping the cast. As someone of Indian descent, I appreciate that.
The book can be a fairly fast read, although I found at times I needed to re-read certain paragraphs. This is no knock against the writer but rather a compliment to her brilliance of being able to write between the lines, forcing the reader to read in-between the lines. The characters in this book are complicated, yet very simple at times. I developed a certain relationship with Talia and her Mother – almost being able to relate and understand what they went through. You love them and want to save them.
Raj gives you a sense of that satisfaction at the end of the book. In my opinion the ending to Swimming Through Clouds is what you want it to be. You question what is real and what is considered Talia’s dream as she, herself, is swimming through clouds. But that does not take away from what the reader is hoping for at the end. The only thing I would ask of the author, is to add and epilogue to the epilogue. You fall in love with Talia, you just need a little bit more at the end. In my opinion the purpose of this incredible story is to raise awareness about violence against women.
However harsh some of the pages in the book may seem it represents the true realities in some households around the world. Violence, verbal, and mental abuse are not acceptable. The author, in a very creative way outlines this reality. This book should be read by everyone … men and women, the young and the old. It is a universal reader. Overall I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. Well done!
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