Tags: Aberrations, Alan Drew, Andrew Davidson, birthday, blogging year in review, C.W. Gortner, David Fuller, Gardens of Water, lauren groff, Love is a Mix Tape, Margaret George, Patrick McGrath, Penelope Przekop, Rob Sheffield, Songs for the Missing, Stewart O'Nan, Sweetsmoke, The Autobiography of Henry VIII, The Gargoyle, The Last Queen, The Monsters of Templeton, Trauma
Well, the day has finally arrived and I can no longer say that I am 36. Well, I was born at around 9:50pm, so I could wait to say I’m 37 until tonight, but that’s being a little ridiculous (although if you agree with the whole date and time thing, you’ll make me exceedingly happy right up until 9:49pm).
Seriously, 36 was a wonderful year. I feel that I’ve come into my own in my career and as a book blogger. I have read 70 books since my last birthday and have reviewed 64. It would be hard for me to pick out a favorite from during that time, but the books that have stood out in my 37th year are The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, Gardens of Water by Alan Drew, The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner, The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George, The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman, Trauma by Patrick McGrath, Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan, Aberrations by Penelope Przekop, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, and Sweetsmoke by David Fuller.
The best blogging experience I had personally revolved around Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. I bought this book for my husband, but read it first. Little did either of us know that this would have a personal connection for my husband. He was friends with Rob’s wife Renee. We had a great time going through his pictures from that era and we posted one of Renee. It always irritates me when there is no pictures in memoirs because I want to know what the people look like. In this case, Danny was able to supply that for me. It was also really neat to listen to the tape of his band singing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song to the tune of R.E.M.’s Talk about the Passion. That whole experience was wonderful.
Best of all, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people last year. From authors, to publicists, to my fellow book bloggers, to my readers. I won’t name any because I don’t want to leave anyone out. My life is richer because of you all.
I hope that everyone has a beautiful, beautiful day!
Tags: Alan Drew, American involvement in Turkey, American relief work, Christianity, Early Reviewers snag, earthquake, family name, Gardens of Water, honor killing, Istanbul, Kurds, Middle Eastern culture, Muslim, rights of women in the Middle East, Turkey, young love
Gardens of Water tells the story of how the lives of a working class, conservative Muslim family from outside of Istanbul were impacted by the horrible earthquake of 1999. Sinan Basioglu, a hard-working man with a club foot, tries to do his best by his family and keep close to his God. Circumstances force them to take shelter in a relief camp established by Christian Americans. This time spent at the camp is most especially confusing to İrem, Sinan and Nilüfer’s 15-year-old daughter. Living in the camp provides her with a freedom she hasn’t known since her early childhood. When she falls in love with Dylan, the teenage son of an American expatriate teacher, the entire Basioglu family is caused to question who they are and what is expected from them.
It’s interesting to me how there are times when two or three books I read in a row carry a similar thread. Gardens of Water, although it takes place in the Middle East, continued my thoughts on the plight of women in society. In The Tea Rose, Fiona struggled against the prevailing prejudice that women are not capable to and should not run businesses. The female characters in The Witch’s Trinity were accused of witchcraft when life became hard because of the Judeo-Christian prejudices against them that began with Eve’s first bite of that apple in the Garden of Eden. For a Muslim girl like İrem, a simple school girl crush could threaten to ruin her family name and negatively impact her younger brother’s future. For many women, life is not all that more safe today than it was back in the time of the witch trials.
Alan Drew’s debut novel is rich in its details about life in Turkey and about what it feels like and means to be Muslim. I found this especially true in his descriptions of the scenery. I felt like I saw Istanbul from a distance and could feel the water over my toes. The scene where Sinan was carrying televisions on his back as he tried to hustle through the streets of Instanbul was probably my favorite. Not only did I feel Sinan’s desperation, I felt his isolation as a Kurd in Turkish society. If you are interested in Kurdish culture, the family life of modern conservative Muslims, or are just looking for an involving book to read, I strongly suggest Gardens of Water.
To buy this novel, click here.