Book Review: The Opposite of Fate, by Alison McGhee

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This week, I read the book The Opposite of Fate, by Alison McGhee for the 2020 reading challenge that I am participating in. This is the second book that I am reading for the reading challenge. The first was The Beekeeper of Aleppo, by Christy Lefteri, and you can find the review here.

Title: The Opposite of Fate

Author: Alison McGhee

Star Rating: 4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I give this book 4 stars out of a possible 5 stars. It has an excellent premise with good character development. However, I felt that the reading was a bit slow and at times a bit boring, as well as a bit rough in some parts.

What It’s About

The Opposite of Fate starts out nice and slow, which is fitting considering that the central character has just woken up from a coma. The character’s name is Mallie. She wakes up to find that nearly her entire support network has disintegrated during the 18 months that she was “sleeping.” The only person who is at the hospital, waiting for her to wake up, is an older friend and father figure, William T. Her mother had died of cancer, her long term boyfriend had left to start over in another state, and her younger brother had left for college.

Mallie wakes up from her coma, completely unaware of the events that had transpired. When she finds out that she had had a baby while she was comatose, she leaves her town with nothing more than an old car, her cell phone, and a box filled with newspaper clippings and old memories. She heads for another city in another state. She heads for the one person who once cared about her and was her rock.

While this journey takes place, the people around her struggle to make sense with and overcome the events that have transpired. The first is William T, who advocated for terminating the pregnancy, as it was a reminder of the night that Mallie was attacked, raped, and left for dead. The second is her younger brother, Charlie, who left for college to try to escape what happened as he still blames himself for the incident. The third is her boyfriend Zach, who stayed through the end of the pregnancy, but then left without any explanation. The fourth is the perpetrator of the rape, who has been tormented by guilt of what happened that night and still hasn’t told anyone, not even his mother and his baby sister, what happened.

The book is primarily told from the point of views of Mallie and William T. One character is completely in the dark, having no idea what happened since the night of the incident. The other character knows what happened after, but then is taken for a surprise with a shocking revelation at the end of the book. Intricately weaving their stories back and forth, the book slowly reveals what happened since and most importantly how all the characters are dealing with the aftermath of the situation.

Why You Should Read

The Opposite of Fate is an analysis of what happens after a traumatic event such as a rape. Who gets to decide what happens to the pregnancy, particularly when the woman literally has no say? In that case, who has the right to say what should happen? Should the pregnancy be terminated, because it was a result of such a violent act? Or should they let the fetus grow inside the comatose woman, because it is a potential person? Whatever they ultimately decide, this book is about choices.

This book examines the ramification of choice and what happens when society takes that from you. In the book, Mallie had her right to decide what she wanted to do with the pregnancy revoked. There was a huge debate all across her city, and even the nation, as people from her mom to her father figure fought against each other, as both had differing opinions on how the pregnancy should be dealt with. The choice was taken from Mallie. Later, she has to learn to deal with the consequences of a choice that she never made.

Along the way of Mallie’s cross county journey to her old boyfriend Zach, she starts to adjust and accept the consequences of that choice. One important theme that this book highlights is that no matter what bad thing happens that is out of our control we must learn to live with it. We must fight the bad, and the darkness, by being bigger than it.

The darkness that haunts Mallie is what happened during the night of the incident. Indeed, Mallie refers to the perpetrator of the rape as Darkness. There is not a lot of detail as to what happened and why, but that is fitting, because this book is more about the consequences of a bad choice and not the actual event itself. Mallie imagines Darkness to be a normal man who is tormented by the incident, constantly questioning whether he should turn himself in. I like that Darkness is portrayed as an average, everyday man, showing that good people can make bad choices.

People make choices everyday, some good and some bad. Another theme that this book examines is that children are certainly affected by the choices that adults make, but they are not their parents. This is particularly relevant in the case of Mallie and her younger brother, whose Mom joins a cult-like church and from then on starts to be heavily influenced by the church. It is also relevant in Mallie’s unborn child, who was conceived out of rape and violence. If the pregnancy is allowed to proceed, would it be just like the biological father? Or, would it be able to rise above that, creating good from evil?

Influences are central in this book, particularly by those who may share none of our blood. This book examines that you don’t have to have the same blood to love someone. This is true in William T., who has looked after Mallie and her brother as his own kids even though he isn’t their biological father. This is also true in William T’s love for his wife or Mallie’s love for her boyfriend. But whether we share the same blood or not, we must create a strong support network in order to heal, grow, and eventually thrive.

Overall, this is a solid book about not just the choices that we make, but how these choices affect us, the wider community, and ultimately how we must live with these choices. It is a book about pain, loss, and ultimately finding the courage to heal. It is how we deal with the choices that are made that determines who we really are.

(Click on the book above to get your own copy of this book today!)

What book are you currently reading? I just may add it to my TBR list!

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13 Tweet Ideas You Can Use on Twitter

One thing that I love about Twitter is that the written word reigns supreme. On Twitter, the story is told through concise messaging. Though the tweet is occasionally sprinkled with images and GIFS, the words are primarily the vehicle of the tweet. Using the right words with a little extra is essential for getting good engagement and establishing a strong community.

But sometimes, it can be hard to think of things to write about. In this post, you can find 13 tweet ideas that you can use on Twitter. Of course, the ideas found in this post is not all-inclusive. Feel free to expand upon the idea and add a little bit of flair and a little of you into it. After all, the most successful social media campaigns are ones that are planned, engaged, and most importantly, authentic.

13 Tweet Ideas You Can Use On Twitter

1–Tell us what you are most passionate about.

2–Ask a ‘Would you rather….?’ question.

3–Tell us what you are eating for dinner.

4–Ask a ‘This or That?’ question.

5–Tell us what your hobby is.

6–Ask a ‘What are your plans?’ question.

7–Tell us what your biggest pet peeve is.

8–Ask a “Why?” question.

9–Tell us what your hopes and dreams are.

10–Ask a “Yes or No” question.

11–Tell us what you are working on.

12–Ask us a “What do you predict…?” question.

13–Tell us one random personal detail about you.

Similar to any two-way communication, using Twitter is a bit like give and take. You should give and receive information from the audience. They learn about you, and you learn about them. Craft tweet messages to help show the best possible, authentic version of your personal brand. Craft messages to show who or what your brand is. At the same time, always be willing to give the same courtesy back.

What would you add to this list?

Why I Chose to Vote by Mail in the 2020 Election

Why I Chose to Vote by Mail in the 2020 Election

Two weeks ago, I voted. I voted sitting at home comfortably in my PJs. I’ve never voted in my PJs before. But I’ve also never voted in the year 2020 before either.

If there’s one thing that this pandemic has taught me is that there is so much that we can do at home. We can work and go to school from home. We can have food be brought to our doorsteps from home. We can exercise and play at home. We can also vote from home.

I’m not gonna lie. It was nice to get a ballot sent directly to my doorstep. All I had to do was open it, fill it out, and then stuff it back in the envelope. I didn’t have to go to a busy voting location. I didn’t have to wait for an hour or more just to vote. I didn’t have to stand in uncomfortable street clothes while trying to figure out which candidate would be the best person for the job. I was able to just sit at home, vote, and, most importantly, I didn’t have to wear a mask.

Since I don’t have to wear a mask at home, I feel safer at home. So, why should I drive myself to a voting location twenty to thirty minutes away just to vote? Also, I didn’t feel comfortable standing in line, even with a mask on. I wanted to limit the number of places that I have to go. So, I chose to vote at home because it felt safer to me. I didn’t have to go out and potentially expose myself to the virus.

Now that I’ve voted, I feel good. The news is still overly saturated with the election, but now that I’ve voted, I don’t have to worry about it. It’s the same feeling that I used to get after I’ve studied and felt prepared to take a test the next day. It’s that feeling of having done everything I could and now I just have to sit back and let nature take its course.

I have a few weeks until the election results. Until then, I’m just going to sit back and do my best to tune out the news. What will happen will happen and I’ll worry about it then.

What do you think about voting-by-mail?

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Nanowrimo in the Year 2020

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Nanowrimo in the Year 2020

Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. During the month of November, participants from every town, city, and country come together to write a 50,000 word novel. It probably sounds like an impossible task, to write a full length novel in just thirty days. But for those in the know, it is only 1667 words a day, or about 3-4 pages, depending on the font and margins. It is hard, certainly not easy, but definitely not impossible. Sometimes the things that seem nearly impossible are the ones worth doing.

Whether you know for a certainty that you are going to do Nanowrimo, or whether you are still debating, straddling both sides of the fence, this post is for you. In this article, I will give you three good reasons why you should do Nanowrimo in the year 2020.

1–Join The Writing Community

In the years that I’ve done Nanowrimo, I’ve come to find that the writing community on the Nanowrimo website and Twitter is absolutely phenomenal. Over on the Nanowrimo forums, you can find support both for yourself and your work-in-progress (WIP). You can use the forums to seek help on a plot device that you’re struggling with or to take a short break by playing some word or roleplaying games. But most importantly, I’ve always felt accepted by the community at large.

In addition to the Nanowrimo forums, I’ve also found incredible, vast amounts of support on Twitter, both in November and during the rest of the year. On Twitter, there is a thriving, positive community of writers who are ready to support you by giving advice, answering questions, promoting books, but most of all, having fun. You can access this community by simply using the hashtag #writingcommunity.

2–Unleash Your Creativity

With the busyness of the daily grind of work, sleep and paying bills (not necessarily in that order), it is hard to find the time to devote yourself to the arts. Fortunately in the year 2020, there has clearly been an explosion of creativity by artists, writers, bloggers, vloggers, and more. So let’s continue to champion this creativity by writing a novel in November. Let’s take a break for an hour or two a day and write a couple a thousand words about another world.

It’s no secret that this year has been the strangest yet. We’re definitely not living in the most normal of times at the moment. So, let’s create a new world, a new normal, that we envision for ourselves, our children, and the future. One way that we can do this is by writing. By writing a 50,000 word novel in November, you get either continue to unleash that creativity or release it after keeping it bottled up for so long. What better time to do that in November, the month that writers get to party by having write-ins and celebrating writing as a wonderful medium of creative expression.

3–Write a Best-Selling Novel

Haven’t you ever wanted to see your name on a book? While there’s no guarantee that your Nanowrimo book will turn out to be an international bestselling novel, you won’t know until you try. If your Nanowrimo book turns out to be a horrible, poorly written first draft, then that’s okay. The important thing is that you finished writing a book. Badly written first drafts can be edited and revised again and again to perfection. A badly written first draft can still be a number one bestselling book.

While writing a bestselling book seems kind of farfetched to many of us, it is not impossible. If this year has taught us anything, it is that life is short and that we should embrace every moment. We should take chances. We should take risks. We never know what’s going to happen next.

So go out and do what you’ve always wanted to do. Success comes from trying again and again, and just maybe, you may be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.

No matter what happens, I think that we should all take a leap of faith and try. Go forth and write a novel in November. You will find a dedicated community of writers and you will be able to bring forth that creativity from within you. Go write the best that you can because life is amazing and so are you.

Do you have anything to add to this list?

Go to the Nanowrimo Official Website and sign-up!

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GUEST POST: 3 Reasons Why Air-Fryer Cooking is Obsessively Good

Hi, I’m Jan – the face behind Jan On The Blog. I’m a millennial working mom and aspiring blogger from Melbourne, Australia. Jan On The Blog is a lifestyle blog. It’s a mixed bag with a little bit of everything – like wellness, parenting, food – because variety is the spice of life! Have a read of this post, then please come visit Jan On The Blog and let me know what you think. Thanks Helen for having me over at Crispy Confessions!

3 reasons why air-fryer cooking is obsessively good

Buying an air-fryer was one of the best decisions I made in 2020. I did take my sweet time contemplating about buying one, before I actually did. Mostly because I thought why bother when I already have the oven to get the job done. But several months later, I now use the air-fryer several times a week and it’s my new ‘bestie’ in the kitchen. I almost can’t imagine how I got by without one. Here’s the top 3 reasons why you’ll get obsessed with air-fryer cooking too.

An air-fryer

Air-fryer cooking really is the healthy way to go because you use very little to no oil – it literally cooks with air! I don’t use more than a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or canola spray – compare that to deep frying! Does no oil mean the french fries (or chips as us Aussies call it) won’t be golden?! Don’t fret, air-fryer cooking only cuts out the fat. You’ll still have your fries/ chips glistening golden brown. Same goes for sausage rolls (even without the egg-wash) or chicken nuggets. What’s more, air-fried food has the same great taste and texture, as their deep fried or baked cousins.

French Fries/Chips, Onion Rings, and Fried Chicken


Who has the time to spend ages cooking? As a mom who works full time, I sure don’t. Which is why I’m constantly looking for ways to spend less time in the kitchen. Air-fryer cooking is great because it is quick – much quicker than a conventional oven. This means you can ditch the conventional oven for most everyday meals. I only end up using it now for baking cakes and large dishes like lasagne or pizza. The air-fryer saves you time because you don’t need to pre-heat, and with the heat is concentrated within a smaller space, food cooks faster. That’s why it’s a great way to re-heat leftovers or pre-cooked food too. It only takes a few seconds in the air-fryer and you won’t get any of the soggy mess that the microwave sometimes serves, e.g. with pizza or sausage rolls.

The other thing that takes the fun out of cooking is the cleaning (unless you like it, then good on you!). Air-fryer cooking is a winner there too because only the pan inside it is involved. While cooking, you can simply simply shake the air-fryer pan to mix food (or use tongs). Saving you any spills or splats on the cooker or oven, or extra pots and pans to clean up.


The other biggest hesitance I had for buying an air-fryer was the cost-factor. You’ll find that the premium brands and models of air-fryers can cost up to A$700 (US$500) or more. That said, you don’t need the most expensive of them all to get the job done. Shop smart and you’ll be sure to find one that fits your budget – maybe at your local Kmart (if you’ve got one) or a used one on Facebook Marketplace. Either way, the air-fryer is likely to cost you a lot less than a conventional electric oven – both budget and space wise. The other good thing with air-fryer cooking is that because food cooks a lot faster, it’s likely to be more energy efficient and save you some money on bills in the long run.

Air-fryer cooking: 3 Reasons Why It’s Obsessively Good

Air-frying is no longer a thing of the future. It gives you delicious food that is healthier with less fat. You’ll save lots of time in the kitchen with faster cooking and easier clean-up. It’ll also be lighter on your wallet if you shop around and use it well. What more can you ask for? That’s why air-fryer cooking is obsessively good!

Are you obsessed with air-fryer cooking? Or not convinced it’s worth a try?

Thank you for reading! Do come pay me a visit at Jan On The Blog – like, comment and follow it if you think it’s any good. Thanks again Helen for having me over at Crispy Confessions!

© Jan Perera 2020. All rights reserved.

Four Skills I Learned During Quarantine

Four Skills I Learned During Quarantine

Ever since we were first put under mandatory lockdown orders, it felt as if my little world had come crashing down around me. For the first time, I could not just walk out of my own home. Whenever I did brave the outdoors to go to the store, I was always amazed at the nearly empty streets. It was as if the apocalypse had come. It was as if the entire world had just stopped.

The world had seemingly stopped in March-April. And yet, we couldn’t just sit in front of the TV all day, mindlessly absorbing Netflix or Hulu on repeat. So, many of us went online, the only place where we could escape the reality of living under lockdown. I was one of those people who went online, but not to post mindless posts about how much it sucked to live under quarantine. I went online for a different reason.

I decided to revive my old blog, Crispy Confessions. I haven’t written in so long, and I kind of missed it. I used to write stories and poems all the time in high school and college. And now, with the craziness of life, I just didn’t have the time to write anymore. I wanted to change that.

In the process of reviving my blog, I ended up learning and gaining a few skills. Because of this, I am so thankful to this time for giving me the time to be able to do some of the things that I love doing.

Four Skills I Learned During Quarantine

1–Cooking Well

Before quarantine, I wasn’t really good at cooking. I ate a lot of processed foods and ramen noodles. But now, I have been watching cooking videos and searching for new recipes on Pinterest. I’m finding that I enjoy cooking. I enjoy that feeling of starting with the basics like meat or noodles and then combining them with vegetables and seasoning to create something delicious. The last thing I made was chili completely from scratch, and surprisingly, it was actually good.

My Chili!

2–Baking a Cake

I’ve made cake before but the Betty Crocker version. I’ve always wanted to bake a cake from scratch. So, one day, after I bought all the ingredients, I made a cake. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard. It just required a few basic ingredients, like flour, eggs, sugar, butter, and milk. The ingredients were then mixed together, poured into a cake pan, and then baked.

Here’s the recipe for the cake that I made that day. It was pretty good, especially with chocolate icing on top, because chocolate always makes everything better.

3–Using Instagram Effectively

I was using social media before lockdown. But I wasn’t using it effectively. I was just using Instagram to post pictures of the kids.

So, I decided to rethink my Instagram strategy. I know that Instagram can be a pretty powerful social media marketing tool. So, a few weeks ago, I changed my brand and the content. Using Canva (which has been a godsend), I have been using my graphic design skills that I learned in college to create Pinterest-worthy Instagram pictures to post. I’ve also rethinked my strategy for Instagram stories as well. Ever since then, I’ve increased my engagement on Instagram by twofold. I am still learning, however, and I’m excited about the things I will continue to learn from using this tool.

4–Using Pinterest Effectively

Before lockdown, I didn’t use Pinterest at all. I had an account that I had created years ago, but at the time I dismissed it as a glorified bookmarks tab. It sounded cool and all but I didn’t think I had the time to use it.

But then lockdown happened and suddenly I had more time that I knew what to do with. I decided to add Pinterest to my social media marketing strategy. After all, visual search is trending now; more and more people are using visuals to search and to obtain information. But besides that, I’ve learned that I can use Pinterest to find keywords for my blog posts. I can use Pinterest to see what is trending, visually, and possibly get inspiration from them.

I feel immensely proud at having gained these skills. Of course, I’m no expert. I’m still learning. And I like it. Life happens when learning happens after all.

What skills have you gained during the pandemic?

See also: The Five Best Hobbies To Do While Social Distancing

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How to Craft That Perfect Tweet

How To Craft That Perfect Tweet

Twitter is a powerful microblogging social media platform. It’s superpower is not just words but the ability to create good, lasting content in as few characters as possible. Many people struggle with writing; many more struggle with creating content that is short and to the point. In the social media age, this is a must. Failure to do so can result in less replies, less shares, and ultimately less engagement.

I am here to share with you seven tips and tricks that I have used to help me craft that perfect tweet.

1–Use Call-to-Actions

You’ve got to make the tweet compelling. You’ve got to give the audience a sense of urgency. You can do this by providing a call-to-action. Ask questions. Start a poll. Tell them to download something. Provide a link to a blog or a website. Whatever it is, get them to do something.

2–Use Visuals

In the word-dominated world of Twitter, pictures or GIFs can be used to help make your tweet stand out. Post a picture of something that you are passionate about. Post a funny GIF in a tweet or a response. If appropriate, add emojis to show how you feel.

3–Use Active Verbs

Use active verbs; don’t use passive ones.

4–Don’t Use Adjectives

It’s about the action that you want from the audience. It’s not so much about how pretty something is. Don’t use descriptive words. Use only the words that are absolutely necessary.

5–Use 0-2 Hashtags

Don’t use more than two hashtags. This is not Instagram. Using just one or two hashtags is sufficient. In some cases, it is better to not use hashtags at all. Just let the message speak for itself. If it’s a good one, then it will spread like wildfire.

6–Keep It Short

There’s a reason why the maximum character limit on Twitter is 280. Write short, simple sentences. Save the fluff for the book.

7–Give Value

Every tweet that you compose should give value. Ask yourself how this message can help the audience. Are you offering a service, a freebie, or information? We always write tweets for our audience.

Overall, keep the tweet simple, short, and to the point. Use images and hashtags only if it is necessary. Always make sure to have a call-to-action. Always give value to the audience.

What would you add to this list?

See also: The Five Best Ways To Increase Your Traffic on Twitter

5 Editing Tips That Every Writer Should Know

I have always loved to write. I have also always loved to edit. But, I didn’t always love editing my own work. I used to feel squeamish and intensely uncomfortable whenever I had to sit down with a red pen and start marking things out. I think I felt this way because it felt weird to read out loud what once existed only in the dark abyss of my mind. To read something that no one else has seen or even looked at before is such an intensely strange moment. But also incredibly magical.

Now, however, I love editing my own work. Sometimes I feel as if editing is my favorite part of writing. For one, I am exuberant because I am finally done with the writing part. It is a reward wrapped in a pretty box with a ribbon on top. For another, I love to read my own writing out loud, and just marvel at what I created.

Nurturing that first idea and turning it into a draft is like having a child and then watching that child grow up. Similar to a child, that draft must undergo several stages in order to get where it needs to be. Editing is the process of helping it get where it needs to go.

So, here are five editing tips that I think every writer should know.

1–Take a Break

After you finish writing, step away from your computer and go do something else. Studies from this Scientific American article show that people who take breaks can increase their creativity, productivity, and mental awareness. Breaks allow us to be able to step back from the piece. We can take a breather. We can relax. We can focus on something else.

After you finish writing a chapter of your book or an entire article, go do something else. Go on Facebook or Twitter and chat with some people. Grab your sketch book or canvas and paint a picture of the view outside. Go fix yourself some lunch. Finish knitting that sweater you’ve been working on for months. Go check the mail or take the trash out. Go clean your bathroom.

Whatever it is, it will get your mind off of your writing. Once you are ready to tackle your writing again, you will feel more energized and afresh with a clearer mind so that you can look at the writing from a fresh perspective.

2–Read It Out Loud

I don’t know about you, but I find that I do my best editing when I can read the words out loud. When I don’t read out loud, I feel restricted or contained. When I can read the words out loud, I feel this sense of freedom as the words and ideas take shape before my very eyes. It is probably at this moment that my words take on a life of their own. I guess you could say that the life of these words begins after first putting fingers to the keyboard, but I say they begin after they can be spoken by the writer.

Usually reading out loud once is not sufficient. I find that I have to read out loud twice, three times, sometimes even ten times. I read out loud to make sure that the writing makes sense and fits the overall message.

3–Use Different Colors

Whether you choose to edit on the computer or by hand, you can still use different colors. Use a different colored marker to show the revisions on paper. Use a different color font to differentiate from the main text. You could even assign different colors to the different edits. For example, use red to show grammar edits and yellow to show spelling corrections.

The reason why you should use different colors is so that you can clearly see the edits and revisions at first glance. Later, when you have to go back and rewrite the text, you can easily see the corrections and correct them accordingly.

4–Have a Dictionary Nearby

Whenever you are editing, you should always have a dictionary on hand. That dictionary can be a print one or an online one. I personally just use online dictionaries to check for the correct spelling of the words. Besides checking the spelling, I also like to double check the meaning to make sure that I am using the right word in the right context. It doesn’t hurt to double check.

5–Be Prepared for the Unexpected

Sometimes when you’re editing, you may find that you have to delete a sentence or two or even an entire paragraph if it seems like it doesn’t really fit the overall message of what you’re writing. And that is okay. When you do have to delete, you can just delete it or you could even save the sentences in a separate document. Perhaps those sentences could be the source of inspiration for another piece of writing.

The point is that when you are editing, you should be ready for anything. Edit the text while keeping in mind that it is just a first draft. The first draft is proof that you actually wrote something. Editing prunes that draft, making it be more effective by pruning out the weeds. It’s possible that you might have to trash the entire draft. Or it’s possible that that draft is pretty much perfect and you don’t have to do any huge revisions, aside from a spelling or grammar error here and there.

Editing is a skill that is necessary in cultivating good writing. The best books or articles weren’t written overnight. The idea was born and from that idea the writer nurtures and raises it to its fullest potential. It is almost like having a child, rearing it until you can release the child out into the big wide world.

What is your best editing tip?

Book Review: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

(This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate Links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you).

A week ago, I blogged about my intention of participating in a reading challenge. You can find the list of books that I plan to read here.

The first book on that list was The Beekeeper of Aleppo written by Christy Lefteri. I had actually saw this book in the best selling section of the library. The blurb looked promising. The first page was engaging. The book cover gave me peaceful vibes. I decided to give it a try.

I’m glad that I did. I’m glad that I chose to begin the challenge with this book. Despite the depressing storyline, it is nevertheless very engaging and a page turner. From the first page, I was hooked.

What It’s About

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is about a husband and wife living in Syria during the Civil War. Besides the destruction and turmoil from the political situation in the country, the couple is also undergoing their own civil war. They are still grieving over the loss of their young son. The wife, who previously was a painter, is now blind. The husband takes care of his wife’s physical needs. He is suffering emotionally too from their tragic loss. Their relationship was not what it once was.

They are motivated to leave Syria, however, after a threat against the husband’s life. They decide to head for the UK, where the husband has a cousin who has very recently headed there. What follows next is a couple’s tumultuous journey over land and water as they seek safety and sanctuary. They also start to slowly find their way back to each other, letting both of their inner and outer wounds heal.

Why You Should Read

The text is eloquently written, using key descriptive words and pivotal dialogue to let you envision the scenes playing before your eyes.

What I like most is how each chapter is divided: the first part shows how they are coping in the present and the second part shows their journey to the UK from Syria. Furthermore, the last word in the present day scenes is also the first word in the past scenes. I think this is effective as it shows that we can never truly escape our past. The present and the past are forever connected. This is an important theme in this book. The husband and wife are both haunted by the death of their son and memories of their life together in their home country.

Another important theme in this book is the idea of grief. When someone dies, we cannot completely heal from it without some form of closure. How long should you spend mourning the loss of someone we hold dear? When is it, if ever, okay to start to pick up the pieces and move on?

In this book, both the husband and wife deal with the grief of their son in different ways. The wife, who was formally a painter, is now blind and so she turns inwardly to herself, not showing any outward emotion. The husband shows his grief by not allowing himself to feel things. Instead his grief manifests himself in other ways, such as hallucinating people or things that are remind him of his son. Moreover, he finds himself doing things that he never wanted or expected to do.

In short, this book is a poignant account of one couple’s struggle with grief and ultimately documents their path toward healing from that grief. This topic is something that should be explored more in today’s culture. Too often, we are expected to put a lid on our grief. We are expected to not feel things, when sometimes experiencing our emotions is the best thing that we can do before we explode.

I give this book five stars for not only its excellent plot and character development but its willingness to raise the important issues that we need to address in society.

This book is available on and available to purchase on #PrimeDay:

What was the last book that made you feel something?