The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

the palace of illusionAll young Panchaali had known as a kid was one propechy. She has been foreseen to make a mark in history. That’s made  her so curious on how and why she would do it. Her nanny  has often rambled on and on how she and her elder brother, Dhri was born. Secretly, Panchaali didn’t all of it because she knew that Dhai Maa often mixed things with what she was true and what she actually wanted to happen.

It was true that she was born from fire that was prayed straight to the Gods. It was true, that the King, her father, only expected for a son. It was also true that her brother was prophesied to kill their father’s worst enemy and that she was about the change the course of history. But she didn’t really believe that her father welcomed them both. She had a fleeting blur kind of memory that when her father wanted to pick only her brother up to show to the crowd, they held hands so tight. Alas! Their father was forced to welcome them both.

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

book thiefThis was a story narrated by Death, who really hates the despair, death and destruction bought by war. In the case of this book, it was World War II, when everyone would salute Adolf Hitler with a “Heil Hitler!” And consider Jews, they were people with really filthy blood. This was a story revolved around a young 10 year old girl, named Liesel, who, on the beginning on the book, was on the way to meet her foster parents, with her mother and brother. On the train, her brother suddenly died, which was the first time Death saw her and the first time she took (or ‘stole’) a book. A book about ‘Gravediggers’.

Oh, the power of words! As soon as Liesel reached her new house, she met her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. When Hans found out that Liesel had that book, he decided to teach Liesel words, and that was how Liesel learnt how to read and write. She found so much joy in it, which led her to steal/take more books. She was like me, always hunger for words, sentences, and stories. Really, Hans played a vital role in Liesel’s life. When she found out the joy of the words, she was very happy. Liesel thanked her foster father.

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The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco

the name of the roseThis story was set in the year 1327. When King Edward III acceded to the English throne in the year January 25, and on February 1st became King of England. It is the first novel of an Italian murder, which means that the setting is in an Italian Monastery. The two main characters had visited the monastery. The story was narrated by Adso, the helper of the main character, Brother William. The story was mostly about him.

On the trip in the monastery, suddenly, somebody got murdered, leaving the whole Monastery shaken with fear. William accepted the Abbot’s request to help find the murder. So on was the quest, William started talking to many people to search for clues. He interviewed the herbalist to find out which herb killed. Meanwhile, Adso just watched, and learned.

The story got even more and more confusing, as more people died. William noticed that three of their fingers were stained with black, and their tongue was black too. They were also found in random places, like death in the bathtub. And their corpses mostly found in water, looked recent, confusing the ‘detective’ even more, and frustrating him.

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The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

count-of-monte-cristoThere are two parts in this story. The first part before and when Edmond is in jail, and the part when Edmond becomes a Count. This is my warning to you: do not pick this book up and start it if you have something important that you can’t skip it or you need to do in the next day or three. The reason why is you won’t be able to put the book down, or if you do, you’ll move zombielike through your everyday tasks while your mind stays with the adventures of Edmund Dantes.

Edmond Dantes is a young and very successful merchant sailor. As the ship lands, Dantes is the first to inform the ship’s owner, Morrel, that their Captain has died and told Dantes to deliver two packets: One to Marshall Bertrand, and the other to an unknown man in Paris. Morrel hints that Dantes may be the next captain. This conversation is overheard by Danglars, a man also working for the same ship, and very jealous of Dantes’s success. While he watches Edmond invite everyone he knows for his wedding with Mercedes, Danglars teams up with Caderousse and Fernard, somebody who is in love with Mercedes. They send a letter, and pretty soon, on the day of the wedding, a few minutes before Edmond and Mercedes are declared as husband and wife, Edmond, as innocent as he is, is arrested.

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The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

the_boy_in_the_striped_pyjamas_wallpaper_1Bruno was nine years old when the story began. He was a forthright and curios boy who loved to explore. One day, back from his school, back from another day with Karl, Martin, and Daniel – his friends of life – he found the family’s maid, Maria, was packing the things up, including his extra personal stuffs. He immediately went to protest to his mom about Maria. After a short talk with her mom, he found out they were moving from Berlin to a strange city that he did not know before. He complained, of course, but alas, it didn’t work.

Soon after they moved, Bruno, and his twelve year old sister, Gretel, were not comfortable at all. The new home was called Out-With and there were mysterious looking people in pyjamas. Bruno, being a little kid, was very confused about it. He remembered there were memories and clues of “A Fury” and his wife going for dinner with them.

One day, Bruno decided to go out and explore the garden of Out-With. There, in the backyard of his home, he met a Jewish called Shmeul who had the same birthday as Bruno. Bruno did not understand why Shmuel was wearing striped pyjamas. Both of them became best of friends, facing many problems. Meanwhile, Bruno’s grandma died because of old age. She had a fight with Bruno’s dad before they moved, on the night Bruno’s dad became a commander of the army. She told him he looked silly and they argued a lot until Bruno’s grandma left the house in Berlin.

In Out-With, Bruno and Gretel had head lice. They had their hair shaven off. Bruno proudly showed it to Shmeul. Shmeul told Bruno that Bruno looked just like him but he was fatter. Now, Bruno had forgotton most of his memories of Berlin. Many days had passed and Bruno received good news. He, “the hopeless case” (Bruno called Gretel that) and his Mom would move back to their old house in Berlin, but his dad stayed in the army. He directly went to tell Shmuel about it, but he received bad news from Shmuel. Shmuel’s father was missing, so Bruno decided to make up their last adventure.

Since Bruno looked like Shmuel after having hair shaven off, he wore striped pyjamas and sneaked below the fence that divided them. They went to find Shmuel’s father. They searched in vain. Shmuel’s father was missing as if swallowed by thin air. Then as Bruno was about to go home, there was a march. Bruno did not understand that they were led a very warm room which Bruno believed was a shelter. But it was actually a Gas Chamber. There, while holding hands with Shmuel, they met death.

The family members were confused in Bruno’s disappearance. But to them, Bruno’s death was a mystery. Little did they knew the truth.

***

The story was talking about racialism. About the Nazi and the Jewish. About the German people who wanted to destroy the human races. Millions of people died in that war. But why war? I think war is not necessary because it only results in more suffering. War is started by conflict between two (or more) countries/states and it ends in violence.

Beside that, war is also started by hatred. I think hatred is terrible. It creates misundertanding among people. The bridge of harmony wouldn’t be crossed at all. What I understand about racism is that of course people are different from outside… but they are actually the same in the inside. There is no superiority in races. People from different races are just different in looks, religions, and culture. We are all human beings in this planet.

I was told by my mom that the central idea of the story is about holocaust. Holocaust is “genocide” or the murder of the Jewish people. Before I read this book, I did not know the term of “genocide”. Now, I feel pity on Jewish people. People must realize their mistakes in the past. In my generation, I hope there is no such thing as holocaust or war anymore.

Racism is not allowed in my school. It would create an unnecessary fight between children and they would take sides. This prolonged condition might create a war in the future. I simply believe children are the next generation, so hatred should be eliminated from our mental mind since the every beginning.

The story is quite sad. As the Germany’s commander, Bruno’s father did not notice he killed his own son. He did not even notice that his son had befriended with his enemy. I imagine if the father knew all this, he would have resigned from his job and stayed with his family. But somehow, I think he woudn’t have felt sorry for himself.

The book is very serious but not so difficult for me. I am glad I finished the book because it brings symphaty in my heart.