December 27, 2011

Best Book of 2011

I've read 31 books this year.  Yes, I keep track - I'm a bit of a nerd this way - if I don't, I forget what I've read.  I read a wide variety of books from B.K.S Iyengar's Tree of Yoga to Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim, a dark novel about a man's return from Hell.  I don't often read non fiction and if I do it must be written well, so that it flows like a story, I have little patience when it comes to slogging through a book.  Books are meant to be enjoyable to me.  They are my idea of the perfect escapism.

My favourite kind of books are those that portray the lives of ordinary, every day people and then take you deep into their lives.  Show you their inner psyche and relationships you would never expect if you were to cross paths on the street.

Therefore, I think the best book of 2011 was Alice Hoffman's The Story Sisters.  I read this book in 24 hours.  I could not put it down.  

It is the dark tale of three young sisters who live with an imaginary world, Arnelle.  Elv, the eldest, invented the world and the language, which only the sisters speak.  The sisters lock out the world, including their mother.  The youngest sisters, Claire and Meg, consistently look to Elv for approval and affection.  As the sisters grow older and Elv becomes a teenager, their bond and friendship begins to crumble.  Elv becomes increasingly addicted to drugs and the younger girls become terrified of their sister.  The novel follows the girls through the years struggling to stay together as a family until tragedy strikes and their world crumbles.  

What I found most intriguing about this book was how the women had to fight to stand alone.  They had to discover their own strengths within themselves away from the world they had always known.  They had to learn to live with their faults and their guilty feelings.  They had to overcome tragedy.  And although the end is not perfect, I had a sense of fulfillment and warmth because these women fought tooth and nail to stay afloat in a world that never seemed to be in their favour.

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