When I was young, I got around—reading three or four books at the same time, juggling plots, themes, and characters with abandon, but now I’m a responsible reader—no longer one of those flighty, ‘I’m-going-to-read-around’ kind of gals. Or so I thought, but the last two months have found me playing fast and loose with my reading again. Starting a book, then ignoring it to pick up another, setting that one aside. I want to be head over heels but here are two novels that gave me serious commitment issues and so are ending up as It’s Not You, It’s Me.
The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
Published by Penguin Books
Publication date: October 18th 2016
Two families, one bomb, seven lives irrevocably changed. The Association of Small Bombs takes place in Delhi, India and the bomb is part of the ongoing conflict between Hindus and Muslims.For one family it kills their two young boys while leaving their Muslim friend injured but alive. Author Karan Mahajan deals with the event and its aftermath from the perspective of the boys’ families, bomb makers and an NGO that tries to help the accused men get a fair trial.
Mahajan explores many themes in Small Bombs, but none fully develop and rather than insight into the political, economic, and religious issues of the times the actions of the characters feel formulaic. Sadly, the novel meanders to the point I set it aside repeatedly for days. With this kind of material Small Bombs should have the same propulsion as an explosion, but it simply doesn’t.
Country of Red Azaleas by Domnica Radulescu
Published by Twelve
Publication date: April 5th 2016
I was ready to commit to Country of Red Azaleas by Dominica Radulescu but it did not return my passion. The story is of Lara and Marija, women who have been friends since they were seven and Yugoslavia was Communist. They attend college in Belgrade and after the USSR dissolves and the ethnic hatreds that have been held in check by Communism erupt they are separated. Marija is Muslim and Lara is Christian. Lara falls in love with an American who gets her out of the country before the atrocities begin, but Marija stays behind as a political correspondent and agitator.
The premise of genocide and rape as a form of warfare are more than enough to create a deeply affecting novel, but Country does not come together in that way. Instead, it feels as if Radulescu can’t find her footing. This uncertainty leaches off the page to the point where, with less than 50 pages left and Lara finally trying to find this woman who was supposed to be her dearest friend, I was apathetic. Maybe my expectations were too high; I thought I’d be swept away by the emotional complexities of friends divided and separated by the world around them and this never happened. I never felt this book and by its end I did not understand the characters or events at all.
Are you having commitment issues? Leaving one book for another you think will be more exciting? Or has your spring been one of exciting reading?
Lynn @ Smoke & Mirrors says
I like you’re “It’s Not You, It’s Me” posts. Mainly because it’s true, for most published works, there is an appreciative audience and sometimes that includes me/you and sometimes it does not! 🙂 I did add Country of Red Azaleas to my TBR, but I really don’t believe I want to tackle the subject matter of the other. I just finished reading The Color Purple and Room, two intense novels, all about abuse of females. I’m kinda fried at the moment and am grateful that children’s books await my attention now! 🙂
Sarah's Book Shelves says
OK – I know it’s been forever, but I realized I never emailed with you about Small Bombs…there’s something I wanted to ask you about…actually, 2 things!
Eva @ The Paperback Princess says
Ah this made me laugh. Getting around eh? I mean, if they aren’t doing it for you, they’re not doing it for you. It has to be mutually…satisfying right?
Exactly! Buy a girl a drink first, right?
Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf says
Ohhh that’s too bad about Small Bombs. Sounds like it reached a little too far without enough room to do any of the themes justice.
I really enjoy this feature on your blog, btw. 🙂
Tara Caudle says
You know, I’ve been kind of a distracted reader over the past couple of weeks which probably means that I don’t love what I’m reading. I’ve read a couple of interesting nonfiction titles (related to some eating issues that I’m working on), and that’s been fine; I think I need a good kick in the fiction tail, though…or a better book – ha!
I love these posts. Not because I relish the fact that some reads are letting you down, but the more we talk about it being ok not to connect with everything and feeling ok about moving on to something that really floats your boat, the more we all begin to hopefully feel more comfortable with it. I’m having trouble connecting with anything right now, but I really know it’s me, not them. I did just fly through Mary Kubica’s new one and she always keeps my pages turning.
Agreed! It’s so funny you would use the term “float your boat” because I just finished my review of a novel about sailing and while I adored it, it might not have the same impact on others.
I for one would love to hear about a sailing book! Did you ever see the movie All is Lost with Robert Redford? So good. One line of dialogue and I was riveted.