I’ve read two amazing books this month so far, both of which I found incredibly powerful in very different ways. Both are books that are definitely up the top of my Favourite Reads For This Year, as well as being added to my ongoing Favourite Books of All Time, all of which I have rated 5 stars on Goodreads. I loved both of these books so much, so I thought I may as well do a Double Review post rather than write about them separately. So, without any more rambling….
They Both Die At The End
by Adam Silvera
I’ve likely said this before, but to my eyes Adam Silvera is a storytelling genius. I fell hard for his moving and unique knack of writing diverse YA stories when I read More Happy Than Not, and this book love continued when I read History Is All You Left Me, and has now strengthened even more after finish the superb They Both Die At The End.
First of all, the overall concept of a Death-Cast in They Both Die At The End is just brilliant and makes for one of the most unique reads I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. The whole idea of living in a world in which you, your friends or your family, not to mention thousands of strangers, might get a midnight alert rom Death-Cast telling you you’re going to die within the next 24 hours is frightening. It’s meant to act as giving the Deckers (the people who’re going to die, whether from natural causes or accidents) a last chance to live. Before they die, they can go to their own funerals, submit epitaphs and visit Make-a-Moment venues or Travel Centres designed specifically for those who’ve never had the chance to cross travelling off their bucket lists. Adam Silvera does a wonderful job at bringing this concept to life, and of course bringing with it the reminder that we should all live our days like it’s our last.
Mateo and Rufus are the main characters we see this world through, and I loved them both. They’re told they’re going to die on the same day, and they decide to meet through the Last Friend app, to be there for each other during their last day on earth. They take that risk of opening up to a stranger due to different life circumstances I won’t disclose, and in the course of the day they develop a believable and beautiful friendship. As I said, I loved both characters and I was incredibly moved throughout, especially at the end of the book. It’s not very often that a book makes me so heartbroken that I cry. I did when I finished this book, though, and I think that was partly because I never wanted it to end. Any of it.
This is a powerful and beautiful book about two people finding each other in their last chance to live. It’s about the people they were and who they become together. It’s about the people they’ll leave behind and what they’ll leave behind when they’re gone. I really loved it and I hope you do too if you ever pick it up.
The Bone Sparrow
by Zana Fraillon
The Bone Sparrow is a book I believe everyone who can read should read, no matter what age. I don’t want to downgrade it by simply saying it’s an “important book”, because though it certainly is, it’s much more than just important. It’s about the incredibly unfair fact that humans are treated as criminals for trying to live. It’s about families desperate to leave their dangerous home countries to find somewhere safe to live, but no such place exists for them. It’s about people being told they don’t belong anywhere on earth. It’s about human cruelty. It’s about having hope in a life where hope is very hard to find. It’s about stories and imagination. It’s about the small kindnesses of humans that make all the difference. It’s about courage. It’s about friendship and family. It’s about everything that should be more important than white people’s snobbish ownership over a country like Australia or the UK or the USA.
Growing up in Australia, I have always been so disgusted by Stop The Boat Campaigns and the fact that thousands of refugees are imprisoned in disgusting environments on Manus Island, to name one of the Detention Centres on the border of Australia. To this day, I cannot understand how there are so many people around the world that are forgotten, that cannot be freed, that are so beyond unfairly treated it blows my mind. Too much of the Western World is evil and the severe mistreatment of refugees is one of the most evil things, as any one with a heart would know.
I admire Zana Fraillon so much for writing this novel. She has managed to write a novel about such serious and heartbreaking subject matter with a brightness and a hope I never would’ve expected. Subhi is the light of this novel. He is so hopeful that he, his sister Queeny and his Ma will one day find their way out of the Detention Centre he was born in and has lived in all his life (10 or so years). They are Rohingya refugees, the mostly Muslim minority in Myanmar that are being killed by the military/Barmar today, as part of the military crackdown crisis. Subhi is waiting for his Ba to come to them like he promised before he was born, and while he waits he tells himself and his best friend Eli stories and lives in a world of hope despite his disgraceful living circumstances. When he meets Jimmie, a girl from Outside, he learns more about what he’s missing out on and the powers of friendship and courage.
This is just a beautiful, vivid novel. I don’t want to give the plot or anything else away, but it’s another book that made me cry several times. It’s just so wonderful, I can’t even. Just read it, please, and see what I’m talking about. This novel should be read in schools like yesterday, maybe it is, I don’t know. While Fraillon’s characters and depiction of the Detention Centre are fictional, they are based on real things that are happening today. Things that we forget about in our safe little bubbles. These people like Subhi and his family shouldn’t be forgotten. Not ever. Even if there’s nothing those of us who care can do, we can at least listen and remember and send our thoughts their way.