Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Finished Reading 1/28/2014 - Counting by 7s, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

This is a great young adult title about a girl with Sherlockian intelligence who is given up as a baby, and then as a twelve year old loses her new parents.  Willow has a lot of trouble connecting with people, but when the new friend she meets at counselling intervenes to try to find her a home, suddenly the loneliest girl in the world is surrounded by a strange cast of characters who go to extreme lengths, some of them against their natural inclinations, to provide her a new family.  Somehow, the girl who by intellect and circumstance both is an outsider, connects movingly with the reader.  It's a subtle book, and though it's an easy read and one you will find yourself constantly wanting to turn the next page, it deals with the very weighty subjects of loss, grief, and identity with a very deft hand.  This is definitely a recommended title.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan



For me, this book appeared out of nowhere on a swiftly rising tide.  Around the same time I first saw this title on an awards list and got interested, several of my friends asked me if I'd read, or recommended I read, Mohsin Hamid.  I haven't read Hamid's other two novels, but this one deserves the buzz.

The book never names a city or a character, and it's narrated in second person point of view--all risky choices, but here they pay off big.  The frame is of a self-help book to assist you, the reader/protagonist, in doing just what the title claims.  It's broken into specific targets or goals, each of which is undermined by a multitude of factors that stand in the way: disease, poor infrastructure, government corruption, shady business partners, murderous business rivals, love.  Along the ride, the second person pov forces you to inhabit this unnamed city and rise through its squalor and filth and crime and death.  I was frequently reminded of the three months my wife and I spent in India.  For Westerners especially, this short novel goes a long way to helping readers understand the challenges and motivations of rising Asia.  Another recommended title.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid


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