Sunday, 26 April 2015

Book Review: God Loves Haiti

God Loves Haiti
By Dimitry Elias Leger
Published by Harpercollins
Available in hardback and ebook.
Paperback forthcoming.

Set around the the 2010 Haitian earthquake, Dimitry Elias Leger's debut novel, God Loves Haiti, explores what is lost and even gained during a disaster.

The epicentre of this story is a love triangle between Natasha, an artist, her husband who is also the President of Haiti, and her lover, Alain, a local businessman. All three characters are left confused with regards to their personal life and this reflects the unstable situation of the country. Around them people are struggling to cope and survive. Yet these three characters are trapped in their own personal disaster, with no foreign aid to help them make a decision. Religion, politics, love - these are the things people cling to during a crisis. Each of the main character represents one of these aspects. Embracing either religion, politics or love will help them survive.

Leger dips in to the viewpoints of all three characters, allowing the reader to see past events and how they have ended up in this situation. Natasha is determined to leave Haiti behind and will even marry a man who she doesn't love. She will even lock up the man who she loves in a cupboard so she can get to the airport to escape her former life. Even the president wants to escape his former life, show the people of his country that he is a natural leader and will not run off during a crisis. Internal struggles, external struggles - Leger makes sure his characters are as authentic as possible.

Leger makes sure that he shows how people from different classes have to survive after the earthquake. The privileged few are allowed protection in the camps run by foreign agencies while most citizens take shelter in the park, struggling to survive but the sense of community growing stronger. There is hope in these camps and the need to protect their cultural identity.

This book is rich in detail, and while it is about a disaster, Leger makes sure that there are plenty of laughs and surreal moments in the plot. One of my favourite moments was the President, while flat out on the tarmac of the runway, after the earthquake, has a vision including Haiti's previous leaders, all pleading for salvation. These surreal parts break up the brutal details of the earthquake and its effects on the population but Leger makes sure that the balance is just right.

God Loves Haiti is a complex book full of energy, laughs and insights in Haiti. This is a book definitely worth reading.

You can buy God Loves Haiti from your favourite bookshop.

I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Book Review: Matt Sumell's Making Nice

Making Nice
By Matt Sumell
Published by Harvill Secker
Available in hardback and ebook
Forthcoming in paperback

Making Nice, Matt Sumell's debut novel is going to be a novel that you're either going to like or you're going to instantly dislike. Sumell's novel tells the story of Alby and the way he is coping or rather not coping with his mother's death. Alby must quite literally fight his way through his loss and love.

Alby drinks, has sex, fights his way through his grief with no regard for anyone's feelings. On one hand he will protect a baby bird who he nurses but will spew out insults to young children and punch his sister.

Making Nice is an enjoyable book with an irritating main character.  This shambles of a character who can't appreciate the people around him or the life he has. At times, Alby reminded me of Hannah, the main protagonist from the TV show, Girls. I know it's becoming a cliche comparing books and films to Girls but Alby could have walked straight off the set. He has been pampered with a comfortable upbringing, doesn't seem to care about real life by walking away from jobs and responsibilities. The things that matter in life have become invisible to him.

Alby is a selfish character but seems to have lost his way in life, and it is this fact that makes this book an interesting read - he meanders from job to job, situation to situation. Everyone at some point of their life loses his or her way, forget the things which are important. I can guarantee that you will read this book and realise your life isn't as messed up as Alby's life.

So, read this book and decide if you like it or not. I think you're either going to like it or loathe it. Good luck! Making Nice is available from your favourite bookshop.

I was kindly sent a copy of Making Nice by the publisher.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Reading Round Up: March

The A-Z of You and Me isn't pictured
March was the month I may have read my book of the year, and also read books located in America, Haiti, New York and good old England.

Matt Sumell's debut novel, Making Nice, tells the story of Alby and his spiral of decline since the death of this mother. This book very much reminded me of Girls except with a male protagonist. I'll be reviewing this in more detail over the next few weeks.

God Loves Haiti by Dimitry Elias Leger tells the story of a love triangle, before and after the Haitian earthquake. Ledger's novel looks at the after effects of the earthquake on the people of Haiti, and they way they try to find ways of coping and surviving. I'll also be reviewing this soon too!

The A-Z of You and Me by James Hannah was the second book for the Curtis Brown Book Club. I really enjoyed the rhythm and pace of this book, and at times found my self re-reading parts aloud so I could hear the rhythm. You can read my review here.

Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation is one of those books that comes along just at the right time in your life. This is an amazing book, and I know I'll be going back to this book for a re-read very soon. If you like Charles Lambert's With a Zero at its Heart then you will absolutely love this!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Book Review: The A-Z of You and Me

The A-Z of You and Me
By James Hannah
Published by Doubleday
Available in hardback and ebook
Paperback forthcoming

James Hannah's debut novel, The A-Z of You and Me seems rather depressing on the surface - Ivo, in his 40's, is in a hospice, refusing visitors, waiting to die. Yet, this book is full of life and life affirming.

Ivo is full of regrets, as he stares out the window of the hospice, watching the garden and life carrying on without him. His carer, Sheila suggests he plays the 'A to Z game.' This involves making your way through the alphabet, thinking of a body part and a story associated with that part of the body.

Through a series of flashbacks, we see why Ivo's life is full of false starts, broken relationships with friends, lovers and families. He has drifted through life, not appreciating the relationships and life around him and in behaving like this he has lose the love of his life. Hannah creates characters with flaws making blunders, trying hard to fix problems but finding themselves spiraling away from an ideal they hold in their head. Yet Hannah makes sure there are sprinkles of comedy.

One of favourite things about The A-Z of You and Me is the rhythm of the sentences. I found myself on several occasions reading it out loud because the pace and the rhythm galloping along, whisking me up into the story.

There is no happy ending. There are no perfect characters. This is a novel where the protagonist stays in bed, refusing to let go of the past, wanting to stew in the tragedies in his life. This is a book that makes you realise that you don't want to end up like this character.

You can The A-Z of You and Me from your favourite bookshop.

This was the second book in the Curtis Brown Book Group.