The beginner’s guide to living by Lia Hills

beginnersThis novel gets you thinking about your own beliefs and may even get you picking up some books on philosophy.

The beginner’s guide to living treks the main character’s attempts to come to terms with the tragic death of his mother. We find Will struggling to get through one day at a time. To cope, he writes down questions he needs answered, which leads him to philosophy to try and figure out the events in his life. These events don’t just  include death, but new love, new experiences, and new family dynamics. To cope further, Will uses his mum’s treasured camera, and the reader can see the photos he takes.

Everybody can get something out of this book if they want to. Whether it is understanding from the philosophy quotes, or new questions you yourself want answered; heartache for Will and his family as they come to terms with loss, or; finding a new ‘out’, like photography, this book is worth reading.

8/10.

RF.

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Walker BooksHmmmm. This is a confronting graphic novel. It is a look into the world of the main character Kimberly Keiko Cameron (a.k.a Skim) through entries in her diary. This world is quite dark and depressing, with characters from her school trying to bring in positive light, but in such a fake way it makes everything even more depressing. Skim is trying to find her way through emotional themes such as suicide, while attempting to hold onto and find suitable friends, as well as deal with the emotions of first love. The images of the weather in this novel seem to reflect the mood of the story. Do you agree?

5/10 – not really my cup-of-tea

RF

The complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

The Penguin GroupAn absolutely amazing graphic novel. A view of the Holocaust that will imprint on your memory.

Maus tells the true story of Spiegelman’s father’s survival of, arguably, one of the darkest periods of world history – the Holocaust. The remarkable artwork treks Vladek’s story from pre-war Poland to Auschwitz, from young love to tragedy. Each character of the novel is given an animal head on a human body, representative of their origins. For example, the Jewish characters have heads of mice and the German characters have heads of cats. The strong subject matter of the Holocaust is lightened by snippets of present-day, as we are shown the relationship between father and son and can see how the war shaped them.

The artwork, and therefore the story, stays with you long after you have finished reading. I give it a 10/10.