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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

From Normal People to Kindred | Six Degrees of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation is a fun monthly meme hosted by Books are my Favourite and Best

Every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

This month’s book is Normal People by Sally Rooney.

I’ll be honest - whenever Normal People shows up on my radar, I think about Sleepless in Seattle. I’m not exactly sure why - they don’t sound similar or have any connection. Or maybe they do and I noted it but forgot. Or maybe I was thinking of the movie when someone put this book in my radar. Do you have that - the most random media seemingly connected in your head but without any basis?

So while Sleepless in Seattle is the first thing I’m thinking of, it’s not a book, so I'll try again.

Even before knowing what Normal People may be about, it was a book I wanted to read. It likely has to do with some combination of the title, the cover, and the memories of Sleepless in Seattle coming together to make this book sound appealing. Another book that’s on my wishlist for similar reasons is The Vanishing Half. While I do know vaguely what this book is about, the title by itself makes me think of The Avengers Endgame (where half the population vanished).

The Vanishing Half also makes me think of Tom Perotta’s book, The Leftovers. In this case, only 2% of the population disappeared but that’s still in the order of millions. The Leftovers has been made for TV and that first episode is very haunting to watch. 

However, I haven’t read the book, nor was very keen to read it either. Another TV show that I loved but just cannot bring myself to read the books is Game of Thrones. Everything about the book is right up my alley, but during my first read attempt, when I realized that after hours of reading and eight chapters later, I had only just finished the contents of the first episode, I gave up. Yes, as any avid reader will tell you, that’s not how you should rate books but the show really was good (until the last season) and I figured I’ll live forever so I can read the books some other time.

One great aspect of Game of Thrones was the number of main characters and how well well they are developed. It’s very hard to pull that off. A more recent (and shorter) book I read that had multiple main characters was Homegoing. Homegoing probably relates better to a short story collection than a novel but the characters do have strong connections between them and each stands out strongly in their chapter.

Reading Homegoing made me feel the immense passage of time. The first and last pages of the book are separated by more than two centuries and a lot changes between them. Another book that made me similarly feel the passage of time, although a much shorter span this time is Eleanor. Both in Homegoing and in Eleanor, at every point in the book, you feel yourself wishing that you could go back to the first page and shift the position of one domino and thus give them different futures. Interestingly, they are also about sisters and the different fates that they encounter.

One thing I loved about Eleanor is all the jumps through time and Eleanor’s random disappearances. There are a few books I’ve enjoyed that used this literary device - the one I loved best in that list is Kindred. This story about a 20th century woman disappearing suddenly from the present and moving to the 1800s was thrilling on some levels and terrifying on other. 

So I've gone from a very contemporary literary fiction to a historical fantasy books with time travel. 

Have you read any of these books? Where did (or would) your chain take you?