The Lovely Bones

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This book has been (sort of) haunting me since I’ve finished the book and I thought I would just write my thoughts down just like Ruth in the book does.

The Lovely Bones was something I picked up from the school library on a whim. I had heard of the movie, and when I saw the book I spared no thought and just added it onto the pile I was going to check out. It was very difficult and challenging to read this book.
The crime itself, the rape and murder of Susie Salmon, was the least harrowing of all. In fact, it was the easiest to comprehend for me, but I cannot really fathom why. One thing I find it hard to understand was the heaven or the afterlife, whatever you choose to call it. I am not the most religious person – I don’t even know what I believe in. For now I still call myself an agnostic. My idea of life is like a virtual game. We are all avatars or characters being controlled by a larger being, and all we achieve or lost is basically based on our skills, talent, hard work, determination and a fluctuating amount of luck. I don’t believe in heaven or afterlife. My idea of death is that after your last breath, you will close your eyes to darkness, darkness that is eternal and forever. And maybe, just maybe, you might be reborned later on, but I believe that your memories will be wiped out and you start fresh. So reading Susie’s perspective from Heaven was difficult, yet comforting. Comforting to read that Heaven is safe and comfortable for the dead.
I think what I really love about this book is that it gives you snippets and snapshots of all the different people’s lives, and how they carry on with their life and cope with Susie’s death. I love how realistic the book is, how in reality people don’t just pick up their lives from where they stop and continue on after a death like nothing happened. I love how the book touches on the issues all the different characters face, and how they struggle to cope. I love how Jack (Susie’s father) loves his late daughter so much that he never let goes of her memories, and how that impedes on his life and his family’s life. I love how Susie’s death made Jack love and protect his remaining daughter and son more, and how Lindsey and Buckley in turn be more protective and love their father more. I love the relationship between Lindsey and Samuel, how gentle and realistic and beautiful it was. I love how Hal and Samuel was somehow slowly incorporated into the Salmon family, and how they just seem to belong them. I love watching Buckley grow up, so mature yet nerdish and precious at the same time.
One of the things I couldn’t understand was Abigail (Susie’s mother). I don’t get how she could suddenly be attracted to Len in the immediate aftermath of her daughter’s death. I don’t get how she didn’t like her life as a mother and wife and always want to leave this life. If that was so, why didn’t she leave earlier? Why only after Susie’s death? But I really like how the author wrote in Abigail running away from her fears or old life, because I think that is something a lot of people do, run away. I like Abigail the most when she came back from San Franciso, back to her old life. I respect her strength and her courage. I also like how Lindsey’s and Buckley’s reactions was so realistic and blunt and how the author didn’t turn it into some sappy happily every after thing. And I am so envious of the love between Jack and Abigail, how distant yet close this relationship was and is.
I also don’t get how Ray started to love Susie, and Susie started to love Ray when they don’t know each other well. To me, that’s a crush and nothing more. I don’t believe in love at first sight (I only believe in adoration or attraction at first sight) and they were fourteen! Isn’t that too young to know surely if you’re in love?
Ruth is a complex character. Till now I still don’t know if she can see the dead. I don’t understand what she does in New York, finding people’s death site and stuff like that. And I completely dislike the part where she and Susie exchanged roles. Again, I don’t believe in an afterlife.
I love how cleverly Alice Sebold, the author, weaves in even the finest detail about the most minor characters. Mr Botte’s daughter’s death. Artie in the gifted sypnosium. Joe Ellis being affected about being misunderstand end by everyone. Ruana Singh’s marriage falling apart. Len coping with his life. Grandma Lynn and her drinking and craziness and loving her daughter and gaining her daughter’s acceptance finally. Mr Harvey and his childhood with his mother. I only wish that she had touched on more about George Harvey, about how he killed his other victims and Susie, and why.
Alice Sebold’s musings about the bones was complicated. To say I understood everything will be a lie. I don’t understand the book fully, and I admit I will never pick up this book again for a re-read. This book was depressing yet hopeful, complicated yet simple and it put me in emotional turmoil. There are certain parts where I felt like crying or actually teared up a bit, and there were parts where I smiled, and I think those parts was the loveliest bits of the book.

I guess these are my thoughts. I think writing this out probably allowed me to accept the fact that I loved and disliked this book at the same time, and that I never really truly understood this book.

The Lovely Bones

Thoughts on Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Happy 2013!
So if you paid attention to my blog, you’ll realize that I have updated my Books To Read list. My book genre preferences have expanded, and now I’m no longer solely interested in fiction, but also in nonfiction books such as memoirs and self-enrichment books. I have managed to surprise myself, but I’m pleased with the new selection of books.

On my list is this must-read book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, who writes about her parents disciplining her and how she disciplines her daughters. I must admit some of her methods are a little extreme (from what I’ve heard of; I’m still on Chapter Four) but her methods and her daughters’ successes make me feel lazy and unaccomplished. Which is why, I’m going to change for the better! (Hai-yah!)
Here are some of the rules I’m setting myself to improve and discipline myself (and probably will keep adding some more throughout the days).

1) Drink at least 8 glasses of water. (This is something I lack of but is important to my well-being. Assuming that I sleep for 7 hours each day, I have 17 waking hours, which mean that I have to drink a glass every 2 hours.)

2) Follow a timetable.

3) Study everyday. (This excludes homework, and includes reading textbooks, notes and doing sums or practices.)

4) Eat healthily.

5) Exercise!

6) DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. (Uhuh, this is very important. Refer to point 2.)

7) Read for at least half an hour everyday. (Excluding newspapers)

8) Work hard and smart.

9) Play piano everyday for 30 minutes. (Scales, exam pieces before some random pieces)

10) Keep my room clutter-free and do not accumulate. For every new possession, get rid of something you don’t need. (Excludes books.)

11) LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST.

The list will go on, but for now I’m going to stop here.

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A/N on 27th April 2013: This did not happen. But I’m working on it.

Thoughts on Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

The Breakfast Club

In a span of two days, I’ve accomplished about 4 movies. The Breakfast Club, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Best Exotic Marigolds Hotel, and Snow White and the Huntsman. The Breakfast Club is probably one of my favourites.

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming of age comedy-drama film written and directed by John Hughes. The storyline follows five teenagers (each a member of a different high school clique) as they spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all deeper than their respective stereotypes.

I was first compelled to watch this movie because I was fascinated with the old movies. I like to call them “oldies”. I loved Grease, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and this movie is now added on to the short yet classic list. The movie is really cute. And very realistic. It’s hilarious, and confusing at the same time, and makes me laugh even though I should be exhausted at 11 in the night.

Bender is the jerk, the trouble-maker, but yet I can see what Claire sees in him. Behind that bad-boy appearance is a boy who is consistently hurt and put down by his father and just want to be liked. His snark protects him from any more hurt, and as a boy of course he’s meant to make trouble. He’s also loyal, from how he distracted the Principal Vernon just to save his new friends from being caught.

Claire is most likely the Queen Bee of the school. She’s pretty, and she is into makeup and shopping. She’s innocent, and she’s a little conceited and self-conscious. She’s unable to admit that she’s a virgin, but she has a kind soul and is probably the first to see the good in Bender.

Andrew is the jock. He’s on the wrestling team, and so were the rest of the men in his family. His father puts high hopes on him, and consistently gives Andrew grief from not doing bad-ass things and getting into trouble and risking himself from losing the wrestling competition. Andrew feels overly pressurised and feels hatred and anger to his father, just like Bender.

Brian is the geek. He’s handsome, and really cute. He’s into Mathematics, and Physics and like Andrew, his family has high expectations of his grades. Brian is also unable to admit he was a virgin, and was suicidal because he flunked an assignment and was afraid of his parents’ reaction.

Allison is the confusing one. She’s a compulsive liar, and her family ignores her, making her feel despair and feel like leaving home. She carry around things as though she is running away from home. She has no friends either than the Breakfast Club, and her random yet few outbursts makes me feel confused. She doesn’t dress well, and keeps to herself.

But soon, the Breakfast Club bonds together. Claire helps Allison doll up, and everyone admits about their problems, such as peer pressure. However, despite these developing friendships the students are afraid that once the detention is over, they will return to their very different cliques and never speak to each other again. After the detention, in which Brian write an essay for all of them, Allison and Brian kissed, and Claire gives Bender her earring, which he wear on his ear.

I think what touches me is not only the developing, rare friendship between them, but also the essay Brian wrote.

Dear Mr Vernon,

We accept the fact that we have to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention, for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you are crazy for making us write an essay to you about who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us. In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out, is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket-case, a princess and a criminal. Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club

It was so true and realistic. People see each other as they want to see. We are consistenly being defined by labels. And we feel the pressure to abide by this labels.

I suddenly feel the courage to break out. I don’t know what I am labelled as, be it grumpy or irritating or goody-two-shoes. Who cares? As long as I’m who I want to be, as long as I’m friends with who I want to be friends with, as long as I dream whatever dreams I want to dream of, WHO CARES?

I don’t.

The Breakfast Club

Post-examinations

So my examinations are over. Yayy. After more than a month of studying, studying and a bit of procrastination…

I’m still afraid that I will do horribly in the examinations, but I keep comforting myself that I’ve done my best, I’ve studied and crammed all I could and whatever results I get, I’m going to accept it. Somehow that made me felt worse.

But I have other things to think about for this five days I’m free from school. Such as what movies to watch, which book to read, what Glee and Taylor Swift edits to make for my Instagram, and events to plan for my co-curricular activity. (Did you know I’m appointed Welfare Head? I’m so happy and excited!)

And of course my piano theory examinations are in two weeks, and now that my time is freed up from studying, I have to practise the piano. It’s not like I hate playing the piano. I actually like it. But I don’t enjoy to playing my examination pieces, and scales and arpeggios. I rather print sheet music of popular songs and jammed it out. I wouldn’t even want to take the examinations, except I understand my father’s rationale. That learning and taking the examinations will give me a skill I can use in the future.

Oh did I mention I got 59/100 for my French examination? It’s kind of good in my class, since there are only a few who got higher than me. I’m glad I passed too. But somehow, I feel really unhappy, because my friend N had a better result. I’m really competitive, which is a blessing and curse to me. Blessing as it motivates me and pushes me to strive for better results, and curse because it gives me too much unduly stress.

Oh well. Before you leave my page, to check out this hilarious video on Youtube about this guy called Tommy trying to use lyrics of Taylor Swift songs as pick up lines.

Post-examinations

Unexpected happiness

Things happen without reason, or warning. They come and sneak up to you unexpectedly, surprising you. Today was one of those days.

I was on the train, on my way back after a long afternoon with my friends working on Maths. After my friend alighted at her stop, I was all alone.

Or so I thought.

This lady, maybe in her late fifties to early sixties, had noticed the school bear keychain my school bag sported and told me that the bear was very cute. She began striking up a conversation with me, and soon her husband sitting next to her joined her.

We talked about school, Chinese, another school (HC), my primary school, being filial… and after that amazing conversation, I felt elightened and more aware of the surroundings. It’s amazing how I was able to confidently converse with them in Chinese, and I didn’t feel nervous. I think I just thought of them like old friends, or elder relatives.

To that couple, thank you for teaching me and making my day.

Unexpected happiness