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October 19th, 2009  · Rachel

Rachel reviews "Infidel", by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ayaan was raised in a traditional Muslim home in Africa, she experienced an intellectual awakening in Europe and now critical of Islam, living under armed guard. In 2005, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

(Non-Fiction)Review of "Infidel"
An Autobiography by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

When I finished the last page of Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I closed the cover and commented on what a powerful book it was. Others have described the Hirsi Ali's autobiography as remarkable, amazing, or a a brave, inspiring and beautifully written memoir. All such acclamations are warranted as Hirsi Ali uses clear and descriptive language to tell the story of how she became one of Time magazines 2005 one-hundred “most influential people in the world today.”

Born in 1969, Hirsi Ali was born a traditional Muslim girl. She was raised in Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya, where her family held steadfast to the doctrines of the Quran. Like the 6000 young girls that undergo female genital excision everyday, Hirsi Ali was forced to submit to excision in order keep her pure, as well as other cultural practices requiring her to take a secondary and subservient role in life, simply because she was female.

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Updated: 24-Oct-2009
Web View Count: 38835 viewsLast Web Update: 24-Oct-2009
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The Time In Between

July 25th, 2008  · Rachel

Rachel reviews "The Time In Between", an award winning novel by David Bergen. A

(Fiction)Review of "The Time In Between"
an award winning novel by David Bergen

The 2005 winner of the Giller Prize, David Bergen’s novel, “The Time In Between” is about a Vietnam veteran, Charles Boatman, who returns to Vietnam to face some of the demons that have haunted him for decades after serving there. When he goes missing, his son and daughter, Jon and Ada, travel to Vietnam in search of him. While Jon soon emotionally abandons the search for his father, Ada continues to follow any clue that might lead to her father, becoming entangled in the lives of those she meets. The novel unfolds, moving between past and present, father and daughter, as the two main characters each weave their way along an emotional journey. The strength of the tie between father and daughter is developed in the section of the book covering the years prior to Charles' return to Vietnam and then as Ada gains insight into her father's trauma as she continues her search for him.

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Updated: 26-Jul-2008
Web View Count: 13752 viewsLast Web Update: 26-Jul-2008
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A Long Way Gone

January 2nd, 2008  · Rachel

Rachel reviews "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier", an autobiography by Ishmael Beah. It's a mesmerizing tale of how an ordinary African boy, living in Sierra Leone, becomes a killing machine and lives to tell about it

(Non-Fiction)Review of "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier"
an autobiography by Ishmael Beah

Living in the relative comfort of North America, war is not something that I know much about, but Ishmael Beah knows about it first-hand. In his autobiography “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier,” Beah tells his tale of tragedy, violence and survival. He uses honest, straightforward language that carries you along as though he were telling the tale as you walk beside him.

When twelve-year-old Beah, his brother and some friends left home to visit a neighbouring African village, they had no idea that their lives would be forever changed. While away, the Sierra Leone rebel army attacked his village, leaving in its wake a tide of chaos and devastation. Beah tells how he spent the next few months wandering the forests, trying to find his family and to overcome countless difficulties in order to stay alive. While traveling with a group of six other homeless boys brought Beah companionship, it also meant that they were regarded with fear and suspicion, or met with hostility, as others thought they were a wandering squad of child-soldiers. Months passed and the boys narrowly avoided death by any number of ways, until they are given shelter at a village occupied by government forces. However, the reprieve was short-lived as, within a few months, the village was surrounded by rebels, leaving the boys no choice but to take up arms and become child-soldiers.

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Updated: 7-Jan-2008
Web View Count: 31719 viewsLast Web Update: 7-Jan-2008
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This Is Paradise!

October 15th, 2007  · Rachel

Rachel reviews "This is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood", an autobiography by Hyok Kang. The compelling autobiography provides a rare glimpse into life in North Korea, as told through the eyes of a child.

(Non-Fiction)Review of "This Is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood" an autobiography by Hyok Kang

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other international human rights organisations have asserted that North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, has one of the worst human rights records of any nation. Human Rights violations include suppression of Freedom of Expression, Movement, and Religion, as well as the use of arbitrary detention and imprisonment, inhumane prison conditions, torture and the death penalty. However, North Korea is a closed society, with very little information making it into, or out of, the country. Consequently, first-hand accounts of the living conditions and reality of life in this totalitarian state are shocking, especially when told by a child.

Hyok Kang spent the first thirteen years of his life in North Korea and he describes many aspects of life in the socialist state. He describes how the children are taught to worship the party leader, “Great Leader Kim Jong-Il” and his deceased farther Kim Il-Sung. How total respect of these two leaders is an expectation of all citizens. He describes the conditions inside penal colonies, work camps and how public executions are carried out, as well as how the citizens are encouraged to denounce their peers, generating a society built on distrust. Hyok Kang talks about the impact of the great famine of the 1990’s, which lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of citizens, while making others lie, steal, cheat, and even resort to cannibalism, in order to survive. Despite all the hardships of life in North Korea, the party propaganda is so pervasive that the majority of citizens still believe that, compared to the rest of the world, “This is Paradise.”

It is not until Hyok Kang and his family escape to China that the North Korean political brainwashing begins to unravel and he appreciates the relative luxuries of life, outside of North Korea. Even still, his family is not safe, as the threat of forced repatriation and execution are constant. After years of living in China as a fugitive, Hyok Kang undertakes the dangerous journey across North Korean sympathetic states, such as Cambodia and Vietnam, before finally making it to safety in South Korea, where he now struggles to put the past behind him.

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Updated: 17-Oct-2007
Web View Count: 28867 viewsLast Web Update: 17-Oct-2007
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Can You Keep A Secret?

September 20th, 2007  · Rachel

Rachel reviews "Can You Keep a Secret?", a novel written by Sophie Kinsella.

(Fiction)Review of "Can You Keep A Secret?" a novel by Sophie Kinsella

Emma Corrigan of Sophie Kinsella's "Can You Keep a Secret?" has lots of secrets. Some are big, some are small, some are more private thoughts censored from selected people, and some are absolute whoppers that nobody should know. But, in a state of panic, thinking that she is going to die as her plane violently plummets and jerks in turbulence, Emma reveals her secrets, big and small, to the man sitting in the seat next to her. " at work is the most disgusting stuff you've ever drunk, absolute poison"; "... [I] put 'Maths GCSE grade A on my CV, when I really got a C "; "... took me to all these jazz concerts and I pretended to enjoy them to be polite, so now he thinks I love jazz ...".

Fifty minutes later, when the plane is safely landed on the tarmac, Emma has revealed all her secrets about her colleagues, family, friends, love-life and dreams. While she is embarrassed that she has been blabbering nonstop about her knickers, G-spot and such, the following Monday she is mortified when she is confronted by the stranger from the plane: Jack Harper, the CEO and multi-millionaire of the company for which she works. As Jack spends the week working out of the office, Emma's disclosed secrets resurface into an assortment of awkward predicaments, as he has an excellent memory for the details.

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Updated: 20-Sep-2007
Web View Count: 17597 viewsLast Web Update: 20-Sep-2007