Three great graphic novels – The Alchemist, The Good Earth, The Kite Runner

Title: The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel, Author: Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Finished 9-21-18, rating 4/5, graphic novel, 208 pages, pub. 1996

Graphic novel adapted by Derek Ruiz and illustrated by Daniel Sampere.

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found.

The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories can, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams.  from Goodreads

I’ve always wanted to read The Alchemist and decided to give the graphic novel a try first. I was concerned when I saw the depictions of women in the first few pages.

Some questionably sexual panels from The Alchemist graphic novel

But I soldiered on and luckily the illustrator’s dream girls didn’t last past a few pages.  Still…  Anyway, I liked this parable adventure story and enjoyed it for what it was.  It didn’t change my life or world-view, but it was a quick enjoyable story of a boy who was told that dreams can become reality if you believe.  I probably won’t read the original, but am glad I know the story of this modern classic.


The Good EarthThe Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Finished 9-27-18, 4/5 stars, graphic novel, 144 pages, pub. 2017

Graphic novel adapted and illustrated by Nick Bertozzi

Pearl Buck’s 1931 Pulitzer Prize–winning classic about the rise and fall of Chinese villagers before World War I comes to life in this graphic novel by Nick Bertozzi.

In The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck paints an indelible portrait of China in the 1920s, when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings. This story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-Lan is must reading to fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during the last century.  from Goodreads

I was never all that interested in reading the classic novel, but I’m so glad I gave this a chance because I really enjoyed it.  The monochromatic illustrations (pinks and blues with the occasional red) worked and set a mood.  I liked Wang Lung, until I didn’t and then I really didn’t.  His tireless wife, O-Lan, one of the more sympathetic characters I’ve come across in a while.  My biggest complaint was that nowhere did it say that this was part one of a trilogy, so there was no ending. I will most likely pick up the next book to see what happens.


Title: The Kite Runner Graphic Novel, Author: Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Finished 9-26-18, 4/5, graphic novel, 132 pages, pub. 2011

Illustrated by Fabio Celoni and Mirka Andolfo. Adapted by Tommaso Valsecchi

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.   from Goodreads

This book was heartbreaking and I can only imagine that the novel is so much more so.  I don’t think I could willingly bring that much pain into my life right now, so I’m glad that I read the graphic novel. Children exposed to horrors they can’t understand.  Ultimately, it is a story friendship with the lesson of not waiting to mend your fences.

 

 

 

Two memoirs you could safely skip – Everything Happens For a Reason & Pedigree

Title: Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved, Author: Kate BowlerEverything Happens For A Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved. Finished 9-15-18, rating 3/5, memoir, 178 pages, pub. 2018

Thirty-five-year-old Kate Bowler was a professor at the school of divinity at Duke, and had finally had a baby with her childhood sweetheart after years of trying, when she began to feel jabbing pains in her stomach. She lost thirty pounds, chugged antacid, and visited doctors for three months before she was finally diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.

As she navigates the aftermath of her diagnosis, Kate pulls the reader deeply into her life, which is populated with a colorful, often hilarious collection of friends, pastors, parents, and doctors, and shares her laser-sharp reflections on faith, friendship, love, and death. She wonders why suffering makes her feel like a loser and explores the burden of positivity. Trying to relish the time she still has with her son and husband, she realizes she must change her habit of skipping to the end and planning the next move. A historian of the “American prosperity gospel”–the creed of the mega-churches that promises believers a cure for tragedy, if they just want it badly enough–Bowler finds that, in the wake of her diagnosis, she craves these same “outrageous certainties.” She wants to know why it’s so hard to surrender control over that which you have no control. She contends with the terrifying fact that, even for her husband and child, she is not the lynchpin of existence, and that even without her, life will go on.   from Goodreads

I won’t waste too much time with a description of the book because you can read that above.  What I will say is that I’m surprised that this slim memoir was nominated for a Goodreads award this year.  I don’t really get it.  I thought the book was all over the place touching on one thing and then flitting on to something else, leaving me with questions (although they were few because I just didn’t care that much).  I’m glad she survived Stage IV cancer, because as a mother of a young child I cry when I read stories of mothers who have died way too early and leave children behind.

Title: Pedigree: A Memoir, Author: Patrick ModianoPedigree: A Memoir. Finished 9-29-18, rating 3.25/5, memoir, 130 pages, pub. 2015

In this rare glimpse into the life of Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano, the author takes up his pen to tell his personal story. He addresses his early years—shadowy times in postwar Paris that haunt his memory and have inspired his world-cherished body of fiction. In the spare, absorbing, and sometimes dreamlike prose that translator Mark Polizzotti captures unerringly, Modiano offers a memoir of his first twenty-one years.  a personal exploration and a luminous portrait of a world gone by.

Pedigree sheds light on the childhood and adolescence that Modiano explores in Suspended Sentences, Dora Bruder, and other novels. In this work he re-creates the louche, unstable, colorful world of his parents under the German Occupation; his childhood in a household of circus performers and gangsters; and his formative friendship with the writer Raymond Queneau. While acknowledging that memory is never assured, Modiano recalls with painful clarity the most haunting moments of his early life, such as the death of his ten-year-old brother.    from Goodreads

I chose to read this not because I knew the author, but because it was short and I knew I could finish it in a day.  I’m not going to lie, if it hadn’t been so short there is no way I would have finished it.  It was both fascinating and tedious.  His parents were…colorful makes their neglect too superficial, as humans they were colorful, as parents they were just awful.  But somehow their self absorption made for great fodder for Modiano in his work and his memoir.

 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Title: A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet Series #1), Author: Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time.  Finished 9-10-18, rating 3.5/5, children’s classic, 218 pages, pub, 1962

 It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?   from Goodreads

I chose this childhood favorite for a reread because I needed to finish a book in a day and it fit in with my classics club challenge.  I am also interested in the movie but wanted to reacquaint myself with the book again.  I found that I barely remembered a thing.  Truly.  Charles Wallace felt familiar to me as did Meg, but the actual story?  I had no recollection.

First, I should say from the outset that this book felt very dated.  That’s not necessarily bad, but I have to set that aside to really address the story. Meg’s father has been missing for years and everyone in town assumed he ran off with someone, leaving his wife and kids to fend for themselves.  But Meg, of the impatient temper, learns that he’s really stuck in another dimension and only she and her brother and new friend Calvin have any hope of saving him.  Mrs. Wotsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which whisk the three off to save not only Meg’s father, but the whole world.  No pressure.  A classic good vs. evil story with lots of magic thrown in.  It was exciting.

It’s a great first introduction into the sci-fi/dystopia world and best suited for a child.  I think this would be fun to read with Gage.  I know I read more in this series, but I remember just as little as I did with this one.  Maybe if Gage likes it we’ll continue on together.  I’m glad I reread it and am looking forward to seeing how the movie modernized it.

This was my 24th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.