Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes is a powerful contemporary novel that I just could not put down.
The novel is about riches. We see the values that different characters have. The poorest people are those who value power, status and possessions, who don’t care who they trample on in order to get to the top.
In contrast, the richest people are those who invest in others. People are priceless. We witness some beautiful friendships between people who are materially poor but have the hugest hearts. A character lends another £20, making the difference between sinking or swimming. This reminded me of the widow’s mitre in the Bible.
The women in the story are all a blend of strong yet weak. As their friendships develop, they use their talents and skillsets to help and encourage each other. Alone they are weak, together they are strong.
We see the male characters who are paralysed by trying to do it alone. One is blinded by greed. Another is carrying a terrible burden of guilt, grief and hurt. It breaks the reader’s heart as we hear of the source of this pain.
Oh William by Elizabeth Strout is an epic contemporary read that consumes from the start. It is the third book in the Amgash series but can be read as a stand-alone.
The book is written in the first person as we learn about a life and a relationship with an ex-husband. Although their relationship ended years ago, their friendship remained and they support each other through all the seasons of life. William, in his later years, is very dependent on his ex-wife to keep his loneliness away.
We hear about the highs and lows of life. There is also a search for roots. We all want to know where we come from and how we fit in within the family.
A Legacy Of Love
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi is a powerful work of non-fiction that charts the author’s journey from neurosurgeon to cancer patient.
The book is beautifully and simply penned, as if the author were addressing a dear friend and not writing a book. The result is that by the end of the book, the reader feels like they have lost a dear friend.
There is a genuine feeling of loss – of what Paul Kalanithi could have achieved as a surgeon, of his daughter and wife having their years ahead without him. But there is also a feeling of celebration, too – Paul Kalanithi left behind a legacy of love – love in the hearts of his family, colleagues and patients.
The first half of the book introduces the reader to Paul Kalanithi the surgeon. He is not a surgeon without empathy, he treats every patient he meets as a person. “I had met her in a space where she was a person, instead of a problem to be solved.”
Paul Kalanithi recognized the need to connect with his patients. They needed his skill set as a surgeon and they needed his words as a fellow human being. “When there’s no place for the scalpel, words are the surgeon’s only tool.”