Banned Books #34 Habibi by Craig Thompson

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Welcome to April’s edition of Banned Books, where Beth and I read a banned book, once a month! This month was Habibi by Craig Thompson.

Habibi

Synopsis:

Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth—and frailty—of their connection.
 
At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.

Habibi by Craig Thompson
First published: 2011
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2015 (source)
Reasons: nudity, sexually explicit and unsuited for age group

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: As a fairly recent release (2011), there aren’t going to be many differences in my opinions as I don’t really believe attitudes have changed that much in the past six years or so. I’m finding expressing my opinions about this graphic novel quite difficult and apologies if my words aren’t coherent! I have such mixed views on this book, you see. The good, the bad and the downright ugly. Can I see why it was challenged/banned? Well, er….yes I kind of can. This is NOT to say that I agree with banning books, not in the slightest! I can however see why this book may have been controversial. There are a LOT of adult themes in the books that may not be suitable for younger readers mainly involving rape and graphic sexuality. Of course the book should be available to read but perhaps not in settings where much younger children have access to it.

CHRISSI: Like Beth, I don’t agree with banning books as I don’t think people should be ‘told’ what they can and cannot read. However, this book is one of those books that it’s easy to see why it’s challenged. It’s certainly controversial and it deals with many contentious issues. There’s some quite graphic sexuality, nudity and rape which isn’t suitable for younger readers in my opinion. I’m not sure if this book is intended to be for adults, but that’s certainly what it came across to me. A work of adult literature!

How about now?

BETH: See previous answer! So the reasons for banning/challenging this graphic novel are nudity which there is an abundance of. Seriously, every other page seems to have a naked character on it (probably 95% of them are female, I have to say which I’m not going to even get into but which made me slightly uncomfortable for my own feminist sensibilities). Then there’s the fact it’s sexually explicit and that is certainly the case. Naked bodies are not a bad thing don’t get me wrong but some of the sexual scenes which mainly involve sex that is non-consensual are incredibly graphic. Finally, it states that it’s unsuited for the age group. Here’s where I have a bit of confusion. I don’t know what age group it’s actually meant to be aimed at? Yes, it’s a graphic novel which may make you automatically think of younger readers, however the themes are so adult that it cannot be anything but an adult read.

CHRISSI: I can see why it’s challenged. I read a wide range of literature, but this one made me feel particularly uncomfortable and that’s quite something!

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: First of all, this book is absolutely beautiful. It’s a beast at about 700 pages long but don’t be intimidated by it’s size, I read it quite easily in two sittings in the space of a couple of hours. The illustrations are fantastic and some parts of the story I really enjoyed but other parts….I could just see why it may be offensive, especially to some cultures and religions. I didn’t really enjoy the stories within stories that talked about the similarities between Christianity and Islam as religions either which is strange as I normally like that sort of thing. In this novel however, it just made the narrative feel quite bumpy – if that’s the right word!

CHRISSI: Despite my uncomfortable feeling whilst reading this book, it didn’t take me long to read at all. I found it interesting in parts and offensive in others. It was a mixed bag for me, like Beth, but I’m leaning more towards not enjoying the reading experience.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: I’m going to say maybe as I think some people will love it, other people will not so much. It’s a Marmite kind of book!

CHRISSI: It’s not for me!- Others might enjoy it,  but it was too much for me.

The One-in-a-Million Boy

The One-in-a-Million Boy

How did I get it?:
I received it from my Mr B’s Reading Year subscription!

Synopsis:

The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don’t they teach you anything at school?

So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who’s been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she’s confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.

One Saturday, he doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father Quinn arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed. The boy’s mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that even at her age the world can surprise you, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find yourself again.

Thoughts:

I hadn’t heard of this book (somehow, I have no idea how!) before it was sent to me as part of my reading year birthday present from my Mum and sister. I’m glad I got the chance to read it though. It’s not one that will particularly stand out for me, but it was a decent read and I’m pleased I read it.

The One-in-a-Million Boy centres around a boy scout who was assigned to help an older lady. The older lady in question is 104 year old Ona Vitkus. Ona has rejected so many boy scouts as not good enough but she almost immediately connecting with ‘the boy’. He’s different compared to others his age. Ona and ‘the boy’ start to get to know each other through tea and biscuits. ‘The boy’ asks if he can ask her some questions and Ona starts to reveal more about her life. ‘The boy’ is obsessed with the Guinness Book Of Records. They discuss things that can get you into the book and hatch a plan to get Ona into the book. This gives Ona a new lease of life. One day, ‘the boy’ doesn’t turn up at work and Ona feels let down, like she was with the other boy scouts. However, his father Quinn turns up in his place and continues his son’s chores.

I loved how this book had so many things going on, but at the same time it didn’t feel rushed or overly crammed with information. It’s about family. It’s about a woman’s incredibly long life. There’s sadness, but there’s hope as well. It really is a mixed bag. It has some absolutely fantastic characters who you immediately take to and want things to turn out for them all.

I enjoyed Monica Wood’s writing style. I found this book incredibly easy to read and appreciated the different formats and points of view involved.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A touching read!

Beware That Girl

Beware That Girl

How did I get it?:
Sent to me via Hot Key Books/Bonnier, in return for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Kate O’Brien has always been known as the scholarship kid, running away from a terrible past and overcoming obstacles, some more sinister than others. She’s determined to make a better life for herself. She deserves it. And at the elite Waverly school, Kate is willing to do whatever it takes to climb the social ladder and land her spot at Yale.

There’s one girl in particular that catches Kate’s eye. Olivia Michelle Sumner, all born blonde and rich and just messed up enough for Kate to latch on to. As for Olivia, she’s a damaged girl, looking to be mended. She finds something promising in Kate. A study buddy. A best friend. A sister she never had. But even a vulnerable girl like Olivia has her own dark past to contend with.

When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration, he manages to woo the whole student body, paying particular attention to Olivia – an affair she very much wants to keep to herself, especially from Kate. And as a man who knows just how to get what he wants, Kate realises that Mark poses a huge threat, in more ways than she is willing to admit.

A deeply twisted YA novel that will have you guessing until the very last line.

Thoughts:

This book immediately caught my eye, as I’m really into YA and specifically dark YA reads. Beware That Girl wasn’t exactly what I expected. I wanted it to be more thrilling and twisted than it was, but that’s perhaps looking at it from an adult perspective.

Beware That Girl centres around two girls Kate and Olivia. Kate has has a horrific upbringing and is now trying to make her way in the world. She’s had plenty of scholarships and is now socialising amongst the elite to hopefully fast track her way to Yale. Her dream. Kate befriends Olivia, who is incredibly rich but very damaged. Both girls have secrets they’re hiding. Mark Redkin joins the staff at their school and is incredibly charming. He ‘befriends’ staff and children. Olivia is absolutely besotted with him and their relationship becomes another secret to hide. Kate also finds out that Mark is a threat to her secrets. The story is full of secrets galore.

If you’re into a Gossip Girl vibe then I think you might enjoy this book. It’s totally got that spoilt rich kid with lots of drama in it. There’s a lot of calculating moves and some back-stabbing. The writing itself is good but I wished for some more character development. As I mentioned, this genre is usually my type of thing which is why I totally wanted to pick up a copy. I did enjoy reading this book and it didn’t take me long to read, but I was left feeling underwhelmed by the story as a whole.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! – I don’t think this book will appeal to everyone, but I think it’s worth trying, especially if you’re into Gossip Girl. 

It kept me reading, but isn’t a story that will stick with me for a long time!

 

Fairy Tale Friday- The Snail and The Rose Tree

This week’s fairy tale was a very short story about a snail and a rose tree. The basic premise of the story is that the snail makes a decision to stay inside his house instead of giving himself to the world. The snail believes that is what the rose tree/bush does when it opens up and blossoms. It gives a part of itself to the outside world to enjoy. The snail wants to curl up and hide itself from the world. Don’t we all, sometimes?

Next Fairy Tale- She Was Good For Nothing

The Book Collector

The Book Collector

How did I get it?:
Beth and I bought it from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

Synopsis:

Alice Thompson’s new novel is a gothic story of book collecting, mutilation and madness. Violet is obsessed with the books of fairy tales her husband acquires, but her growing delusions see her confined in an asylum. As she recovers and is released a terrifying series of events is unleashed.

Thoughts:

Beth and I were recommended this book during our reading spa at Mr B’s Emporium in the summer last year. Beth read it and absolutely adored it, but she wasn’t sure if I would like it. It’s an odd book, a really odd book and she wasn’t sure if it was just a little too out there for me. However, I thought it was brilliant. Oddly brilliant, but still!

It centres around Violet who was 19 years old and an orphan when she meets Lord Archie Murray. They fall for each other quickly. Soon, Violet and Archie are married and they have a son called Felix. Archie is an incredibly controlling man who appears to be hiding something. Archie is obsessed with his book collection, especially a book of fairy tales that he keeps hidden away. Violet is curious to know why he hides it away. What is it about the book? Violet is struggling with the change in her life after giving birth to Felix. Violet starts to hallucinate and harms Felix whilst trying to protect him from ‘creatures’ that are crawling on him. As a result of this, Violet is locked up in an asylum. Violet meets some other women who believe there’s something odd about them all staying at the asylum. Violet begins to question everything.

This book really is quite creepy. It’s incredibly atmospheric and you find yourself questioning who is stable. The characters all seem unhinged in one way or another. Then there’s the inclusion of the character Clara… well, she certainly stirred up the story! The story becomes mysterious as some of the women in the asylum go missing. Then, of course, there’s the fairy tales that run throughout the whole story. There’s a link between them, but I won’t spoil it.

The Book Collector is a short read but it certainly packs a lot of punches throughout it. It’s compelling, disturbing but incredibly easy to read!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I was surprised by this book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did!

This Week In Books #61

I am joining in with the lovely Lipsy from Lipsy’s Lost and Found’s feature which highlights our week in books. I shall be sharing what I’m reading now, then and next! I won’t be showcasing my new books as I do that on a Saturday. I’m really excited by this feature as I loved sharing my recent reads. My book reviews published on my blog are often WAY behind what I’m actually reading, so this is a good feature to keep you up to date!

Click on the book to get to Goodreads!

The Sudden Appearance of Hope Habibi Countless

NOWThe Sudden Appearance Of HopeClaire North– I have just started this book which was recommended to me and sent to me as part of my Mr B’s Reading Year Subscription. I’m intrigued to see what I make of it as I wasn’t that blown away by the author’s debut, but I’m always willing to try another book by the author!

THEN- HabibiCraig Thompson– I finished this graphic novel yesterday. It’s a beast of a book at over 600 pages and it’s not necessarily an ‘easy’ read. It tells the story of refugee slaves bound together. There are some incredibly dark moments within the story. Very dark moments. It is one of our Banned Books that my sister and I review on the last Monday of a month, so please come back for our review if you’re interested.

NEXTCountlessKaren Gregory– I’m very intrigued to read this book which centres around mental health. I’m always intrigued by books that touch on this subject.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to leave a link or let me know in the comments below! Happy Reading! 🙂

Top Ten Things That Will Instantly Make Me Read A Book

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s list are the Top Ten things that make us want to read a book!

  1. Dance- anything dance related on the cover or mentioned then it’s immediately on my TBR.
  2. Light, pastel colours always draw my eye.
  3. A promise of it being a psychological thriller.
  4. Pretty page edges. Hey, I’m shallow!
  5. Mental health- if a book is about mental health I’m instantly intrigued.
  6. Strong female lead.
  7. Tudor England.
  8. The author- some I just buy without a second thought.
  9. First person narrative.
  10. World War II

What are some things that make you pick up a book? Let me know! Feel free to leave a link to your post and I’ll stop by!