The Testaments- Seeds of disaster

Per Ardua Cum Estrus

But among these bloody fingerprints are those made by ourselves, and these can’t be wiped away so easily. Over the years I’ve buried a lot of bones; now I’m inclined to dig them up again-if only for your edification, my unknown reader.

— The Ardua Hall Hollograph

Under his Eye, I got to finish the sequel of The Handmaid’s Tale after nights spent in Gilead! For those of you who are not familiar with the fictional universe of the novel, I highly recommend to read the first novel, as it’s an important piece of art in world literature and I’m sure you will not regret to invest time in such an intense book. Indeed, intensity is a word that describes Margaret Atwood’s work and it can have a physical effect on its readers (chills, insomnia and the urge to keep turning and turning the pages). Also, it builds a soundproof bubble around, so no one can bother your read- believe me, I lost track of time, space and my parents for a while.

Coming back to the book itself,the story from The Testaments is told from three different perspectives that intertwine at some point in history: The Ardua Hall Holograph and Witness Testimonies 369 A and 369 B. Each storyteller adds an insight detail to the bigger picture of the society with which we got acquainted in the first novel, Gilead. Now, handmaids are not the focus and June/Offred is not even part of it. There are some hints referring to a handmaid who escaped from Gilead with her child, but we never learn if she was our strong June or not. However, we get to learn more about the life of other women in a society where they are oppressed and ruled by men serving a cruel God: daughters and aunts. This way, we discover that Gilead is in fact a fruit that looks flawless on the outside and is completely rotten inside. Self-destruction is the path to its ruin. Page by page, we see it getting nearer and seeds of disaster are planted everywhere, ready to grow and flourish.

Along the way, every chapter comes with a new surprise and old “friends” make their appearance as well. The story flows nicely and it’s impossible to stop reading sometimes, but there are parts where everything is rushed towards the end. I’m glad it is different from the series, as I couldn’t watch thoroughly because I lost my interest. This book has been like a remedy and a satisfying answer for the fall of Gilead we’ve all been wondering about.

All the bits about life (if we can call it that) in this fictional prison frightened me and gave me chills, even though it’s almost impossible for a society to reach a dystopian totalitarianism like this. It gives you a lot of questions and ideas to take in consideration, it makes you imagine yourself in the situation of those women who lived after imaginary rules created by people who didn’t value them at all or who didn’t even consider them human beings. You start to think of what survival and sacrifice mean, if it’s worth losing your identity (becoming a piece in a huge mad puzzle) or keeping it and how. And if you did, would it matter? For some people, under the right mask, it would.

For those of you who have read the novel, here is a review that contains spoilers. Praised be, I warned you !


Well, I couldn’t hold it in me for long: she is back!

Aunt Lydia is back, not June, and that makes me really happy, as our favorite aunt turned out to be a complex and mysterious character, not just the mean, heartless woman in the series. The brain behind the greatest plans of that system, Aunt Lydia impressed me with her cold blood, toughness, intelligence and wit, but also the power she had gained. She was by far the best character, being followed by Agnes and Nicole, whom I disliked to the end of the book.

I was really curios (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) about how it all started and the role the aunts have played in the making of Gilead. Also, Agnes brings some light in the life of a young girl whose only holy task in the world is to marry and have children-nothing new under the sun after all. The Vidala School, the marriage arrangements, the secret plans and murders- they were all necessary for completing a spherical image of that reality. Agnes’ feelings of despair felt genuine and made me emphasize with her character.

Well, Baby Nicole is alive and grown up. Her story seemed a little childish, especially when she was living with her sister and Becka , because she was younger and hadn’t experienced the rough years in Gilead. I expected her to be part of this novel, but I suspected Agnes to be her sister at the middle, it hadn’t been very obvious. I loved that the three points of view manage to crystallize and form a heartbreaking narrative. The end containing Lydia’s last words were moving, but also intriguing: she will die for being a traitor of Gilead, but was she ever a traitor of her own beliefs?

I believe that the author gave us the sequel we all expected, answered our questions and rose others, touching some profound cords in every reader’s soul.

MYTHOS and the art of storytelling

“Greeks did not grovel before their gods. They were aware of their vain need to be supplicated and venerated, but they believed men were their equal.”

Mythos by Stephen Fry

I passed the blue covers of Stephen Fry‘s Mythos each time I went to a bookstore. Maybe because of its famous author or maybe because is an excellent read, this book enjoyed a lot of attention from the public. It is needless to say that between the covers, the most fascinating stories in history are once again brought to life by one of the best storytellers of our times.

As a great fan of (Greek) mythology, I am very excited by any book that covers this subject. One of my favorites as a child was the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, a wonderful introduction to this mythic world for both children, teens and adults. In fact, anything that has gods, dragons, monsters, heroes and magic is a win and a very important part of our culture. It was an obvious choice to try this new take on mythology that is Mythos.

The way in which Gods are portrayed in this book never disappoints. I liked that the author finds a lighter and a darker side for each immortal character, which makes them more approachable and closer to humans. As a talented storyteller, Fry takes us on a beautiful journey and makes it very difficult to even take a break. I find it more and more challenging for writers to keep their readers focused and many don’t succeed these days, but this is not the case. On the contrary, he even manages to create an addiction that makes us come back for more.

Even though the stories in Mythos are not new, the way Stephen Fry uses his humour and passion for Greek culture is truly impressing. It is a very thorough account of Ancient Greece and its myths, full of intricate details and at times it seems difficult to remember all the names, but some definitely stick.

Talking about names, Stephen Fry did a very interesting thing in his book: whenever he introduces a character to the plot, he includes a footnote on how the name of the character inspired words we still use today. One example, for instance, is “hermetically sealed”, which comes from the god Hermes. I will not say more, you have to discover the beauty of words’ origins by yourselves. I promise, you’ll have a big “Ohhhh” moment when you read about Electra or Melissa. And wait till you read about the constellations!

Why should we read mythology? I mean, there are other good stories as well, some that were invented this century. Why go back as far as Ancient Greece?

I’m not a specialist to find an answer, but it might have to do with the fact that stories play an important part in our lives since we are born and until we die. And everything started from mythology. It is the base on which poets, bards and writers built their artworks. Myths contain all the major literary themes about which we write to this day, such as love and death. Only the characters are slightly different because of their immortality and supernatural powers. Nevertheless, on the inside they remain the same.

The gods are flawed, just like humans. They are happy, sad, maddened, excited, infuriated and many times they fall prey to their feelings instead of following reason. Therefore, some situations described in the myths do not make sense at all. However, life doesn’t either. And people trying to face their destinies and their gods is a defining characteristic of humankind. Is something we still do today, even if we do not acknowledge it. We keep finding ourselves in these patterns.

One way or another, we are all Sisyphus trying to reach the peak.

This retelling of the myths is also available as an audiobook narrated by Stephen Fry himself. It is followed by Heroes and Troy, but as the author suggests, one can read either of the volumes without reading the others before. Enjoy!

Poetry in the sun

After an endless grey winter, the sun is more than welcome, and I believe we all took the chance to warm our faces and souls for a couple of hours here in Paris. Now, what would be a warm afternoon without a book to lose your thoughts in? Nothing! For this week I’ve chosen Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, a source of joy and gratitude.

The last months came with some accomplishments, but the most important one is that I’ve started reading poetry, especially the works of American writers. Like any other student who is new to this subject, I’ve started with Walt Whitman, the Father of American poetry. Leaves of Grass is a volume that inspires peacefulness and demands to be read with patience. It brings you closer to nature and to yourself. In this celebration of life in all its beautiful forms, the human body is radiant, a source of energy that keeps together and animates the world. The poet captures the human soul like no one other and helps creating an American literature and culture at the same time.

In a world in which nothing is going the right way, Whitman’s poetry is like a river that playfully follows his way through the young woods. In moments when it’s hard to find the inner strength to cope, his words are there to take you to the prairies, to a new world where everything is possible and people, as leaves of grass, thrive.

The sun is shining and it’s hard to understand the words on the page which reflects the light. Time stops. Birds are singing, calling for spring. And Walt Whitman wrote:

Sometimes with one I love I fill myself with rage for fear I effuse unreturn’d love, 
But now I think there is no unreturn’d love, the pay is certain one way or another 
(I loved a certain person ardently and my love was not return’d, 
Yet out of that I have written these songs).

Sometimes with One I Love by Walt Whitman

Literary Adventures of 2020

2020, it’s enough! Let’s move on!

That’s how I feel on this last day of an extremely challenging year. No matter how many cups of relaxing tea I’ve been drinking, the stress and anxiety were real. I cannot lie, some beautiful things happened as well, but it was very difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t get me wrong: I know that nothing will magically change when the clock hits midnight, but I think that we have changed a lot along this year. And books played an important role in this process.

When days were depressing or boring I enjoyed taking a break and traveling to another world of words through books. Therefore, here is a list with the best “trips” taken in 2020:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

One of the best books I read in the last few years, so beautiful that even after a year I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Two stories that couldn’t be more different but which find unexpected ways to intertwine in the context of WWII. The characters- two brave children- and their incredible fates will move even the coldest hearts.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

For those of you who have’t read anything by Donna Tartt, you’d better hurry to the nearest bookshop. She is one of the most talented contemporary writers and her books clearly deserve attention. The Secret History is the first one I read and finished in 3 days, despite its huge number of pages. Her words simply float to your mind. You cannot stop reading this book: in a way it carries that dark academia atmosphere, in another it presents characters that captivate and shock. However, due to the size of the novel, you might not feel your hands after a while, so the Kindle version is a smart option.

Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo

This novel had a huge influence on me while I was reading it. I couldn’t get out of that world even when the covers were firmly closed. Fate, tragedy, love, beautiful architecture- they all bring to life an incredible book. With Hugo’s descriptions, the cathedral seemed to breath, to take part in the story, to be the most important character. In one word: a masterpiece.

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

I fell in love with Sylvia Plath’s books after reading The Bell Jar, but this collection of poems is very special for me. In fact, I believe that her poetry is the only one that truly spoke to me. I am not a poetry aficionado; nevertheless, this book seems to be a lifelong companion.

Sula by Toni Morrison

A friend of mine recommended Sula, but I had a hard time finding it. When I saw it in my university’s library, I knew it would make a great read. It is the first book I’ve read by this author and it surpassed all my expectations. A story about friendship and not only, even better than the one in My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, which was also great.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I must admit, it’s a bit weird that I read two huge books by Donna Tartt this year, but I can’t help it. They are so captivating! In this novel, the focus is on this surprising painting, the Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius and the way it decides the life of a young boy, Theo Decker. The story is really fascinating, even though it is altered with long descriptive moments. Some may say that these descriptions tend to be boring (some do). In my opinion, they bring that special element which charms the reader. I recommend the movie as well, even though it is not as impressing as the novel.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

I haven’t finish the novel yet; still, I’m glad that I can enjoy it in 2021 as well. It’s a great literary start. This book confirms the fact that nothing compares to Russian literature. It is so profound and it penetrates the human soul, unveiling all its secrets. Besides the tragic love story, Anna Karenina makes you ponder and question the nature of one’s heart, what love means, how it can affect one’s life.

One of my all time favorites.

If you want to see the story from a different point of view, I recommend Anna K. by Jenny Lee, a book that brings a contemporary twist to the best love story ever.

2020 it’s almost over and it’s time to figure out what to read next year.

Let’s hope for the best!

Save the Independent Bookshops

Last night, the President of France announced a new lockdown. We all kind of expected it. As I believe it is a necessary measure during these tough times, I didn’t panic or get upset. I continued whatever one does on a usual night.

This morning my social media feed threw at me some bad news: Shakespeare&Co, my favorite bookshop and place in the entire world, is struggling. The sales have been heavily affected by the pandemic and it is a phenomenon which many bookshops have to face. Therefore, they were calling for us, their readers and book lovers, to come and choose something from their online store or from their location.

Now, for those of you who don’t know me in person, there are many things in this life that I like, but very few that I love: books and animals. I go to a bookshop every time I feel sad and dejected. Needless to say that I’m the happiest person in the world when I enter a bookshop.

For me, reading this sad letter from a community so dear to my heart… it felt like daggers in my heart. Not to mention what a bad morning it has created.

As I said before, Shakespeare&Co are not the only ones affected. Everywhere in this beautiful world bookshops are surviving, not thriving as they should, and some have to close their doors until better times. The New York Times published in a recent article that every week, one American Independent Bookshop had to be closed. IT IS AWFUL! Strand Book Store, a place with great history and loved by those who have visited it, made an appeal to all its customers and the results were amazing: people waited in line at the entrance, the site crashed due to many orders. A small help from every bookworm may save the bookshops.

However, Shakespeare&Co and the Strand are known worldwide. People from different countries have visited them along the years. Their social media accounts prove to be effective and help them a lot. But what about the small bookshops, less known, but still very special? What about those places were you know the exact order of the shelves, the corner were you find the new books? What about the beautiful conversations about books and recommendations with the owner? What about the book launches? Should all of these disappear?

In this period, bookshops need our help! Please go to your dearest bookshop’s online store or location (protect yourself!) and show your support.

Today is my last day of absolute freedom for a month. I know how I am going to spend it: I will support a bookshop. What about you?

As my heart is divided between the bookshops from France and the ones from Romania, here are some of my favorites:



Very Short Introductions- Tiny doors to knowledge

I love to have a book with me at any time. While commuting, between classes or when I find a nice spot in a park- those are all great occasions to read some pages. If you are a person who simply doesn’t leave the house without a book, then this collection might catch your attention.

The Very Short Introductions have a special place in my heart and in my library, as they always come in handy and each and every one of them is a delightful read. With a pocket format, you can sneak them in your bag, purse, jacket or jeans!

The principle behind this collection is very simple: each tiny book is based on a subject, like Astrophysics or Classics or Climate Change or Genetics or… Well, it’s quite hard to mention all of them, as there are more than 607 topics available. Basically, you can find a book on EVERY subject you could think of. A bit overwhelming, isn’t it? 🙂

As their titles say, they are only introductions to very broad topics, but still they are very detailed and throughout the text, the writers are trying to lead you to further researching or reading. Some come with recommandations at the end, which is a plus.

They are all written by experts in those fields, most of them from top universities around the world. These are serious texts, so not quite an “easy read”, but this depends on the topic or author. They are short, under 200 pages, no way you could get bored.

The best part about The Very Short Introductions is that you have the chance to taste from many interesting subjects and discover what you like and then find more about it. They are well-written and not tiring, if you want to read them after a busy day at work.

Until now, I have read 3 of them, on very different topics: Minerals, Comparative Literature and the Tudors. I enjoyed them all! The last two were excellent and very useful for my British history and literature classes. Some of the authors from my textbooks have written VSI as well, like in the case of The Tudors book. It definitely was an advantage to read it before my exam.

And don’t remind me about the covers: they are simply gorgeous, in so many colours!

I truly hope that you will find one that will suit your style and interests!

Natură, carte și film

După o perioadă lungă de carantină și anxietate am decis să ies puțin în natură. Cu această ocazie, am făcut drumeții și m-am plimbat prin pădure, urmărind păsări sau admirănd florile delicate. În privința lecturilor, am ales cărți care să mă poarte în locuri noi, să îmi dezvăluie câte puțin din impresionantul spectacol al naturii. De asemenea, mi-am redescoperit gustul pentru documentare.

Am selectat câteva cărți și filme care se concentrează atât pe studiul naturii, dar și pe problemele ecologice care ar trebui să ne preocupe mai mult, având în vedere prin câte schimbări trece lumea noastră în fiecare zi.

Autobiografii și memorii

  1. Autobiografia lui Charles Darwin– Naturalistul își prezintă viața și pasiunile pornind de la perioada copilăriei, relatând despre expediția pe vasul Beagle pentru a cartografia coasta Americii de Sud și despre cercetările sale ce au dus la formarea teoriei evoluționiste.
  2. Walden sau Viața în pădure de Henry David Thoreau– Mai degrabă un eseu filosofic, Walden susține că viața trebuie trăită simplu, în natură, pentru oameni fiind de ajuns să trăiască din ceea ce le oferă pământul strict pentru ei, fără a abuza de el. Având la bază experiența reală a autorului, care a construit o casă pe malul lacului Walden și a trăit doi ani, două luni și două zile în liniștea naturii, cartea ne face să ne gândim la lucrurile după care alergăm în viață și de care, până la urmă, nu avem nevoie.
  3. Familia mea și alte animale de Gerald Durrell– Acest roman, de altfel unul dintre preferatele mele, surprinde viața unei familii de englezi ce decide să părăsească mohorâta țară și să înceapă o viață nouă pe una dintre cele mai frumoase insule grecești, Corfu. Pe lângă expedițiile tânărului Gerry pe dealurile insulei, în căutare de animale pe care să le studieze și mai ales să le adopte, viața familiei nu e deloc una liniștită, întrucât fiecare membru al familiei are un caracter deosebit și procesul de adaptare este unul complicat, dar foarte amuzant. Cu fiecare pagină ai impresia că te afli prin livezile de măslini sau pe plajă, că trăiești experiența descoperirii Corfului în același timp cu personajul. Familia mea și alte animale face parte dintr-o trilogie, al doilea volum, Păsări, lighioane, rubedenii, fiind și el tradus la editura ART. Despre al treilea, The Garden of the Gods, nu știu dacă a fost deja tradus în română.
  4. Lumea tăcerii de Jacques-Yves Cousteau– Alături de Émile Gagnan, Cousteau a fost unul dintre creatorii primului dispozitiv de scufundări, Aqua-Lung. În această carte sunt surprinse primele scufundări într-o lume care și astăzi rămâne plină de secrete.
  5. Endurance. Incredibila călătorie a lui Shackleton de Alfred Lansing– O încercare eșuată de a parcurge continentul Antarctatica. Vasul Endurance blocat de gheață. Nevoia de supraviețuire. Trosnetul neîntrerupt al banchizei. Albul neiertător. O carte intensă, bazată pe jurnalele și datele membrilor echipajului care au reușit să reziste acestei expediții.

Documentare și seriale

The Durrells

Adaptarea Trilogiei Corfului este sub forma unui serial amuzant, pentru întreaga familie. Personajele sunt foarte bine portretizate, iar priveliștile te lasă fără cuvinte. Nu mai spun despre animalele simpatice:) Serialul poate fi vizionat pe HBO Go.

Our Planet

Unul dintre cele mai frumoase documentare pe care le-am văzut vreodată, Our Planet (poate fi găsit pe Netflix) este de fapt un serial cu mai multe episoade care prezintă diferite ecosisteme, precum oceanele și mările, pădurile sau zonele cu apă dulce. Imaginile surprinse pe parcursul a 4 ani de filmări (pentru mai multe detalii există și Our Planet: Behind the Scenes) sunt incredibile și foarte emoționante, pentru că ne demonstrează cât de grav sunt afectate unele zone ale globului și cum sunt amenințate diferite specii. Ce m-a captivat este accentul pus pe conexiunea fiecărei viețuitoare cu mediul în care trăiește, cum anumite plante depind de animale pentru a supraviețui și viceversa. Fiecare episod este cu adevărat o călătorie superbă.

Dancing with the birds

Într-un ton mai vesel, acest documentar pune sub lumina reflectoarelor dansurile de împerechere la păsări și felurile ingenioase prin care masculii încearcă să atragă femelele. Deși unele păsări sunt mai excentrice, trebuie să le apreciem creativitatea. Este un film relaxant, amuzant și te poate binedispune în orice moment. Și acest documentar este pe Netflix.

Down to Earth

Acest serial-documentar (tot de pe Netflix) propune o călătorie în mai multe țări pentru a descoperi soluții pentru diversele probleme cu care planeta se confruntă, precum poluarea și nu numai. Am aflat lucruri noi, care mi-au dat speranța că încă nu este prea târziu să luăm atitudine și să schimbăm ceva. Spre exemplu, faptul că Islanda depinde 100% de energie regenerabilă spune că putem urma toți o cale mai bună.

Oricât de grea sau nefericită ar fi o zi, există mereu căi de a trece peste. Una dintre ele poate fi întoarcerea în natură.

Books in Time of Need

“It’s not what the world holds for you, it is what you bring to it. ”

-Anne with an E

This year came with a lot of unexpected situations, one more disturbing than the other. In March, we are all in quarantine (excepting those who are continuously fighting the virus and trying to save as many lives as possible- we are very grateful for your help) , so this amount of spare time can’t go unnoticed.

I am currently reading The Shining by Stephen King and well… I don’t see it as a match for the two weeks I am going to spend in isolation with my parents. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a brilliant book! The thing is I kinda know where my dad is hiding the axe…

I’ll leave the scary Overlook hotel aside and turn my attention to books that have an even more dramatic subject: women.

I have never had the proper chance to get into classic English literature, but I think it’s time for it. However, I couldn’t ignore the great French female writers, so I chose some of their works too. Therefore, I made a list with some titles that might inspire you:

  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë – IT’S A MUST!
  • Any novel by Jane Austen- I started Sense and Sensibility and I almost cried my eyes out
  • Lady Susan, Jane Austen- came across this title while watching a series, it’s considered a very good feminist work
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë- known as one of the first sustained feminist novels, her second and last novel
  • Memoires d’Hadrien, Marguerite Yourcenar- fantastic!
  • IndianaFrançois le Champi, George Sand
  • Anne of Green Gables,  L.M. Montgomery- my favorite so far, even though some see it as a children book (so what?)

Sometimes, we might not be in the mood for reading and that’s fine. Luckily, there are some films and TV series that will definitely cheer you up:

  • Anne with an E – you will see what makes it so special
  • The Marvelous Mrs Maisel– you will fall from your couch from laughing
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society– books can save people in the most surprising moments

These female characters inspire and motivate me every day. They make me see that it is possible to get past any obstacle or problem if you have love. If you are ready to give your love to others, sometime with nothing in return. It takes a lot of courage and strength for that as well.


Don’t forget, there is always the audio book alternative if you like it or want to try something new. For those who love vintage stuff, audio books come in vinyls too, but I think an app should do the trick.

Enjoy your time alone, admire this world and it’s beauty- from inside for now, it’s safer- and try to stay optimistic!

High School or being a teen

Experience is everything. As Forrest Gump used to say, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”. It’s a good principle even when it comes to books.

Trying different reads is the only way to find out what you like (autobiographies for example) and what you want to avoid (personal development in my case). Yeah, you might come across some strange books, but there are treasures in the wild lands of bookshelves too.

I didn’t choose High School by Tegan and Sara Quin, but my mom and the nice lady from Amazon Books did. And they were right! It definitely was a nice surprise, especially because it’s a true story about music, love and discovering who you are.

First thing first, Tegan and Sara are twin sisters, singers, composers and writers and it turns out they have an interesting music career together. Their book presents their life during high school and it’s composed of chapters written from the perspective of one sister at a time. Even though they look very much alike, their style is different and you can easily tell who wrote what after some pages. Of course, can’t forget about the photos from their childhood and the ones from now.

I had had no idea who they were until I read their story and at the last page I thought I had known them forever. Their teen years- the same mixed feelings, the same parties that turned out bad and the same hopes about love. High school is a very special period for development, having fun and experience. It’s sad to miss it.

Dear Sara and Tegan,

Thank you for sharing a story where everyone can find themselves, even when we are lost. Thank you for making me cherish the years as a teen and the important role music has to play everyday.

P.S.: The cover is really cool!

20 de ani în Siberia – despre povestea Amintirilor din viață

“Aciastă dragoste și iubire de familie ni-a dat putere în toate greutățile și am putut rezista și ni-am sălvat viața.”

Anița Nandriș-Ciudla

Anul acesta, ca niciodată, mi-a fost greu să aleg cărțile de citit înainte de Crăciun. Voiam ceva potrivit pentru iarnă, poate ceva profund și captivant care să mă țină ancorată între pagini până când uitam de mine. Este dificil, mai ales, atunci când cărțile adunate pe parcursul anului vor să fie citite acum, în ultimele zile până la Revelion (probabil și în noaptea cu pricina).

Dorința mi s-a îndeplinit, dar într-un mod neobișnuit și clar nu cum mă așteptam: am văzut în bibliotecă acest volum cu o pictură în acuarelă pe copertă, o carte pe care mi-o dorisem încă din vară și care își aștepta “minuta”.

La baza celor “20 de ani în Siberia” stă manuscrisul Aniței Nandriș-Cudla, o femeie simplă din satul Mahala, Bucovina. A fost deportată în 1941 împreună cu soțul ei (pierdut de când i-au urcat în trenuri diferite) și cei trei băieți, singurii care au fost alături de ea în următorii 20 de ani petrecuți atât de departe de casă. Simple victime, neștiutori și speriați, au dus o viață în caznă, foamete și frică. Lucruri și mai rele s-ar fi întâmplat dacă Anița nu ar fi fost una dintre cele mai puternice femei despre care am citit vreodată.

A devenit capul familiei imediat ce a realizat că nu o să își mai vadă soțul, iar copiii depindeau în totalitate de ea. A muncit peste tot unde i s-a cerut pentru a avea 400g în plus de pâine în fiecare zi, tot pentru cei mici. A mers kilometri întregi pentru a culege niște fructe sălbatice bune pentru sănătatea băieților ei, deja mari și angajați în rândul pescarilor. A făcut închisoare într-un loc deja ostil. Iar cel mai tare o afecta starea celor trei fii: lipsa alimentelor, hainelor, spaima că s-a întâmplat ceva pe vasul de pescari și nu se vor mai întoarce la ea. Și lista de sacrificii continuă…

De ce am ales această carte si nu alta mai veselă, în spiritul Crăciunului? Am simțit că povestea Aniței, una cât se poate de reală și incredibilă, îmi va rămâne în suflet mult timp. Ca experiență de lectură este fascinantă: limbajul este unul simplu, popular bucovinean, dar pe cât se poate de emoționant. Ai impresia, cu fiecare frază, că această femeie incredibilă se află în fața ta, depănându-și amintirile în micuța ei bucătărie lângă sobă. Îți și imaginezi cum a ținut ascuns manuscrisul cu un scris caligrafic si ordonat, până când i l-a încredințat nepotului ei pentru a-l aduce în România. Curajul nu a părăsit-o niciodată.

Îmi place, mai ales în perioada sărbătorilor, să mă gândesc la oamenii dragi și speciali. Anița, pentru care dragostea a însemnat totul, cu siguranță se numără printre ei.

Looking For Alaska & The Labyrinth

How do you get out of this labyrinth of suffering?

Alaska Young

Sometimes we forget the smallest details of a book or we find hard to remember who was who and what happened at a specific moment of the plot. It’s absolutely normal. Especially if we didn’t like that novel in specific.

It’s hard to forget a person, even when it lives in a fictional universe. Some characters are so well built that we’ve got the impression of considering them real or at least they make us wish they were alive in this world. It’s the case of Alaska Young, the protagonist of this tiny novel and the series that aired this October.

Alaska’s first appearance will blow your mind, as it did with Miles “Pudge” Halter, the new kid in school who falls in love with her instantaneously. She’s intelligent, gorgeous and has one of the most beautiful smiles in the world. Oh, I almost forgot: her room is full of books and she calls it her “Life’s Library”. Also, she’s a feminist and a party animal when she’s not too mysterious.

Miles Halter memorizes people’s last words. He finds them fascinating, inspirational and puts them at the base of his axiomatic system. François Rabelais’s last words, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”, are his mantra and the reason why he starts this journey for the unknown. Chip Martin or the Colonel, as he is called by his group, is the smart kid in school that will go to the end of the world for his friends. His only flaw is that he puts honor above anything, being very stubborn even when he should make a compromise. Takumi is also mysterious, he is the cool guy and the one that knows everything that happens in the campus. Together, they are Alaska’s best friends, but still have trouble trying to understand her.

One thing Alaska is almost obsessed about is the labyrinth in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s historical novel “The General in his Labyrinth”, a story about Simon Bolivar. As Miles is trying to find the Great Perhaps, Alaska wants to find the exit from her suffering. She hides her unhappiness with success until…

As much as I loved Alaska in the book, I adored her in the series and I have to admit that the adaptation won my heart over the original. Wow, that was hard to say. Alaska is even more fascinating in the show, she’s magically portrayed by Kristine Froseth and you can see the story from her perspective, whereas the novel presents only Miles’ point of view. Chip (Denny Love), the little genius at Culver Creek boarding school, is funny and will make you laugh even in the darkest of times, but I didn’t find this while reading. In the series they gave more depth to the characters.

Overall, Alaska is a captivating character that I’ll never forget and I do recommend both the novel and the series, but I prefer the latter. If you want to read the book, you should do that first and enjoy the show after. You will laugh, you will cry and then you will find yourself thinking about the labyrinth: is there an escape? Do I choose to live in it or try to get out?