Adele Barker and her teenage son Noah spent a year in Sri Lanka where Adele taught literature at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy. In Not Quite PAdele Barker and her teenage son Noah spent a year in Sri Lanka where Adele taught literature at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy. In Not Quite Paradise, Adele discusses everything from the food and customs to the people she meets, and the civil war. After the tsunami, Adele returns once again to Sri Lanka and describes the horrible devastation. She also travels north to war-torn Jaffna where she experiences the danger first hand. Not Quite Paradise combines interesting details about daily life, historical fact, and current events in a country ravaged by war for over twenty years.
Sri Lanka is a tiny island nation populated by two distinct ethnic groups: the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority. It was once a colony of Britain but after the British pulled out, tensions escalated culminating in the civil war between the LTTE, a faction of Tamil terrorists, and the Sinhalese government that began in 1983. Adele makes the country’s history come alive and she talks about the conflict from an unbiased point of view. Her own personal experiences as an American adjusting to life in Sri Lanka add touches of humor to the narrative.
Not Quite Paradise was an intensely personal reading experience for me. My parents are originally from Sri Lanka. They immigrated in the mid 70s before I was born. If not for that choice, my sister and I would have grown up there in the middle of the war. The descriptions of war violence were very hard to read about. Although the war ended last year it will take a long time to rebuild and heal. People in Sri Lanka have suffered a lot but even among the sorrow they have hope. There is a lot of beauty and rich culture on the island. Adele is particularly interested in elephants and local birds and I enjoyed reading about the animals that she saw. She also met and made a lot of new friends both Sinhalese and Tamil and she shares their stories with us. I admired Adele’s bravery in coming to a country so different to her and I like how open she was to new cultures and ways of belief. Her conversational writing style is mostly accessible and flows well. If you enjoy reading narrative nonfiction and learning about other cultures, you might enjoy Not Quite Paradise. ...more
I found Little Princes to be a touching story that had serious moments as well as plenty of humor. I really appreciated being able to listen to the auI found Little Princes to be a touching story that had serious moments as well as plenty of humor. I really appreciated being able to listen to the audio book and hearing Conor Grennan recount his life-changing experiences in Nepal. I also enjoyed learning about a country I am so unfamiliar with. The memoir starts out with a suspenseful prologue where Conor is injured and alone without a way back to Kathmandu before backtracking to show us just how and why Conor came to be in Nepal. It was fascinating to read about Nepali culture and sad to hear about the suffering the kids had been through. I was also deeply inspired by Conor's desire to reunite the kids with their families at great personal risk.
I think some of my favorite parts of the book were just the everyday ordinary moments with the children at the Little Princes orphanage such as when Conor teaches them to say his name (they first pronounced it as "Crondor") or attempts to teach them something about science. I also enjoyed seeing Conor grow through his time at the orphanage and his founding of Next Generation Nepal. When he first arrives, he has this idea that this will be just a brief stop before his year of travel and adventure. He is changed by his time in Nepal and the people he encounters. I am glad that Conor is open with readers about his shortcomings and mistakes. It makes him more human and easier to relate to. His self-deprecating humor adds to the storytelling. I also liked the discussion of faith. This is not a "Christian" book and it does not have a preachy message but Conor discusses spirituality and the place of faith and religion in his life in a very real and unassuming way. I enjoyed the anecdotes, hearing about the culture of Nepal, and Conor's depictions of people like Farid. The one thing I did not like as much is that the narrative starts to lag during the part when Conor is traveling with his buddies outside of Nepal. Still, this is a minor thing and overall I think Little Princes is one of the best books I've read this year.
Conor Grennan's story and his life's work are inspiring. At times the book made me laugh out loud while other moments moved me to tears. Even if you don't typically read nonfiction, there is something for everyone: adorable kids that you can't help but care about, adventure, suspense, humor, and even a little romance as Conor meets his wife Liz. Little Princes is a book I won't soon forget. I am generally not a nonfiction reader so that is saying something! ...more
The World of Downton Abbey is a companion book to the hit television series. In addition to pictures from the set there is background information on tThe World of Downton Abbey is a companion book to the hit television series. In addition to pictures from the set there is background information on the real lives and events that inspired the show. There are chapters that cover the life of servants, fashion, society, the war, behind the scenes of the show, and more.
I found the book to be easy to read though I do wish that it was a little better organized in terms of insets. I'd be reading the main chapter and then there would be an inset of information that would break up the flow. Still, there is plenty of interesting information here for fans of the show. Another bonus is the list of resources for further reading. My favorite part of the book were all the beautiful stills from the show. I also loved the chapters on society, life in service, and fashion. I find that historical time period to be fascinating.
If you are a fan of the series and interested in learning more about the time period, this is a fun place to start. The writing style makes the book flow easily so it doesn't read like a dry textbook. Though The World of Downton Abbey is available as an e-book and audio book, I would strongly suggest reading the hardcover in order to appreciate the visual beauty of the book to its fullest....more