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448 pages, ebook
First published October 22, 2019
It reminded Adeem of one of the poems his sister had shared with him once, one by Rumi. In the poem, Rumi banters with God over life’s usual philosophical questions: what to do with that pesky thing called a heart, where to focus one’s eyes, etcetera, etcetera. But when Rumi asks God what to do with his pain and sorrow, God tells him, “Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
tw : suicide attempt (in the past, not depicted), mental health issues,
Some books just stick with you for reasons beyond your immediate comprehension. This is what happened with I Hope You Get This Message and I. Ever since I've finished it, it quietly sat in the back of my head. Lately, I've been thinking about the end of the world a little (dark, much ? a little but it's not that bad) and thinking about how We as Humans hurt the Earth and how it's eventually going to fight back and We (and the future generations) will (are) suffer(ing) from it greatly.
I Hope You Get This Message follows three characters, Adeem, Jesse and Cate as they experience essentially the end of the world. An entity known as Alma warns humans that they will terminate our existence in the next seven days. All hell breaks loose and our main characters try to navigate this announcement however they can.
Rishi's writing is beautiful and fluid. It's also full of little gems of wisdom (“Be kind, Adi. Life’s too exhausting as it is to hold on to anger so tightly.” OOF)
✨The characters ✨
“It’s convenient to sit back and do nothing when everything goes to hell,” continued Adeem, only a little quieter. “People like him blame the problems we face on the natural order. Or God. Or a lack thereof. But the moment we sit back and do nothing while everything falls apart—that’s why we have problems in the first place. That’s why this is happening.”
Adeem is Pakistani-American and so is the author ! Adeem goes after his sister who, after coming out to her religious Muslim family, ran from home (without saying goodbye to Adeem). I really felt Adeem's struggle : while he is angry at his sister for running away and abandoning him, there's also this part of him that wishes she had trusted him enough to know he wouldn't have rejected her. I appreciated the way Rishi described sibling relationships because most of the time, they're far from simple and I always love to read about it.
"The thing about wanting to die was that people always assume it’s the constant pain that gets to you, the pain that convinces you to do something, anything, to make it stop, and Jesse’s depression was painful at first, all sporadic tugs and pulls beneath his skull, like a stubborn specter that clung to his mind with sharp teeth."
Jesse was my favorite character. His reaction to Alma is to pretend he built this machine that's able to communicate with the "aliens" and this attracts a bunch of people desperate for just a little bit of hope. This opened my eyes about how much emotional baggage we carry as human beings and how easy, almost natural, it is for us to assume that everything is okay when really, everything is Really Not. Jesse's relationship with his mom was beautiful and heartbreaking and I'll talk more about him in the "themes" section. I really did love Jesse's evolution/thought process throughout the book and I thought he was well-written and complex.
💜Cate was probably the character I felt the "less" about. She didn't strike me with her personality or her arc. Cate decides to leave her mom to go find her dad, whom she's never met (which is a brave thing to do). Her resilience truly was something to admire but I can't lie to you and say she will stick with me (unlike the book in its entirety for example).
✨ Themes ✨
1) We are not our parents and other complex family intricacies. The reason why I loved Jesse so much is because of his relationship with his family but also his thought process when it came to his relationship with his dad.
"Sure, crows manipulated. Crows deceived. But crows also survived—it was their trickery that kept them alive."
I felt Jesse's anger and personal conflict. It reminded me that We Are Not Our Parents and that trauma needs to be dealt with because unfortunately, it doesn't just go away.
“But I don’t want you to keep pretending you’re okay. I don’t want you to keep downplaying the hurt you feel like you’re not even human. You keep it up—all these lies to yourself, to other people, and soon you’re not going to know who you are.”
Jesse is definitely a character that will stay with me for some time.
2) Companionship is Important and it's something fundamental that we gravitate towards. Finding friendship, and I mean Real, Unapologetic, True Friendship is rare. It's not something that happens on a daily basis. This book reminded me why I love to read about friendships (and if you need to know anything about me, it's that it's my favorite thing and I literally cannot shut up about it).
3) Hope is not Dumb, it's Necessary. At some point in the book, Jesse is confronted with his utter rejection of Hope as a driving factor of humanity.
“You wanna know why people believe in you? It’s because hope gives people something to hold on to. It makes them feel better. It gives them a reason to keep fighting. People need hope right now, Jesse. Desperately. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
While on the one hand, I deeply understand Jesse's point of view, I also truly believe that Hope Is Necessary. And to be completely honest with you, it's with that type of dialogue that Rishi made me fall in love with her writing. Her way of putting things into perspective and moving me to the point of tears needs more recognition.
“But isn’t that the point of hope? And faith, even? That you have it and you hold on to it and you protect it, even when it’s impossible? Isn’t that when you need hope the most? You can’t blame people for wanting to feel better.”“You know, the worst part of it all,” said Corbin, “isn’t that you were profiting off people’s hope. It’s that you look down on people for having any hope at all.”
I feel like this book was emotionally violent for me on two different levels :
✨ one is that it is really brutal : the reality of the matter IS that some kids have to grow up way too fast and that it's so fucking unfair but it is what it is. While the three MCs are teenagers, this book is also a testimony that sometimes kids have to grow up too fast, and they have to face things they're no ready to face that are yet inevitable.
✨ two is that there's an inherent softness to what Rishi is saying. There's this quote in the book “remind the ones you love there’s something still worth fighting for” and it reminded me of Keanu Reeves (9:51) on Stephen Colbert. I don't know how to put it into words eloquently so I'll just shut up and ask you to read the book.
✨My Only "Criticism"✨
I wish there had been more light-heartedness. Okay hear me out, yes it's the end of the world (or at least the end of A World aka as we know it) BUT there was some serious potential to (for lack of better words) "lighten" the story a bit (maybe that's just a personal preference and honestly the author did this very well at some point : “Man,” he choked. “Your body doesn’t give a shit about timing, does it? That’s why we’re in jail? Seriously? Did it not get the memo about the impending alien attack?” “Are you . . .” Cate blinked back her disbelief. “Adeem, are you asking me if my uterus knows about Alma?” )
ALSO I WANT TO FRAME THIS QUOTE :“What do you think we should do, just snooze our way through the freaking apocalypse?” (probably because it's what I would do)
✨In Conclusion ✨
I loved this comment about the end of the world and the inherently brief nature of humanity. The ending did not fully satisfy me (actually it didn't satisfy me AT ALL) but I think it's the reason I liked it (paradoxical, I know). I'm a sucker for looking at a book in its entirety and not just focusing on One Thing I Disliked. And with I Hope You Get This Message, I enjoyed it in its entirety, and its message.
↣ listened to the audiobook on scribd.
But the thing about the end of the world was this: either everything mattered, or nothing did.