Two Book Reviews

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves.

The Namesake is a coming of age novel about a young boy named Gogol. From being a young boy through his young adult life, he hated the name Gogol and was always embarrassed by his name. He didn’t like telling people his actual name so he would lie. When he finally turned 18, he changed his name to Nikhil with both his parents’ blessings.

Despite that, his parents continued to call hi Gogol–so did the narration.

It isn’t until halfway through the book where we–and Gogol–discover who he was named after and why. It is a touching father and son moment in which Gogol feels guilty, but he still doesn’t regret his decision to change his name.

Through long narration and very little dialogue, we go through Gogol’s life from birth to adulthood. We follow him as Gogol and as Nikhil as we learn more about him and he learns about himself.

Overall, it was a good story about a young boy finding himself and trying to figure out who he is. However, I felt as though there was a lot more to the story that wasn’t necessarily needed. Because of that, the book was boring to me. It was a quick-read, but felt extremely tedious.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“She has the gift of accepting her life; as he comes to know her, he realizes that she has never wished she were anyone other than herself, raised in any other place, in any other way.” –Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer–a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.

In Real Life is a graphic novel told through a young girl playing an online role-playing game. We follow her character both inside the game and outside. Through the game, she discovers that real life can be a harsh world.

It’s through the video game that Anda, the protagonist, realizes that she wants to make a difference in the world. She wants to help people–even if it’s through a video game.

I’m pleased that the story is a graphic novel. The pictures certainly help piece together the differences between reality and virtual reality. It’s awesome to see the main character in real life and her avatar in-game. She has two different personalities that end up merging into one.

It was a wonderful story about a girl gamer doing what she loves to do and not letting anyone stop her.

My only complaint for this was that it was too short–I would have liked to see more of the story. However, it is a graphic novel, so you can only go so far with it.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“It is not gender, nor age, nor race, but your ability to work hard at what you love.” –Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang, In Real Life


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