Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: The beautiful things that heaven bears by Dinaw Mengestu

index

So far I have read Kenyan, Nigerian, South African, Ghanian, Egyptian, Ugandan and now Ethiopian. I have found myself gravitating towards books that make me think about life and how life weaves itself in its own way and at its own time. The beautiful things that heaven bears is one such book. Deep and mesmerizing are the words I would use to describe it.

I think a better word to describe how I felt when I read this book was “romanticized”. I don’t know if it was the depth of the emotions that drew me or the way it makes you feel the presence of a place or the beauty of home. This book kind of touched so many facets of life; war, immigration, love, despair, loss, race, death, politics, education. It was a book that despite it being all over the place managed to retain its truth…Its just a beautiful book that will resonate with whoever reads it based on what you are going through in your life. The kind of book you can just open at random and find writing that is both thoughtful and deep and real. There are moments I almost found myself agreeing with the words because it was things I have thought about in my life but sometimes words fail you when you want to explain an emotion.

And at the basis of any good book is the relationships it brings out. The main character forges relationships with his two best friends one of whom is Kenyan, his new neighbor  who has a young daughter, his family back home in Ethiopia…Its simply a gem. And since I can’t keep bragging about a book, let me share some excerpts from the book to inspire you to read this thought provoking book:

“People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one’s heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us”

“Life was precarious. I had always been willing to admit that. I lived on a fine line with poverty on one side and just enough extra money for an occasional beer on the other. In January I slipped off that line, and after that, it was all but impossible to get back on.”

“I knew that there were patterns to life, but what I had never understood until then was how insignificant a role we played in creating them.”

“I walk behind her slowly, admiring the deliberation that seems to come with every step. I can only guess at the effort it takes for a woman like this to make her way through the city every day. I wonder if the world slows down to match her understanding of it, if the mind doesn’t catch each passing image and hold it for a second longer in order to compensate for the extra energy each step takes”

 “We have instincts for tragedies. We know when they belong to us long before we understand them”

“I quoted to her a line from Democracy in America, one of a series that she had used as an epigraph to her own book: “Among democratic nations new families are constantly springing up, others are constantly falling away, and all that remain change their condition; the woof of time is every instant broken and the track of generations effaced.”

“What was it my father used to say? A bird stuck between two branches gets bitten on both wings. I would like to add my own saying to the list now, Father: a man stuck between two worlds lives and dies alone. I have dangled and been suspended long enough.”

“When he’s drunk, he likes to declare those to be the most perfect lines of poetry ever written. “Think about it,” he says. “Dante is finally coming out of hell, and that is what he sees. ‘Some of the beautiful things that heaven bears.’ It’s perfect, I tell you. Simply perfect. I told my teacher that no one can understand that line like an African because that is what we lived through. Hell every day with only glimpses of heaven in between.”

“There are approximately 883 steps between these steps and my store. A distance that I can sprint in less than ten seconds, walk in under a minute. It is always the first and last steps that are the hardest to take. We walk away and try not to turn back, or we stand just outside the gates, terrified to find what’s waiting for us now that we’ve returned. In between, we stumble blindly from one place and life to the next. We try to do the best we can. There are moments like this, however, when we are neither coming nor going, and all we have to do is sit and look back on the life we have made. Right now, I’m convinced that my store looks more perfect than ever before. I can see it exactly as I have always wanted to see it. Through the canopy of trees that line the walkway cutting through the middle of the circle is a store, one that is neither broken nor perfect, one that, regardless of everything, I’m happy to claim as entirely my own”

2

Halla with your email if you want a soft copy of this enchanting book
Happy reading 🙂

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s