Azad: a flight of desi fantasy


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I remember the scornful lift of many a teen lip as they realized that the American version of Harry Potter had been wiped clean of the many British-isms which editors felt would be distracting. But, um, yes. It seems that they do. They also think you have zero attention span, but that's a rant for another day. One thing you will not find in The Knife and the Butterfly - an author who thinks readers are stupid.

Read on. So, yeah.

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It's a novel about an Hispanic boy from a gang in jail. Shoppers, turn on your blue Kmart stereotype light, and let it spin and flash! Racism on aisle six!

azad: a flight of desi fantasy-Sanjiv Behera

Feel better? Now, turn it off. Yeah, turn it off. Yes, really. She is not, but knows Hispanic culture very well, and has married into a Latino family. That's like the dumb inference which means I can drop the n-word or, hey, my Dad's half or maybe a quarter Greek; surely there's some Greek stereotype I'm now eligible to rock? This is the author acknowledging a statistic, and busting the stereotype that merely taking statistics into account can engender, by bringing out the human side.

I discovered that, even in the world of gangs and petty crimes, everyday realities cast a wider shadow than the stereotypes that pretend to contain them. People are breathing, flesh-and-blood entities creatures who cherish things, mourn things, hope for things, have vulnerabilities, and are real. A writer who messes around with stereotypes without thinking them through is asking for trouble.

Another thing you find in The Knife and the Butterfly - an author who takes her subject seriously. We are always about the art around here - whether that's because I like to mess around with images whilst thinking my niece is the graphics design major; does this stop me from pretending that I am? Does she wish it would? Yes to both , or because A.

On one hand, so evocative and kind of moody and gorgeous. On the other, so sending sixteen hundred varying and wrong messages about this particular book, and so, so DONE. Not every author gets a chance to be involved in the steps to produce a cover, so kudos to the editors who are confident enough to let the author in, and to the author who knows her mind enough to speak it. WIN on all sides. And yet, he's such a presence, tagging all over the city, being mouthy and swaggering -- he seems so big.

Writers - more on the subject on the author's blog. The best thing about a blog tour is that it allows an author to think deeply and really talk about their work, and allows readers to ask the niggling, secret, or silly questions they've got lurking within them about a work, about an author, or about their process. Ashley has been a guest blogger from whom the folks at Writers' Digest should take notes.

There's more on deck for The Knife and the Butterfly blog tour, including a stop with us this Friday. Be sure and read A. Labels: Cybils News , Happenings. Tune in this Friday, February 17th, for Ashley's guest post about edgy fiction—what does it mean for fiction to have an edge? Join the discussion in just a few short days! In the meantime, we've got a review of her newest book, which plunges us straight into the intersecting stories of locked-up gang member Azael Arevalo and troubled teen-on-trial Lexi Allen.

Reader Gut Reaction : When we first meet Azael, he's just woken up in a cell—not for the first time, but something's different about this lockup. For one thing, he's got zero contact with the outside world, and for another, he can't remember anything that happened to him before he got locked up. He knows there was a fight with another gang, but after that The fact that Azael can't remember what got him locked up immediately creates a feeling of suspense and the need to keep reading to find out what really happened; and the more we find out, the stranger—and sadder—the story gets.

Some have said that this is an "edgy" book, and it is, in the sense that it's a story about life in the world of gangs and taggers, fights and feuds, and, for Azael, the constant looming threats of arrest, foster care, and deportation. But it's also a sad story, and the author makes us feel for Azael and his tough situation, the hopeless feeling of inevitability that his life has, whether or not it's true.

And the situation suffered by Lexi is no less difficult, as Azael begins to see--even though he's not sure what his jailers want him to learn from observing her.

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Sure, she's locked up, too, but what does that have to do with him? Solving the mystery of Lexi and the mystery of his own situation go hand in hand, of course, and the gradual revelation of clues and details kept me turning the pages. Concerning Character : Both characters offer an equally wrenching story—and I'm using wrenching here rather than edgy because, for me, it covers the subjective emotions of the characters, where "edgy" seems like a more detached term that refers more to their environments, their situations, the quality of their lives.

Because we DO get such an intimate glimpse into both Azael's and Lexi's emotions—Azael because he's got nothing else to do BUT think while he's locked in his cell, and Lexi through her journal entries—it becomes clear very quickly that there is so much depth in both teens, so much pain and sadness in their lives. They are far more than just kids who have been failed by the system or who have fallen into tough circumstances or have made bad decisions.

They are kids who are lost and hurting. Even if we can't change what's already happened, we all have the power within ourselves to change, at the very least, how we think and act in the future, and how we think and feel about ourselves in the present. As Azael does what he can to take control of his situation, as Lexi does her best to work through what's happened, both find an inner core of strength, and this helps them grasp at a sense of meaning in what often feels like a chaotic and rocky existence. In the end, while the ending is not exactly happy, we are left with a sense of relief that our paths in life aren't necessarily fixed and unswerving, that we can shift things in a direction for the good and that it's never too late to do so.

Review Copy Source : NetGalley. This review refers to the Kindle electronic ARC. February 09, Toon Thursday: Ferrets' Revenge. Another brand-new toon for you guys this week--and with the return of ferrets as a topic of Twitter conversation, I thought they should make a return cameo in this week's toon, too. You can find more toon ferrets here and here.

As always, click to view larger. In the U. For the past few days, we've focused on the history and many people's reactions to historical fiction as a genre, and we haven't spent much time on the blood-pounding excitement of espionage, spy thrillers, derring-do and unlikely escapes.

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But now, bombs are falling, enemy aircraft has been spotted, and I want to delve a bit more into the book in terms of theme and scope -- I'll be doing that carefully, as to avoid spoilers. In many ways, that feels like there's not much I can say -- in other ways, not talking about more than the outline of the plot still leaves plenty to discuss. Reader Gut Reaction : I talked before about getting this book and then sort of sitting and looking at it.

Five pages into my reading, I had a horrible free-falling feeling that swooped and chittered in my gut as I read. The first narrator spoke at length about what she was doing, and why she was writing, and I realized, "Oh, my goodness, she's already been caught. First, she was the victim of a plane crash, and it was just her rotten luck that she got caught, in France. Second, that they seem to think she knows something - she's a wireless operator after all.

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And third, she's trying to put a good face on it, being funny and wry and all, but she's a squealer of the first water, a quisling, a tattler, a Benedict Arnold. And she's writing as fast as she can. Concerning Character : Maddie and "Queenie" are the two girls whose voices we hear in the two halves of the novel. Structurally, the style and the voice are different in both halves, as they're very different young women who've met by happenstance. Maddie is a sturdy middle-class Manchester girl - with dark curls and Jewish roots - who is mad about engines and likes to get her hands dirty, taking apart motorbikes and the like.

She is straightforward, blunt, and tends to worry quietly to herself. Fey, fair Queenie is both a Stewart and a Wallace, a proud, proud Scottish girl who has been educated in Swiss boarding schools and has just started at University when the war breaks out.

She grew up in a castle - Castle Craig, is a dreamer, a risk-taker, a play actor. In the same shelter when an air raid sounded, these two shared an umbrella, smokes, and secret fears, cementing a tentative friendship.

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Maggie -- who fearlessly flies planes but who shudders into tears at the sounds of gunfire and bombs -- and Queenie -- who speaks flawless German, wields her beauty like a knife, and fearlessly sasses her superior officers, but secretly worries about having to kill someone, growing old, or being alone in the dark -- come together in a solid friendship which will see them through the darkest hours of the War.

Though Maddie fears doing the wrong thing, letting everyone down, and court-martial, Queenie's great fears of cold and dark and bad manicures have all faded in the face of what she has truly learned to fear: who she has become -- "I'm a regular Judas," she confesses wryly in her notes to the Gestapo. She's telling secrets -- all of them that she knows -- and she's doing it for a blanket, for the dignity of clothing, and so that they will stop punching her, groping her, and burning her with cigarettes, carbolic, and electrical wires.

And, they are going to shoot her anyway. The Gestapo means there's pain, not overt, but it is there. Mostly, though, this is a novel about Maddie, who, as a girl is maybe a bit less feminine and a bit more masculine than she "should" be; Queenie, with her upper-class accent, long, fair hair, perfect manicure, and love of the German language and culture -- both girls are essentially squared pegs in the round holes of their culture and time, and when they are thrown together, these two unlikely opposites attract, and create "a sensational team.

These aren't the types of female relationships, quite frankly, that are seen in mainstream young adult fiction novels much. Remember the Bechdel Test?

It has to have at least two women in it 2. Who talk to each other 3. Money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. See all our books here, order more than 1 book and get discounted shipping. More information about this seller Contact this seller 6. Item added to your basket View basket. Proceed to Basket. View basket.

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