quinta-feira, 14 de outubro de 2010

Dear John

Dear John...what can I say about the book that I now consider as one of my favorites? To the book which made me cry more than I have ever cried reading a book? To the book which made me want to change sooo much in myself and become a better person? To the book which made me think about forgiveness and be able to take the plunge and forgive my sister who I hadnt talked for almost two weeks? 
a few weeks ago I was doing my nails and decided I would put on a movie to watch as I went through the long process of soaking, filing, cutting, painting and then waiting for my nails to dry... my dad reccomended me a "slow but nice movie" called "Dear John". I watched it twice. My sister joined me the second time and halfway through the movie said out loud: "What is that noise? OMG Chris, its you crying!!!" Yes, I cried my eyes out. It stayed in my mind for days. It made an impact. And lo and behold, the other day when I was giving one of my students a class this book stares me in the face: "Dear John" and before I knew it my treasured prize was in my bag and in my hands the moment I sat in the bus going to my next class. As always, not everything is the same as it is on the movie. In the movie the main character, Savannah is this stunning blond beauty with this unconciouss naïveté all about her. In the book she is a short good looking tan girl. The whole story has its little differences here and there but to my great surprise I almost fell off my chair when the end of my story finishes completely different from the movie. In the movie they end up 'happily ever after' but in the book he disapears and does the hardest decision ever in his life to make her happy since he loves her so much. But even despite my  astonishment at the sad ending of the book I think I prefered the original ending (the one in the book) because it portrays the true meaning of love and what love is all about.
"The secret to happiness is to dream dreams you can reach" is one of the first phrases in the book. I thought about that. It makes total sense. I learnt a lot about life, about putting others happiness first, of letting go of selfish attitudes and doing what it takes to see others happy - even if it means sacrificing for them. Well, hats off to Nicholas Sparks and his fantastic took me on a journey which I will never forget and I am a better person because of it. 

Book Review:
An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life--until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. "Dear John," the letter read...and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love--and face the hardest decision of his life.

domingo, 10 de outubro de 2010

Résistance - Agnes Humbert

Finished reading this book today and must give it a thumbs up and reccomend anyone who complains about life to read it. The book is strong reading material specially when you know its the truth and nothing but the truth... and that what happened to her happened to millions and millions of other human beings too. The amazing thing about Agnes is how she can retell all of her suffering and horrid happenings with so much irony. Her sarcasm and ironic style of writing just makes you want to delve in the book and into her mind as well.There is a part in the book which she is talking to one of her close friends - an ex french prisoner - and he tells her the most horrendous stories that he saw happen before his own eyes. He explains how in the camp that he was a prisioner in the german would get all the "intelectuals" and do experiences with them. For example: they would tie them naked with a leash on their neck and to get a bowl of food to keep from starving they had to go on all fours and bark like a dog. The worst one is him retelling of how one day the german soldiers decided to do another new "experiment". They chose five jews - a lawyer, an administrator, and three doctors - and then got five cows. They put the men behind the cows and forced them to copulate with the cows. He was one of the men who's task was to hold the cows still. As he preformed his job he said that the germans laughs filled his ears and that is the worst sound he ever heard in his whole life. The book is filled with these and many more other cruelties - but in the end, after she goes through it all her will power is strengthened, her sense of justice is fortified and yet she never loses her human compassion which flows freely from her heart.
Here are some snippets of a book review I found online:

  1. Résistance
  3. : Memoirs of Occupied France
  4. by Agnès Humbert
Agnes Humbert is a captured member of the French Resistance and is shipped off to Germany for 'war work'. Immediately after the war, Agnès Humbert, published an account of her four-year incarceration, first in a French prison in the centre of Paris, then as a slave labourer in Germany. Her book, now translated for the first time into English, is unusually detailed, unlike those of many victims who chose not to tell their stories until years later when memory is no longer fresh. Agnes was an unusual woman. Born in 1894, the daughter of an army officer, she became a Symbolist painter and married an Egyptian artist, moving with him to a Breton village to raise their two sons.
She was an early anti-fascist and a woman of the left when those terms meant fellow travelling with the Soviet Union. After her marriage broke up in 1934, she went to work at the anthropological institute, the Musée de l'Homme in Paris, part of a distinguished team of specialists in art and culture that as soon as France fell in 1940 formed one of the earliest organised Resistance groups.
The activities for which she was punished were so paltry: a little newspaper, scrawling slogans on banknotes. But the underground circle was quickly betrayed and its members arrested. A was taken to a prison on the rue du Cherche-Midi, where she spent a year in solitary confinement.
In her coffin-like cell, there is nothing but the loneliness and mental torment of total isolation, apart from a system of communication with the other prisoners whom she never sees. But the French prison is luxury compared with the deportation to Germany. If you ignore, for a moment, Nazi Germany's political ideology and ask what made it tick, the answer is sadism. It enjoyed inflicting pain and reducing human beings to zeroes.
It did not only do this to Jews, Gypsies and Slavs, and its enemies like Humbert, but to its own citizens for pathetically trivial infractions of domestic law. The slave labour units were governed by the same principles as the death camps: work the inmates to death on starvation rations in an experiment to see what the human body can endure before it gives out.
Her account is agony to read and the I am frequently forced to ask if one could have survived more than a few days under the torture she describes. The women are covered in crabs and lice, they are making rayon in factories with toxic chemicals burning their skin, fed on a few hundred calories a day. They have no soap. They own a toothbrush and comb that they continuously steal from one another. Without scissors, their toenails grow into their own flesh. Not even the clothes on their backs are exclusively their own. 
What kept Agnès Humbert going was her personality: her will, her optimism and her political beliefs. She is absolutely certain that Germany will be defeated because she believes in a moral universe in which all is set to rights again by human struggle. 
But the Nazis are not capable of making her 'destructed'. From the moment she is liberated by the Americans, her formidable powers of organisation are revived, ready to help the newly occupying forces alleviate the suffering of survivors and arrest the perpetrators. She returned to France, but her health was damaged by what she had endured. She died in 1963. Her book adds to the small record of how the human mind can preserve the heart and soul intact against all attempts to annihilate it.