Monday, November 29, 2010

The Last Time I Saw Mother by Arlene J. Chai

(Photo taken from Amazon)

Title: The Last Time I Saw Mother
Author: Arlene J. Chai
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Language: English
ISBN - 10: 0449912345
ISBN - 13: 978-0449912348

A conversation between a mother and her teenage daughter:

Daughter: "Mom, am I adopted?"

Mother: "Of course not. What made you think that?"

D: "Aunt Lucy said that I don't look like you or Dad."

M: "That's because you take after both of us. Our features are thoroughly mixed in you that if you smile, your lips spread thinly like mine, but when you're serious, your lips purse like Dad's."

D: "You're really sure I'm not adopted?"

M: "A hundred percent sure. Even a million. I gave birth to you, or have you forgotten that? Why are you thinking of those things anyway? Have you been watching too much telenovelas lately?"

D: "No. But I read a book, The Last Time I Saw Mother by Arlene J. Chai. Caridad learns that she was just adopted, and the circumstances surrounding her birth are told to her by three different women: her mother Thelma, her aunt Emma, and her cousin Ligaya, which also touches upon the history of their families before the Japanese occupation and then further afterward."

M: "And because of that, you thought you might be adopted? Was the book any good?"

D: "Well, in my opinion, the plot is interesting. I mean, it shows four sides of the story. However, although the author wanted to do four voices, to me it felt like their voices are one and they same."

M: "So it was not that good?"

D: "Ideally, it is very good, Mom, since the author wanted to touch on the lives of four women with the history of the Philippines as a backdrop. It's just that because the characters sounded the same, and they also sounded a bit uncertain with respect to their reflections on the past, the whole book became more like a narrative lesson in history, than a compelling story of family and relationships."

M: "I see. Well at least it made you learn a bit of history, which you're not very good in. But if you said that the characters almost sound the same, how were you able to distinguish them from each other?"

D: "Well the book is divided into four parts, each dedicated for a single character. And they also have a bit of distinction in the tone in that Thelma is resolute, Caridad is confused, then contemplative, then understanding, Emma is regretful, and Ligaya is bitter. But that's just the difference as far as this story goes."

M: "So from what you've told me, you didn't seem to have enjoyed the story."

D: "As I was telling you Mom, I enjoyed the premise. I just felt that it could have been written better. There was too much drama going on but I guess that's understandable, since the premise is intended to be dramatic. But the characters are too digressing in their personal stories, and quite frankly, it's reminiscent of typical Filipino telenovelas where a child is adopted early on and only learns of the truth when they are older, though this one does not have all the pathetic complications as those on television. And the ending could have been better, but I guess it would suffice."

M: "Well that explains your question about being adopted. You read something that is like a telenovela! You mean I gave you your allowance and you spent it on an unsatisfying book?"

D: "It was cheap Mom, so I didn't really lose that much."

M: "So what happened in the ending? Why were you not satisfied?"

D: "Why don't you just read the book, Mom? I can't stand here all day and talk to you about that book."

M: "And why can't you stay and talk to me? I told you you're not going out to that party."

D: "You're never this strict with my brother! Maybe I am adopted!"

M: "Go to your room. And give me that book."

My First Ever Award: The Versatile Blogger Award

My first award woohoo‼ I would like to thank Mariya at Mystifying Paranormal Reviews, Cleo at Booklopedia, and J-9 at Blood Rose Books for awarding me the Versatile Blogger award *sniffs in true beauty queen fashion*

*UPDATE: Lulu at The Bookworm is Here and Amanda from Amanda's Writings also gave me this award, and I would like to extend my thanks to them.

Here's a 'picture' of my picture trophy:

So I learned that with this award comes *not too* great responsibility:
  1. Thank and link back to the person that gave this award.
  2. Write 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.
  4. Contact the bloggers you have picked to let them know about the award.
And here are seven random things about me:
  1. I can do different voices, and sometimes I do impressions of Cookie Monster, Spongebob, and Patrick Starfish, etc. But my favorite is copying Bart Simpson.
  2. I don't like touching flowers and plants due to an unreasonable fear of worms, caterpillars, and other creepy crawlies.
  3. However, I am not afraid of cockroaches, and I do have a bit of a sadistic streak when killing them. (Think cremation)
  4. I punched a boy in class when I was still in grade school for no reason.
  5. I can deliberately hide my pupils and just let the whites of my eyes show.
  6. I adore Audrey Hepburn.
  7. I like spoilers. I like movies but I like being able to read about them beforehand, so I have at least just a bit of idea what's going on. It doesn't spoil the excitement, I'm just like that.
And there you have it, folks, useless things about myself, that I dare you to use against me :p

Here are the 15 blogs I will be passing along this award to:

  1. The Deranged Book Lovers
  2. Sam Still Reading
  3. Bookable Reads
  4. I Am A Reader Not A Writer
  5. Fiction Spark
  6. A Tale of Many Reviews
  7. Book'd Out
  8. The SLTA
  9. Book Noise
  10. Library Mosaic
  11. Book Purring
  12. YA Bookie Monster
  13. Darkeva's Blog
  14. Romance Book Junkies
  15. Fiction State of Mind
And there you have it, let's all give ourselves a big round of applause and a loud "Yay‼"

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Pull of the Book Cover

How many of you grabbed a book just because you loved the cover design so much?

I have always been a fan of cover design. Most times, I get intrigued by either a book's title or design cover and they're mostly the deciding factor when I buy books. That's why when I learned from the blog hop that this week's question is "What is your favorite book cover?", I quickly ran through my mind all my favorites, and came up with the book, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead:

(Photo taken from Goodreads)

I like the simple and clean but creative concept. I'm a really big fan of drawings, and next to reading books, I also love to draw, which a lot of friends tell me look really weird:

So it comes as no surprise that I really love Ruben Toledo's revamping of some of the classics, particularly his take on the cover of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice:

(Photo taken from Coco Chanel Puffs)

However, a great title/cover design does not a great book make. Sometimes, the really dull-looking books offer the best reads. I'm not going to cite examples though, since appearances are relative, but I bet you've had moments when you got a really cool-looking book and minutes after reading, you just wanted to throw it away. Or there were those times when you couldn't care less about the cover but found a real treasure of a story inside.

On the whole, I'm sure you're thinking that this is just an excuse to get my drawings out there - well maybe it is, but just so you know, I only draw for fun. But I am very interested in books, as well as the psychology that the cover design evokes.

So are you influenced by cover design and/or titles when you pick a book?

Kiss the Girls by James Patterson

(Photo taken from Amazon)

Title: Kiss the Girls
Author: James Patterson
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Language: English
ISBN - 10:
ISBN - 13:

A dedicated policeman and psychologist. A killer in the West coast who calls himself, "Gentleman Caller," and a killer in the East coast who calls himself, "Casanova." Several females murdered and missing. Gruesome killings and tortures in graphic detail. Ah, classic James Patterson indeed.

Every time I read books from the likes of James Patterson, Thomas Harris, and John Sanford, I can't help thinking: "They all look like sweet, cute, huggable grandpas, and they write really scary stuff like this. Are they for real?" Of course they are. And they totally rock!

This story is the second installment in the Alex Cross series. This time, Alex hunts down two killers whom he suspects to be working together with each other, what he calls "twinning". Alex's niece is one of those missing women that one of the killers may have taken, and he comes rushing to help solve the case and on the way encounters familiar friends and new characters that gives this novel its thrilling, snappy appeal.

I like the novel's fast pace and economic dialogue. The flow of the story is precise, creative, and suspense-filled, that you can't help but hurry to the next chapter. However, for maximum appreciation, you must savor every detail in this story and let it come to you - just be sure to lock all your doors and windows, and keep the lights in your room open. I did all those things in the middle of reading this. I was totally hooked but paranoid! But, although the story is very action-packed, I just can't resist thinking that it's very predictable/unpredictable in that, if you are like me who reads and thinks about this book at the same time, you can already figure out some of the twists but you still get this strange feeling that when you get to a predicted twist, the author turns the tables on you and surprises you with stuff you haven't thought of. It's like he's telling you, "Gotcha there, didn't I?"

But as much as I would love to rave about this book, there is one quirk though, that I didn't like much: the romance between Alex Cross and an escaped victim. I mean, come on, they've only known each other what, a few weeks? And then there's the trauma the victim went through. Was it really that easy to get over and decide that you're in love again? No matter how strong a person is, stress will still be stress. It's not just something you take for granted - you have to deal with it first before you can get on with your life. And I'm talking about really heavy stress here.

Overall, I really liked this book and it certainly got me curious about the other ones on the series. Other readers have their vampires and what-not. I have psychotic killers and gruesome murders. Bring it!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

(Photo taken from the Barnes and Noble website)

Title: Boy Meets Boy
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Language: English
ISBN - 10:
ISBN - 13:

This is a story about a gay teenager named Paul who lives in a town where every person is allowed to be whomever they want to be. Not really gay utopia, as there are also some who are not happy with things as they stand, but as in Paul's words: "There isn’t really a gay scene or a straight scene in our town. They got all mixed up a while back, which I think is for the best." Which it really is. The author has painted a wonderful picture of a place where it's okay to be anything you want to be, that the only thing that separates you from your dreams is your belief in yourself, and your capacity to make things happen. This story also showed that, gay or no, friendship and love are two very complicated things, and that every person must know how to handle something so precious. When Paul begins to fall for Noah, a new kid in school, things get problematic when his ex Kyle, begins to reach out to him and wants to get back together. On the other hand, Paul and Joni's friendship is put to the test when Joni starts to go out with a person whom Paul and their other friends don't approve.

So if you think this book is too unrealistic and only good for light reading for teens, think again. The well-drawn characters will pop right out of you and take you to their world and let you see it through their eyes. They will tell you their secrets and you'll be surprised that in a novel such as this, love and friendship are still taken seriously, that in this almost perfect world, challenges will still come at you, and you, gay or straight, should learn how to deal with it. This story may be easy reading, but the values it teaches should not be taken lightly. Even parents can learn a thing or two from Paul and his friends.

This is a great read, especially if the heavy gay issues are getting too old for you. Or you're just really tired of heavy stuff. With its witty, entertaining dialogues, vivid characters, and creative settings, you'll definitely enjoy reading this, and find new friends within the story. It's not full of drama, but it does have its moments, and those moments are what makes this book shine. Sometimes, when I'm feeling a little down, I visit Paul and his friends and feel good about myself. Because as the story ends, Paul always tells me: "What a wonderful world."

Follow Friday

It's nice to have something like this on here, so I could expand my network faster. For those who visited my blog, welcome, and thank you for dropping by :D

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

(Photo taken from the Goodreads website)

Title: Kira-Kira
Author: Cynthia Kadohata
Publisher: Atheneum
Language: English
ISBN - 10: 0689856393
ISBN - 13: 978-0689856396

According to the Blurb

"Glittering. That's how Katie Takeshima's sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people's eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it's Lynn who explains to her why people stop them on the street to stare. And it's Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering—kira-kira —in the future."


Katie and her family's life is anything but kira-kira—the life of Japanese Americans in the 1950s was anything but glittering due to the "Anti-Japanese sentiment" across America. Katie could see reality: no one wants to make friends with her at school, not even with her sister Lynn, despite her natural charm and brilliance at schoolwork and her father had to work back-breaking hours to provide for his family. On the other hand, Lynn, despite also seeing reality, chose to be the optimist and was the one who taught Katie to see things differently, that all things are kira-kira.

The author has drawn perfectly believable characters, from the humble, hardworking father, to the sweet, adoring little brother. Their voices are clear and their words are accurate. Katie describes her world with the simplicity and practicality you would expect from her age, and a natural awe for her older sister. Added to the mix are interesting characters, Uncle Katsuhisa and his family, Amber, and Silly, who provide the necessary humor and perspective that turns the plot from an otherwise depressing narrative to a hopeful, coming of age story of a young girl and her family.

Winner of the 2005 Newbery Medal, this novel, though sad, will not disappoint. It is a story of hope at its core, convincing the readers to find the kira-kira in little things, reminding everyone to keep dreaming big, and appreciating the world for all its flaws.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

(Photo taken from Wikipedia)

Title: The God of Small Things
Author: Arundhati Roy
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Language: English
ISBN - 10:
ISBN - 13:

The Story According to the Blurb

"The story of the tragic decline of an Indian family whose members suffer the terrible consequences of forbidden love, The God of Small Things is set in the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, the twins Rahel and Esthappen fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family - their lonely, lovely mother (who loves by night the man her children love by day), their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt), and the ghost of an imperial entomologist's moth (with unusually dense dorsal tufts)."

"When their English cousin and her mother arrive on a Christmas visit, the twins learn that Things Can Change in a Day. That lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever..."


Have you ever had a dream in which everything was almost too real, you could not quite believe it when you have to wake up?

That was exactly how I would describe this book. The narration is startlingly vivid, that I can almost say I was with Rahel and Estha the whole time, crossing the river with them, listening to them make plans in the pickle factory, carrying their boat above our heads. Albeit slow, the story builds up to paint a big picture from the seemingly small things that the twins and their family encounter. Every single event is explored, every minute detail a metaphor. The writing draws a fine line between the well-drawn and the verbose. It was like gossiping with housewives - telling you a story in a non-linear way with exhausting description, that you always end up asking them to hurry up already and get to the juicy parts, only realizing that to fully appreciate the punchline, every inch of the story has to be exposed.

But unlike gossiping housewives, the author exhibits finesse and intelligence with the way she dealt with the story. Seen through the eyes of the young two-egg twins, their childish wisdom demonstrates an innocent, but not oversimplified, view of themselves, their family and their home. The author provides a credible portrait of two children amidst familial and social struggles that cause them to grow up unspeaking (Estha) and unfeeling (Rahel).

Each character's personalities are also very well-accounted for, that one can empathize with Ammu's plight, laugh at Chacko's quirks, and loathe Baby Kochamma with alarming intensity. Aided with realistic imagery, not just once did I find myself touching my feet at the mention of Baby Kochamma's edematous ones, disgust at the OrangedrinkLemondrink man; I even found myself singing with Estha while inside the Abhilash Talkies. They were almost real I expected a crowd to shush me when I sang.

From my point of view, this is a rediscovery of the trauma that the twins suffered while growing up, and they remembered it through the small things seemingly insignificant, but grew to be the cornerstone of their pain. The pain that in the self-centeredness of childhood, they claimed to be their doing, but with the passing time and the maturity of their minds, they understood that it was not their fault, and they were given their chance to grieve for their loss. Although some would object at the turn of events in the end, I myself could not complain, especially as I am not the one keeping the 'Love Laws,' "That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much."

Monday, November 22, 2010

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

(Photo taken from Jodi Picoult's website)

Title: House Rules
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Atria International
Language: English
ISBN - 10:
ISBN - 13: 978-0743296441

House Rules:

  1. Clean up your messes
  2. Tell the truth
  3. Brush your teeth twice a day
  4. Don't be late for school
  5. Take care of your brother; he's the only one you've got.
Those are house rules set up by Emma Hunt, mother of Jacob and Theo. She has been burdened since Jacob was two years old by responsibility for Jacob's condition. He has Asperger's syndrome, making him, although exhibiting exceptional intelligence, hopeless in expressing himself well and reading social cues. His interest in forensic analysis has made him a fixture in police crime scenes, telling them what to do which usually turns out right. However, when a friend was murdered, the police suspect him and take his Asperger's symptoms to imply guilt.

I read an interview of Picoult regarding this new book here and it was good that she really did her homework with regards to Asperger's syndrome, forensic analysis, and the legal issues involved. However, if I were to do like Jacob and pretend that this novel is a CrimeBusters episode, I'd say I solved the murder just right after Chapter 2. A murder mystery this is not; I'd like to think this is more of a-love-between-brothers story, or an-inside-look-into-the-Asperger's-syndrome, or better yet, a simple family's love and struggle for normalcy amid mental/psychological illness.

Most of the time, I wonder about what other people think while they are doing something. What is going through the butcher's head while cutting a pig open; or what a mother thinks about while slapping a wayward child's face? This novel definitely provides a lot of insight into each of the character's heads, even Jacob's. I like the depth of her imagination, that she was able to give a good impression of what's running inside an aspie's head; but it is not only imagination that she was able to pull it off properly, her research gave a lot of credibility into her words.

Story-wise, I thought the pacing was very good, and I like the sprinkling of real-life murder cases in some parts, all of which are trying to say, "It's not what it seems." It encouraged the readers to really dig deeper and use their imaginations to figure out what is going to happen. I really think that the author wanted the reader to solve the mystery, but it would have been better if she added another twist or so, that way maybe I wouldn't have been able to solve the murder earlier, and prolonged the suspense more.

The character development is also satisfying. I like how Emma, the mother, the one who devoted her whole life for Jacob's well-being, was finally able to recognize and fulfill her own needs but not ignoring her responsibilities. I like how Theo finally found the answers to his questions, and dissolved his desire to become apathetic to his brother's plight.

Overall, this book is very insightful, informative, and interesting. The characters are very lovable, even Theo in all his teenage angst. This is a book worth reading and re-reading with the rest of your family that will definitely draw you closer and appreciate the compassion that you give each other.

I Need More Plastic Cover

I have finished reading House Rules by Jodi Picoult and was supposed to post the book review today, but I had to run some errands. Before going home, I went to the mall and looked at some books. Sadly, the book selection in our local bookstore is totally useless. I can still remember a time when the books on display are pretty readable, but now, everywhere, all I can see are vampire books. Now, I'm not against vampire literature, actually I've been quite obsessed with Anne Rice's Lestat character; it's just that I'm not digging the current vampire phenomena where vampires are not anymore the feared and mystical creatures that they used to be.

But enough about vampires.

So as I was going through all the books, my mood getting bleaker and bleaker at the moment, I found copies of Jane Eyre and other classic literature for Php 99 (that's about USD 2.25). Suddenly, an idea struck me. I remembered that there was a shop for secondhand and surplus books in the mall so I went to check it out. I remember I got my Thomas Harris and John Grisham books from there when I was still in college and money was very limited but I needed a good read. The first thing that caught my eye? A hardback copy of The Brethren by John Grisham! I spent about half an hour digging through piles and piles of old and used books, while imagining myself lounging around the house reading for a whole week or so.

The good thing about secondhand shops, sometimes their book selection might surprise you. I found a good copy of Kiss The Girls by James Patterson and added it to my heap. In the end, I got six books. When I paid for it, my total purchase amounted to Php 360 - about USD 8.20! If I went the brand-new route, I'd only get one book for that price, or 3 copies of the classics, which I've already read anyway. To break down:

The Brethren by John Grisham (hardback) - Php 125 or USD 2.86
Kiss The Girls by James Patterson - Php 95 or USD 2.17
Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (hardback) - Php 40 or USD 0.92
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells - Php 20(!) or USD 0.46
Love Lessons by Sandra Lee - Php 40 or USD 0.92
Return To Sender by Rebecca Winters - Php 40 or USD 0.92

The last three books I bought with my mom in mind. She has been railing on me to get a copy of the movie, but either I'm going blind or I just can't really find the DVD so I thought to just get the book, since I inherited the bibliophile gene from her anyway. She loves romance novels too, hence the last two books.

Ah... Book retail therapy at its best.

*UPDATE: I just discovered I did not put in the name of the store, it's Booksale, and most malls in Manila have one.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nina vs. Nina: A Comparison of Myself to the Character from the Book, The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

I once Googled my name and The Bermudez Triangle came up, where I found that one of the characters have the same name as I do. Nina Bermudez. After a few months, I actively began to look for it in several bookstores, until one day, I got my very own. Despite the title, though, Nina Bermudez is not the main, main character in the book. She shared the spotlight with her two best friends, Avery and Mel.

Nina from the book:

  1. Tall, cocoa-skinned - "...her mother was black and her father was Cuban (and white)..."
  2. The known 'achiever' among her friends
  3. The planner
  4. Went to a summer college program
  5. President of the Student Council, hence, in charge of every school activity
  6. Had a long-distance relationship and only spoke with her boyfriend over the phone and through email and IM
  7. Felt 'excluded' from her friends' lives when she returned from the summer program
  8. Got caught in the middle when her friends broke up
  9. Long-distance boyfriend broke up with her over the phone
  10. Found a not-boyfriend in Parker
  11. (Presumably) Got back with long-distance ex-boyfriend when he apologized
  12. "TiVos every episode of Trading Spaces and What Not to Wear because watching people rip down bad decorations, cast aside bad clothes—these things soothe her."
  13. Styled her hair in Princess Leia buns, and then later cut it to get Diva Hair

The 'me' Nina:

  1. Tall, though I'm not really sure what to call my skin color but it's got yellow undertones - I'm Asian.
  2. Used to be the known 'achiever' among friends - I now have a new reputation of being the clown and the canine.
  3. The planner
  4. I did not go to a summer college program, but I did a lot of studying and going to class during summers when I was in college, does that count?
  5. Never went into school politics
  6. Had a long-distance relationship with a younger guy
  7. Felt 'excluded' from my friends after graduation
  8. Never had any friends who hooked up with each other, but I did have my share of getting caught in the middle of things, like fights.
  9. Long-distance boyfriend broke up with me through text. How lame is that?
  10. Found a rebound guy that only made things worse
  11. Got another boyfriend who lived (almost) close by
  12. Only watches TV for the commercials. Water soothes me.
  13. Has only two hairstyles: A pony tail and witch hair
As I read through the novel, I thought, "why is Nina so flat?" her character was so flat, it gave my chest some competition. But then, it's not like the whole story is about her, there were her friends to write about too. She did have her moments, though, I love how she did not let the feeling of being 'excluded' from her friends' lives get to her that much and still tried her best to be great friends with them. What happened next was not her fault though, she had to go with the flow. However, those things did not prevent her from helping Melanie move on and come out. As for Avery, I'd like to think that she did not really push Avery away, especially that time when she got her hair cut; her boyfriend just broke up with her so of course she'd feel out of sorts and would not want to spend time with other people for a while. When she did admit that she did not like what Avery did, she clarified that it was not Avery she hated, so at least it meant that there was still something in her that would welcome her friend back.

I was very happy with what she did in the ending. She forgave Avery, without question, without any explanation. I'm still getting over the fact that she is considering getting back together with Steve, but I liked what she said: "Sometimes you have to let people say they're sorry." She's got a very forgiving heart, not very much like moi. She was even the one who initiated that the three of them, The Bermudez Triangle, triangle off once again, after months of being confused, separated, and estranged. She took the step towards turning a whole new leaf for the three of them, preserving their friendship, to proving that friends do stick together til the end.

On that, I think Nina is a better person than I am. Things happened between me and some friends, and it was I who excluded myself, much like Avery. However, I don't think Nina's treatment of Parker was very nice, no matter that it was the latter's fault he got hurt. She should not have asked him to be the 'not-boyfriend' since she knows he likes her a lot and she was not very sure of herself that time, that she might end up just hurting him. Admirably for Parker though, he was able to bounce back. Man I love that character.

The problem with going into a relationship (not-boyfriend thing included) so soon after a breakup is almost like just saying outright what's on your mind when you're really angry. Most of the time, whatever you said would come back and haunt you. Better let the anger pass and then compose yourself before saying something you might regret. In this case, Nina and I made the same mistake - we went on the rebound. We deluded ourselves - into thinking that the next guys could help us forget. In that, we were very wrong. I just compounded the pain I was feeling, while Nina hurt a really great friend (really tough talking about another person with the same name). At least she still gained Parker's friendship.

What I identified with her the most though, was how our boyfriends broke up with us. Over the phone. Through text. "She sat on the floor and thought about the fact that nothing changes when the boyfriend who was never there suddenly goes away." That was exactly how I felt too. But just because the relationship was long distance did not make the pain hurt any less. If anything, it hurt more because we, Nina and I, did not even get a chance to see our boyfriends before the breakup.

I'm pretty sure the similarities end there. I don't really want to make people think I'm deluded enough to think that this character was totally molded after me. After all, the author and I live continents apart. And I'm pretty sure I am not an organizing freak that it almost bordered on OCD, and Nina's not too hyper and emotional that it bordered on bipolar.

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

(Photo taken from Maureen Johnson's website)

Title: The Bermudez Triangle
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Penguin/Razorbill
Category: Young Adult
Language: English
ISBN - 10:
ISBN - 13: 978-1595140197


Nina Bermudez, Avery Dekker, and Melanie Forrest have been friends way back when. They have never been apart, which is why it stressed Mel and Avery out when Nina had to go on a college program for the summer. Not soon after, they fall in love with each other and begin a relationship. Nina, on the other hand, meets Steve, falls in love, and gets totally bummed when they had to return home at the end of the program. She expected to come back to her friends and continue where they left off, but they appear to not want her around that much anymore; plus, she's missing Steve a lot. Then, by accident, she sees her friends kissing and the 'triangle' is never the same again.


The real reason I bought this book was not because the plot seemed intriguing (that was the second), but because I have the same name as one of the characters, Nina Bermudez. But more on that in another post.

I like that the story is more friendship-themed than romantic-themed. I like that it tackled gay relationships, even more, I like that it tackled falling in love with your friend - stuff that a lot of teens have a hard time coping with. In a now more gender-open society, it is still not uncommon for gay people to have a hard time coming out. I like how the author crafted Mel's character in that in the end, although she had already come to terms with her own sexuality a long time ago, she was also able to come out and gain a little perspective and strength to stand up for herself and what she is. On the other hand, the relationship between Parker and Nina and Avery and Mel showed the difficulties of falling in love with a friend, which is almost always the reason why most people think it's a complicated set-up. One day you're best friends, the next day you're lovers, and the next day you're lost - breaking up not the just the relationship but also the friendship in the process. In the end, I like how the author makes them come together and resolve their differences, as that is how real friendship is supposed to be.

However, I felt that most of my interest in the story is not focused on the main characters. Not even by Nina, who's my namesake and who seemed just a little bit too, well, me. Even though I could see a lot of myself in her, it felt that she and her two friends were too flat for their own good. There's the smart one, the cute one, and the cool one. The blue one, the pink one, and the green one. After a while, I got tired of reading about how Nina was too busy with student council and is the morally upright rich citizen, how Mel was too shy and sappy and the one with the secret, and how Avery is all grunge and spunk and plays kickass music. What saved the day, though, were the secondary characters, Parker in particular, who I liked a lot because he's got some more substance. He seemed to be the big brother type but is also cute, loves to joke, has great comebacks for almost anything hurled in his way, and proved to be a very loyal friend. Not really yellow, but not just orange - more like yellow-orange, and I think you'll agree that it looks better than either colors on their own.

As for the story, the pacing was good, warm, and entertaining. All my questions were answered by the end of the novel. I'm pretty sure that this book's target audience, young adults, would definitely enjoy reading this story with its simple, undemanding personality. As for an 'older' person like me, it suddenly brought back memories, and a sense of nostalgia for old friends and the part they played in creating the person that I am now. This coming-of-age story of a friendship of three girls will definitely have you laughing, crying, falling in love, and smiling at how real friends complete you and help you mature.