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When life becomes overwhelming, I like to retreat to the little corner in my room where I store all my books. As I recently scanned through my mini-library, I noticed two books I completely forgot about. When I purchase books, my usual practice is to read them instantly. It’s almost like a new movie waiting to be watched, so how could I ever miss it? With my pressing assignments and deadlines shoved in the back of my mind, I delved into the books. As soon as I opened the first page, I spent every waking minute finishing the two books cover to cover. Now, I feel as though it is my duty to spread the news: these books were amazing! There was something about breaking away from the world and transporting to the land of the pages that made the experience richer. Here is my review of these two books: How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa and Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley. 

How to Pronounce Knife

A collection of short stories that showcase the struggles and experiences immigrants are often faced with. Thammavongsa does an extraordinary job displaying the emotions, highs and lows and the messy moments of life in its truest form - raw and exposed. Thammavongsa wastes no time in reaching the climax of these stories; the emotions of the characters can be felt from the beginning and end of every chapter. The stories follow characters such as a young girl asking her father about the pronunciation of a word she learned at school, a boxer who commits to a job at a nail salon, and an immigrant woman whose hard work becomes a stepping-stone for someone else. The 14 short stories the book includes are all uniquely different. The importance of the stories go beyond the common immigrant narrative - they illustrate the trials and tribulations of re-discovering one’s identity in a foreign land and the love and heartbreak that ensues. 

Words in Deep Blue

I received this book from my favourite bookstore, The Book Wardrobe, located in Streetsville Mississauga. I was told it was a love story set between the pages of books. As the hopeless romantic I was, I wasted no time reading the book cover to cover - and I was certainly not disappointed. Words in Deep Blue is the story of Rachel and Henry, childhood best friends that attempt to navigate the messy world in front of them. The specialness of this book is in its references to other great works. Other literary works are beautifully incorporated into the story to further the storyline and showcase common themes in literature. The setting of this story is within a second-hand bookstore, where the concept of the letter library is introduced. The letter library is where readers can write within the margins of books, hoping a stranger will one day respond. The book especially resonated with me because it displayed the unexpected nature of life and its fragility. My favourite quote from the book was, “Sometimes science isn’t enough. Sometimes you need the poets.” If you want a book that evokes emotions of love, heartbreak and joy, look no further, Words in Deep Blue delivers all that and more. 

Janvi Bedi

McMaster '23

Janvi Bedi is a student at McMaster University with a concentration in Honours Life Science. Some of Janvi’s passions include reading, writing, and giving back to the community. She is excited to pursue her love for writing at HerCampus McMaster!
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