Book Review

The Book Of Longings By Sue Monk Kidd | Book Review

Hey Guys! My name is Max and I will be manufacturing a book review for a novel called The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd today. A very big thank you to Times.Read for sending a copy of this book to me. Well, without further ado, let us get into the review! 

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Synopsis:

“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.”

Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas. He becomes a floodgate for her intellect, but also the awakener of her heart.

Their marriage unfolds with love and conflict, humour and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, James and Simon, and their mother, Mary. Here, Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to the Roman occupation of Israel, partially led by her charismatic adopted brother, Judas. She is sustained by her indomitable aunt Yaltha, who is searching for her long-lost daughter, as well as by other women, including her friend Tabitha, who is sold into slavery after she was raped, and Phasaelis, the shrewd wife of Herod Antipas. Ana’s impetuous streak occasionally invites danger. When one such foray forces her to flee Nazareth for her safety shortly before Jesus’s public ministry begins, she makes her way with Yaltha to Alexandria, where she eventually finds refuge and purpose in unexpected surroundings.

My introspect:

I did not know what to expect when I started reading this novel because all I knew about this book was that it follows the perspective of Jesus’s Wife and colour me surprised when I fell in love with the novel. The content of this novel still stuck with me after a week of finishing it and I have a feeling that it would cling with me for a long time.

If the synopsis confuses you, don’t worry, I am here to assist you. So, this novel is about Ana who is the wife of Jesus and it follows her life from 16 CE to 60 CE. Ana is a girl who loves writing and reading and her mom disapproves of her passions. Her parents then tried to marry her off to some farmer, hoping to gain a piece of land even though they are rich as hell. Her resistance to the marriage to safeguard her passions shows how strong of a person she is. Everything occurs from then on. I am trying to give you as little information as possible because I am trying not to spoil the novel but some of the quotes below might spoil the novel but it is minimal so don’t worry. 

“I’ve heard these reasons tenfold. Traipsing about the countryside exposes us to dangers and hardships. We cause dissension among the men. We are temptations. We are distractions. It’s thought we’re too weak to face dangers and hardship. But do we not give birth? Do we not work day and night? Are we not ordered about and silenced? What are robbers and rainstorm compared to these things”

The writing style of this novel is fucking phenomenal. It is lyrical, poetic and daring. The wordplay in this novel is so beautifully crafted that it makes me want to pick up the author’s other works just to see if I would like it as much as the rest of the books in her catalogue. The only problem I have with the writing style is that the author uses a lot of the word – shit – in her writing and correct me if I am wrong but the word – shit – is not used in the 16th BC so… I am confused? Either way, her writing style is still phenomenal and this novel definitely shows where her strength lies. Oh, I almost forgot, you can visualize everything the author has written on the page clearly in your head. 

This novel is definitely well-paced. It does not linger too long or too short on each scene that the author has set out to craft. However, I thought the third act suffered as the pace has quickened and there are also some unresolved questions that the author has presented but not answered by the end of the novel. Other than that, I thought the pacing was astonishing. 

There are a few important characters in this novel that I would like to share with you and those are Ana, Yaltha, and Tabitha. Ana is headstrong and she is such a feminist and I love that about her. She fights for what is right and she speaks her mind and does not flinch back in the face of adversity. In addition, she writes stories of women who had gone through terrible things to preserve their stories so it will not get lost in history. Her character growth throughout the novel was phenomenal. Every time she is beaten down by terrible men in the novel, she comes back up stronger and smarter. Ana is definitely going to be a figure that will remain in my mind for a long time. Yaltha is Ana’s aunt and she is headstrong like Ana but she hides a secret that will change the course of the event in the novel. Her growth throughout the novel is phenomenal too because we see her vulnerable side as much as we see her strong side. Tabitha has one of the saddest storylines in this novel and I will show you some quotes to give you a glimpse of her story below but just know that I love her.

“She’d misunderstood me I wasn’t wondering why Tabitha shouted her outrage on the street. I was glad she accused her rapist. What I didn’t understand was why such horrors happened at all. Why did men inflict these atrocities? I wiped my face with my sleeve. Through my shock, I pictured Tabitha on the first day of her renewed visits when I’d been rude to her. My father says my mind is weak, and my tongue, weaker, she’d told me then. It seemed now her tongue was not weak, but the fiercest part of her.” (part 1/3)

“Mother, however, was not done rebuking her. “It wasn’t enough that she made a show of cursing the soldier, she cursed her father for trying to seal her lips. She cursed those who passed by and closed their ears to her. She was distraught, and I’m sorry for her, but she shamed herself. She brought dishonour to her father and to her betrothed, who will surely divorce her now.” (part 2/3)

“Rage shredded my breath. It clawed straight through my chest. “What crime did your daughter commit to cause her father to cut her tongue from her mouth? Is it a sin to stand on the street and cry out one’s anguish and beg for justice?” “She brought shame on her father and this house!” her mother viciously exclaimed. “Her punishment is spoken of in Scripture the perverse tongue shall be cut out.” (part 3/3)

The feminism theme in this novel is done ten times better than it did in Blue Ticket By Sophie Mackintosh because it captivates the women living in the 16th BC and how Ana goes against the stereotype and tries to change the views of the women and the men in this novel. This novel has so many sexist imageries and it infuriates me how all these men treat women at that time, as objects of desire and nothing more. Some of the women are sexist against their own sex as well which is just… *sighs*. Sexism is still ever-present in the world we live in today and it seems we have not learned from the mistakes of our ancestors and it is time to change as this has been going on for far too long. 

In conclusion, my final verdict for this novel would be 95% (A+). I enjoyed the themes presented in this novel and how impactful and powerful these characters when they looked into the face of the atrocity that is the world they lived in. So, do pick this book up during your free time! 


This is the end of my review for The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd! I hope you all enjoyed it and follow me with your email/Wordpress account to get notifications when I post a new article! Bye! 

Book Review

Blue Ticket By Sophie Mackintosh | Book Review

Hey Guys! I am Max and I will be reviewing a book called Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh today. Sophie Mackintosh is the author of The Water Cure and Blue Ticket is a new novel that she had published in June. Before we get into the review, I would like to thank Times.Read for sending this novel to me in exchange for a review. Without further ado, let us dive right into the book review section! 

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Synopsis:

Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you children. A blue ticket grants you freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And, once you’ve taken your ticket, there is no going back.

But what if the life you’re given is the wrong one?

Blue Ticket is a devastating enquiry into free will and the fraught space of motherhood. Bold and chilling, it pushes beneath the skin of female identity and patriarchal violence, to the point where human longing meets our animal bodies.

My Introspection:

“My husband found out. He didn’t believe it was an accident. He was disgusted with me. But it wasn’t his body.” – Blue Ticket, Sophie Mackintosh.

So, I was expecting to savour this novel like I savour the taste of Mcdonald’s French Fries but alas, I did not. I was severely disappointed in the content of the novel that the author had handed to me because I can recognise so much potential in the idea and the world the author was trying to create but somehow, both of them managed to get lost in the pages of the novel.

If you enjoy a dystopian world without any world-building or history as to why the system works the way it did, this might be the book for you but it definitely isn’t the book for me. There are only a couple of information thrown around in the novel that could give me a grasp on the system of the world and those are:

(1) There is a lottery that dictates women’s entire life. You may get a Blue-Ticket which signifies freedom BUT you are not to get pregnant. You may get a White-Ticket and your only purpose is to give birth? I think? It is not very clear on that end.

(2) If you get pregnant as a Blue-Ticket, you are instantly an exile and your fellow Blue-Tickets will hate on you and try to murder you?

(3) Men hate getting Blue-Ticket women pregnant and will not hold any responsibility for that matter?

(4) White-Ticket women hate Blue-Ticket women who have gotten themselves pregnant.

(5) If you have done good in the community, the emissaries will give you a head start – 12 hours – to run away and hide before they come to find you.

(6) Oh, I almost forgot, when you get your first bleed, you are required to go to the town you have in mind without any help from the adults. So, yeah that is basically it. Those question marks gave nods to my very confused brain. 

“I told him instead that I’d had agency over the things I had done all through my life, even if not over everything that had been done to me. I told him I was not a branch being broken in a stream, carried along by the water until it snapped. I told him he should give my baby back to me.” – Blue Ticket, Sophie Mackintosh.

We follow Calla’s perspective throughout the novel and I thought the beginning was interesting because it shows the desperation of Calla trying to shed her childhood by taking lots of milk and peanut butter to get her first bleed. It was as if she is trying to get away from her father but at the same time, not trying to get away from her father because the first page of the novel shows how much her father loves her. It is very confusing and I don’t know how to feel. Then, in her adult life, she drinks a lot, smokes a lot and starts developing this ‘dark feeling’ which is to have her own baby and family. She proceeds to use this dude, who is an asshole to say the least, to get the baby. She then turns into a fugitive and she is on the run from the emissaries. I thought everything was interesting up until I reached the section where she decides to settle in the cabin. That section manages to slow everything down. Almost nothing happens most of the time during her stay in the cabin and that made me want to rip my eyeballs out. 

This novel should have gotten multiple perspectives to give a wider view on the world. For example, a perspective from a White-Ticket woman, a perspective from the emissary and a perspective from a man in a high position. This would have provided an insight on the world and also, enhance our perception on how brain-washed everyone is. I thought it was not particularly right to limit the perspective to Calla alone because she is not that interesting of a character and her motives are confusing and most of the time, I do not understand why she did what she did. In addition, there isn’t any character development in the novel which further proves the point of getting more POVs. 

The author has a readable writing style that will make you read the novel compulsively  as you have the urge to know what is coming next. Other than that, the writing style is also very beautiful which will make you crave for more of it but unfortunately, the story isn’t very good and I wish there is a better ending for this novel because I did not like that ending because the ending makes it seem like Calla would conveniently give up stuff instead of fighting for it and also, it makes it seem like the book is pointless.

Ultimately, I understand the message the author is trying to convey. She wants us to perceive the misogyny in the world where women have no control over their freedom, their body and their choice and how extremely infuriating it is. This dystopian world that she has created intersects with the real world albeit the weak world-building. Several quotes in this novel perfectly showcase the real world and it is so frustrating to see how we are living in 2020 and yet, misogyny is still a thing. Thus, I thought the message was delivered well.  

Final Verdict: 50% (D)


This is the end of my review for Blue Ticket By Sophie Mackintosh! I hope you all enjoyed it and follow me with your email/Wordpress account to get notifications when I post a new article! Bye!