Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2014 Reading Challenge [check]

Last week of November. This year is coming to an end soon (maybe too soon?) and this makes me get out my New Year's Resolution for 2014 and check out the things that I managed to complete and try to still complete the things that were left out (or forgotten, to be completely honest). 

One thing I managed to complete this year is my GoodReads reading challenge. I must confess this is not the first time I am taking this challenge, But it is the first time I am completing it. 
I am glad that between work, crazy Master's schedules, writing my dissertation paper and personal life stuff I did manage to find time to unwind with a book in my hands. I am very glad I did stick to it. 

I'm definitely going to go bigger next year! And judging from the list this year it is probably going to be a pretty "colorful" and experimental one as well. But we'll just have to wait and see ...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Eight Twenty Eight by Ian & Larissa Murphy

They met in college and fell in love. They talked about getting married, and he started looking for a ring. They dreamed about life together, a life of beauty and joy, raising babies and laughing with friends and growing old.

They did not imagine a car accident. They did not imagine his brain injury. They did not dream about the need for constant care and a wheelchair and fear that food might choke him. 
And they could not have imagined how persistent love would be. Theirs and God's. 

A beautiful love story, but not the kind you see everyday. But the kind that is more commitment and less feeling, more decision and less emotion, more like the love that stays and doesn't give up. It is a story full of loss and love, joy and sorrow woven together. 

Larissa presents the insides of her love and life story with Ian before and mostly after the accident that left him with a brain injury. This story is mostly based on her journal entries, which gives the story depth and detail as well as appropriate emotional context. There are also some of Ian's perspectives as well as his family's, but mostly, we are being presented with Larissa's perspective on her life journey with Ian through accident that changed their lives. 

What I loved the most about this book was the rawness of emotions presented. I loved the fact that Larissa was brutally honest (it maybe seem brutal sometimes, but I felt it honest, raw and realistic) about what she felt throughout the whole time since the accident. It gives this book authenticity, it dissolves all hints of perfection or fakeness, and it points to the One that sustains a person through a time like theirs. 

What I also loved was the writing. Most of the details of the story are from Larrisa's journal entries, from the exact time they happened, and they are so beautifully written. I found myself highlighting paragraphs of the book because I feel in love with the way she chose to enunciate certain emotions and seasons of life. The descriptive side of the book is just beautiful. I would say she is a true writer. 

The book has the perfect ending. You might have the tendency to put Larissa on a pedestal and admire her for the decisions she made throughout the whole journey after Ian's accident, especially for the fact that she chose to stay. But the ending makes clear the fact that such thoughts are to be put away: "When we see Larissa and Ian together, we should not be amazed at her devotion and love. Instead we should be pointed to Christ, amazed by his love for us and the miracle it is that we can reflect even a portion of that.
I think it offers a Christ-centered perspective on relationships. Not only romantic relationships, but this can be translated on friendships as well. And the idea of loving to the end and staying even when things get hard is something our society doesn't promote. So I believe this is a perfect book for everyone who wants an encouragement and an image of what true and godly relationships should look like.

I encourage you to find out more about Ian & Larissa's story. I was first introduced to their story some time ago though their Youtube video that was going viral at that time. Here you have it:

:: Quotes::
I liked talking to Ian, but he still hadn't taken up residence in my thought patterns yet. 
Sometimes he just lived in a different world. But it was a world that I needed. 
Winning my heart  over and over was a challenge he had looked forward to and spent a lot of time coordinating. He often used laughter as a sharp tool to get to my heart, when he wasn't using well-orchestrated, well-intended deceit. 
We loved strongly, but with bouts of fear and timidity. We loved without knowing what we would do with it or why we had been giving it or if it would last as long as we hoped. 
My mind didn't have a map for this new place that led to where Ian was. Nothing was familiar and I didn't have a compass. My eyes darted around, trying to process and store information. 
And yet often, even as I would thank God for what He was doing , my mind would trace back to what Ian was like before the accident, a habit which had a way of stealing any gratefulness. 
I listen. I love to listen and wait for his mind. 
To everyone else they will just look like random, unplanned smudges of contrasting colors and lines on a page. But to me they will be lanterns that kill the ghosts of the coma he used to live inside. 
I run away from it, my heart tugging at my legs to run and run faster - away from the darkness, away from the unknown, through the huge bushes of burdock, running toward something that looks brighter and less fearsome. (...) The home and the comfort and the stillness are pulling me, but I know I must go back, must turn into the darkness and follow it. 
"Isn't this what I was called to do?" I think to myself. The life of dependency on the One who made me? This life that doesn't make me comfortable, because the discomfort is exactly what I need to make heaven more irresistible?

* I have requested this book from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.