The first time I heard the term “retelling,” I expected it to refer to reimagined fairytales. I didn’t exactly expect these to be simply be stories inspired by fairytales. Stepsister, however, is exactly that which I had originally expected of a retelling. It builds upon the well-loved fairytale of Ashputtel, blood and all. It was entertaining with its dark humour as it continued to tell the story of how it might have continued. Stepsister was more detailed since it’s a novel rather than a short story but stylistically, it still very much read like a fairytale.
I’m not particularly fond of books in which the entire plot revolves around travelling from point A to point B. Yet, I tend to be drawn to road trip novels. I suppose this stems in part from the fact that I suffer from motion sickness. Actual road trips therefore aren’t exactly enjoyable. And so, reading is a way for me to experience these vicariously. On that front, Mariam Sharma Hits the Road absolutely delivered. I felt right at home with this trio.
Sofia and the Utopia Machine fills an important space in Singapore literature not only as an young adult book but as science fiction. I don’t remember coming across any local YA books when I was in primary and secondary school. In fact, when I was still in secondary school, I wasn’t interested in Singapore literature precisely because it seemed to be geared towards adults. In that regard, it’s heartening that local YA books have gained more visibility in recent years.
Good satire makes you laugh while simultaneously reflecting on the subject matters. Rooted in reality, it makes you wonder how serious these characters are (very) but then on second thought you realise that they’re world views are so black and white, they couldn’t be for real. With that in mind, Borowitz used satire very effectively in Family and Other Catastrophes. Emily was so neurotic but with the kind of mother she had, it kind of made sense. Her sister Lauren, was fully committed to feminist social activism, in stark contrast to their brother, Jason, who was a desperate divorcé and quite the sexist.