[I’ve been away! I’ve tried to thin this out a bit so it’s not three times as long as usual… but I promise nothing.
Yea it’s long. Sorry!]
Cecelia Ahern published another book, so of course I had to read it!
The difference this time is that this is her first “Young Adult” novel. This is a concept I’m struggling to get my head around – Wikipedia defines “Young Adult” as age 12-18, but as someone in my 20s, I’d like to think that makes me an adult who is young?! Anyway, I loved hunger games and that’s technically young adult, so I wasn’t going to avoid it just because I’m “old”.
As all of these books seem to be set in a dystopian society. As well as a criminal system, they also have the concept of people who are “flawed”. These are people who have made done something immoral. If someone is flawed, they are branded as such, and wear a red armband to show who they are. I’ll let the book explain further:
“For bad decisions, it’s their temple.
For lying, it’s their tongue.
For stealing from society, it’s their right palm.
For disloyalty to the Guild, it’s their chest, over their heart.
For stepping out of line with society, it’s the sole of their right foot.”
“They are not imprisoned; they haven’t done anything illegal, but they have carried out acts that are seen as damaging to society.”
They live a life of reduced quality. They live by a curfew, they can only eat plain food, they have to sit on certain seats on the bus, and they can only ever have 2 of them together in one place, any more and there must be a “perfect” person. Even sat in a row, you couldn’t have more than two sat together.
We meet Celestine, who is dating the son of the head of the Guild and totally believes in the system. And yet, she has a moment where she helps a Flawed, which itself is a crime, and she is taken away to be tried. I don’t want to go much further because it would give away some of the major twists, but just to say that I couldn’t put it down as it progressed.
I cannot *wait* for the sequel!
Some of my favourite quotes below:
- “The trouble with being punctual is that there’s nobody there to see it.”
- “I’ve learned that to be courageous is to feel fear within, every step of the way. Courage does not take over; it fights and struggles through every word you say and every step you take. […] It takes courage to overcome, but it takes extreme fear to be courageous.”
- “Piano always seemed to stress me out. I played it for other people. I played it for Angelina in class, I played it for my parents when I practised. […] I never played for myself.”
- “If you make a mistake, you learn from it. If you never made a mistake, you’re never the wiser.”
- “I had enough friends so that I wasn’t a weirdo, but not too many so that I was popular. I was average. I worked so hard to be average.”
- “If you can’t solve a problem, there is an easier problem you can solve: find it.”
I wrote this recently for our work intranet… people seemed to appreciate it so I thought I’d bung it on here too…
When I was at university I studied Mathematical Sciences (essentially Applied Maths), this meant an awful lot of contact hours plus countless problem sheets for when you weren’t in lectures or tutorials. In short, if you weren’t on campus you always had some work over your head that you knew you should be doing. When I graduated I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but one of the few things I knew was that I wanted my evenings and weekends back – definitely no further study or graduate schemes!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of going the extra mile, of hard work, of giving one’s best, but at the same time I’m also a huge advocate of looking after ourselves, of letting ourselves look after ourselves. I truly believe it’s important to have a good work life balance, to take lunch breaks, to log any overtime done to make sure time is taken back. I believe it’s an important element of health – physical, mental and emotional; it’s not laziness, it’s self-care.
Not only that, I think it makes us better employees. I can definitely bear witness that working through lunch means I’m pretty much useless all afternoon, which is why unless there is something very urgent or important on, you will always see me take a full hour break. That one hour vs the three in the afternoon with decent productivity is a good balance! If we keep doing the extra without taking time to rest, we risk burn-out.
Of course there are exceptions. In January this year I was in this office until 10.30pm for a major data pull, which was important at the time, (and I made it home just before the Indian takeaway closed!), as long as it doesn’t become a regular habit.
We’re told in the Bible, by God, to rest on the Sabbath, Jesus himself rested – what better example could we have?
We need to have grace with ourselves to let ourselves look after ourselves.