Continuing with the tradition of bad jokes; I never thought I would be writing a book recommendation about a Cecelia Ahern book. The first and possibly only Cecelia Ahern book I started off before this was “Where Rainbows End”. I dropped the book after thirty pages because it just seemed so, stupid. “Where Rainbows End” seemed like a drag of a book which was full of characters who made weird choices all the time. The characters just seemed to be, I don’t know, too unbelievable.
“The Gift” though, is a book that warrants a read. It has a very beautiful concept. It stars Lou as the protagonist of the book. Lou, like most people alive today, has the odd illness of being at two places at once. When he is in the shower, he is thinking about presentations and meetings he had to give in the day. When he is listening to his five year old daughter, he is also listening to the news. When he is having breakfast, he is thinking about lunch. At lunch, dinner. At dinner, after drinks. At after drinks, about something else if he is lucky enough and hasn’t had much to drink. And just like that, he is always at two places at once.
It is obviously a condition we all relate to. We’re having breakfast and we’re still tired. Thinking about how bad our sleep last night was or the drag of a day we will have to suffer. Then at lunch, we think about how much we have braved and what little is left more to brave. And when we finally reach home, we throw ourselves on our beds, confident we are too tired to do anything else and thinking about what kind of a day it was or what we will do, when we have energy or on Saturday or Sunday. Always thinking about what we can do or where we want to be without actually enjoying where we are.
The other tie in issue that crops up every now and then is greed. The want for more. Want for a bigger office, more pay, a more material life, and more extra-marital affairs. Lou is the embodiment of all this. He has affairs with his secretaries, his nanny and so many more women in his office He wants the job that was recently vacated by his colleague after a nervous breakdown. He wants the bigger office, the higher pay. And he works all the time for it. He rarely spends time with his family. His wife, his five year old daughter or his ten month old son. He thinks what matters are the car he drives, how much he earns and provides; not how much time he spends with his family. He doesn’t admire his wife, he doesn’t play with his daughter. He doesn’t know how to handle his son. Hell, Lou has never changed his diaper. Lou has forgotten what matters in life.
The plot is very hackneyed. It has been done so many times, by so many people that when you start reading the book, you can’t help but feel that this book will just be another run of the mill drama. But the first word on, this book has something you know will salvage it, even if the plot falters towards the end (even though it does not. WOOOHOOO!!). Because Cecelia Ahern does the one thing most writers prefer not to do: She takes very tough and brutal decisions for her characters.
Cecelia Ahern’s writing style in this book is terrific. The ways he describes every little detail, be it about the neighbourhood on Christmas morning, or a Police Station, or a little living arrangement in a basement is terrific. Or the way she describes greed. That is one definition you will not be forgetting for a long time. She uses beautiful similes and metaphors to make the environments most people won’t be familiar with feel instantly relatable.
The way Ahern writes about Lou, is the way a human would react in all those situations. No matter how melodramatic or whiny or loser like, if you may it feels. The way he reacts when some weird things happen and the way he is reckless and greedy and eventually reforms himself. It all feels real. At one point, I actually thought she was trying to keep Lou as an asshole. But it was only after I thought long and hard and re-read those words did I understand how wrong I was. Change in humans cannot come all at once, unlike what many stories say. And Cecelia Ahern knows that. She knows that people cannot change in a single day or through a single action. Their old habits, their pre-conceived notions and biases cannot all go away in a single day or a single act. Many books will have you that a person can change in a single day with a single act, but those books have characters who have some other worldly seeming powers. Lou has no such things. Even after he starts doing what he loves, his habits still keep on following him, and he caves in, and that’s not necessarily bad.
In all honesty, I never thought I would ever be writing a book recommendation for a book by Cecelia Ahern. But “The Gift” caught me off guard. It’s a book that I would akin to the various drama movies that pass us by in the theatres, but much better. It’s not the best, but it’s a book that is a casual read, with its simple story and simple words. A great way to kill some time and read a good story while at it.