My Name is Asher Lev: A Book with an Outfit

I started a book club this year amongst the high school teachers I work with. It’s been a successful little club with the typical book club characteristics. One special perk though is I buy the book for all the teachers: sometimes they know what’s coming while other times I surprise them with a title. Recently, we had an author visitor, Julia Golding, and we read her super YA title called Dragonfly. Oh, it was so good–properly adventurous and romantic all at once. I loved it!! The special treat for our book club was meeting with this famous, UK author. By the end of the meeting, a big question was asked of her: what’s her favorite book? Her answer had me thrilled as it’s one of my favorite books as well–My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok. It was decided; My Name is Asher Lev would be our summer read.

I first read My Name is Asher Lev during my freshman year of high school. To this day it has left me with such memories. Because it has always been a book I recommend to other readers, I decided to read it once again as an adult. The second time through I still loved it. Now this summer when I read it for a third time, I know I will enjoy it all over again.

Take a moment to check out my turquoise mascara! It is very reminiscent to turquoise lined eyes from my freshmen yearbook picture. Once I went into 9th grade, Mom allowed me to start wearing makeup. Finally! And well, I was heavy with the liner for a while! Hahah. To this day I love a little blue and now turquoise mascara. Love it!

A large component of this book is the spiritual conflict that Asher experiences. He’s a born and raised Hasidic Jew with very strong parental expectations to follow his religion closely. Yet, Asher is also a prodigy with an extreme talent for painting–and the subject matter that he cannot resist happens to be crucifixes. This definitely poses a problem for Asher and his devout parents. I don’t have extreme pressures to be Roman Catholic, but I will always recall the disdain I received from my mother for wearing a Hindu Lord Ganesha. After she visited me us India for over six weeks, I think she was able to relate to my appreciation and love for this Hindu god. Because of all the worldly experiences I’ve had, I can’t help but incorporate many faiths into my spirituality–Ganesha being one of my gods right alongside Jesus.

This book also brings back many sartorial memories: like those red patched jeans from Jill Kramp that I’d give anything to still own to this day. Those Levi’s were perfect and the only evidence I have of them is my senior picture. In attempt to be artsy fartsy, I wore my DIY painter jeans that were made with my adorable niece Maeve last summer.

The other item now found in my wardrobe that was ever present back in the late 80s were my penny loafers. Oh, that right foot penny loafer; may it rest at sea at the bottom of Coeur d’Alene. We were on board my father’s new purchase (spurned on my teenage bout of rebellion the night before–but that’s another story!). He had just bought a very big cruiser boat. We had just finished looking at it, when we all departed. I was the last to come off the boat, and as I was stepping on the the dock, the ladder I was holding on to started falling backward. Yes, I fell in to the frigid April lake waters. My dad grasped me by his army jacket that I wore without fail. As he was pulling me out, I felt my right penny loafer slip off, and I couldn’t retrieve it as best I tried. Now as an adult, I have a new pair of penny loafers that I love because of the first pair I owned. RIP right penny loafer shoe from 1988!

Gosh, I wish I still had my dad’s army jacket it too. It was so RAD–literally it was. It had a few medal pins on it plus the writing of his name and number. This is another item like the red patched jeans that I don’t recall giving away yet to this day wonder why I would do so. The “RAD” tee was an obvious choice for this homage to my late 1980s high school years. It was a word I consistently used then; it’s a word I so frequently (and nerdily so) use to this day. From penny loafers to painted jeans, to being rad and falling in frigid lake water in my dad’s waterlogged army jacket, it’s comforting to know I can pull out special items reminiscent of my high school days. It’s as if nothing has changed, but then everything has. And now, with my third reading of My Name is Asher Lev this summer, I wonder how I will interpret it one more time. One thing is for sure: I know I will enjoy it all over again because it is an amazing book!

The Sun is Also a Star: A Book with an Outfit

I’ve made a conscious decision to post at least one book in one of my outfit posts a month. Last month it was The Twentieth Wife. This month it’s The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon. Oh, this author! She is absolutely amazing. First, I was enthralled with Everything Everything–which I hear has now been made into a movie, but we all know the book will remain better. Then, because I adored reading Everything Everything, I couldn’t wait for The Sun is Also a Star to get back into the library. I even put a hold on the title. And, oh, it did not disappoint. Both books are totally different, but the way Yoon writes completely grabs and sucks the reader in. I know I’m reading an amazing book when it becomes both my home and school reading material. I especially know I’m reading a good book when I purposely tag along to be left behind in a park to read while Kevin hikes and Gigi has basketball. That was the case on this Saturday when I finally finished The Sun is Also a Star. Is it enough just to tell you to read Nicola Yoon? Or do you want a synopsis? Ok, fine. Keep reading….

I love a story with multiple narrations which The Sun is Also a Star has. Natasha is a 16 year old illegal immigrant from Jamaica who will be deported within the day. She’s also a realist believing in scientific fact. Daniel is a sentimental Korean American who cries if he ever sees anyone crying. He’s also aware that he aspires to be a poet, but with Korean parents, they already have his plan of life outlined. These two individuals’ paths cross–more than once, and every time they cross, fireworks both implode and explode. Along with their narrations little factual tidbits are included from facts about African hair wigs to side stories of other characters. Basically, I never wanted to put this book down; rather I wanted to keep reading, learn more about the characters, and hope for an impossible happy ending…

PS Nicola Yoon, I sure hope you’ll want to come to Hong Kong when I invite you for next school year!