Saturday, July 9, 2016

[Book] What Things Mean by Sophia Lee

Things mean different meanings to people.

What Things Mean | noun
1. 2014 Scholastic Asian Book Award winner
2. A young adult book written by Sophia N. Lee
3. A novel that uses special words to define the life of Olive, a fourteen-year-old who is, well, different
4. A story-within-stories that is set in the streets of Metro Manila, Philippines

Olive had always known that she's different from everyone else. However, she had long discovered how to cope with that with a few books, some clippings, and, of course, pickles. But one thing still troubles her. Who exactly is her father? Why won't anyone talk to her about him? Is he the reason why she is so different?

This book features a number of stories that have a similar thread: Olive's journey into discovering who she is in the little things that make up her life, like bristles, stamps, forks, and mirrors. In each story, there is a pronounced yearning not only of a reason for her oddness, but also a cry for a man she may call Dad. Sometimes a little funny, sometimes a little sad, each story takes us into the colorful life of a quiet soul who has never known what it feels like to have an ever-present father.

What Things Mean touched me in many ways, and honestly left me with a few tears. As someone who grew up in Manila (and has learned to love this old metropolis), I liked how real each scene was to me, from the long queues for transportation, to the friendliness of neighbors in my own neighborhood. The stories in themselves reminded me of my own concerns and worries when I was younger, especially since I myself was an introverted girl who found my solace in books.

Each word on each page also made me remember my own little anxieties and relish the kind of thinking I had while growing up. Moreover, the storyline pulled on my heartstrings, as I know how it felt like to lose a parental figure growing up, and how it felt like to have my heart patched, mended, and made somewhat complete again when I came to terms with my personal history.

I enjoyed this book, and I'd gladly recommend it to anyone searching for themselves and their own unknown stories, no matter what age they may be. After all, things mean different meanings to people, and even if we aren't perfect people, maybe we too will discover someday that we've done something right for ourselves.

Check out Sophie's website here.


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