When my friend, and I visited a bookstore, she looked at Cecelia Ahern’s books, and observed that she would read her books after a heavy-read. I remembered that when I finished reading Laurel Braitman’s Animal Madness. Since it was replete with research material, and heartrending stories, I wanted to read something light. I picked up Cecelia Ahern’s The Gift. Before I share my thoughts on the book, I must ask if I was the last one on the planet to read her works. 😉 Of course, I watched the mushy PS I Love You, and shed buckets of tears, but it didn’t occur to me to try her books. But today, I am glad I tried.
Lou Suffern is like most of us. He wants to be at a meeting that would catapult his career, and he is also expected to watch a drama in which his daughter plays a leaf. Even when kissing his wife goodbye, he plays his Powerpoint presentation in his mind. Ahern says numerous times throughout the book that Lou wants to be in two places at the same time. Lou struggles to strike a clever balance between work and life, and the more he battles, he appears less humane.
A couple of days before Christmas, Lou meets a mysterious, charming, homeless man called Gabe. For reasons that escape his logic, Lou offers him a job, and things begin to derail in his life after Gabe’s recruitment. As much as Lou thinks that Gabe is after his job and life, the enchanting, philosophical man, only saves Lou from many a predicament. Gabe’s incomprehensible choice to help Lou unnerves the latter. Because of his fear, Lou keeps insulting Gabe. And like every other protagonist, Lou understands Gabe’s intentions at the end, and makes best use of the gift offered by Gabe. (Of course, I didn’t spoil.) 🙂
I was supremely in love with the first few chapters. Ahern seemed to have enjoyed herself, while describing the Irish houses, and Christmas mornings. And, this passage is one of my favourites.
“People, like houses, hold their secrets. Sometimes the secrets inhabit them, sometimes they inhabit their secrets. They wrap their arms tight to hug them close, twist their tongues around the truth. But after time, truth prevails, rises above all else. It squirms and wriggles inside, grows until the swollen tongue can’t wrap itself around the lie any longer, until the time comes when it needs to spit the words out and send the truth flying through the air and crashing into the world. Truth and time always work together alongside one another.”
Besides Gabe, everyone in The Gift was ordinary. But, the story drew me in, and I kept saying, “Ahern is philosophical. I didn’t know.” The book’s a satisfying mixture of fantasy, philosophy, and mystery.
As The Gift got slightly preachy at the end — that is not a complaint really — I thought of the difficult choices we are forced to make. I observed a moment of silence for the all the weekends I spent working, for all the family gatherings I missed, for all the tiny, warm moments that I failed to notice. Cecelia Ahern warned her readers at the end:
“It is time that we do not have enough of; it is time that causes the war within our hearts… Time can’t be given. But it can be shared.”