What I Learned - Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic
Sympathy, the debut novel from Olivia Sudjic, arrived in my brilliant Reading In Heels subscription box last month - watch out for a subscription box "unboxing" post in the near future!
What I Learned:
This really made me stop and catch my breath. How often in life do we see what we want to see rather than what is actually there, do we manipulate the actual circumstances in our mind to fit our idea of how we want things to be? Maybe we need to make more of an effort to deal with reality and fact rather than our take on it.
In our house at the moment my gorgeous 15 year old daughter is feeling all this pressure to decide what she wants to do after...after school, after exams, just after. And I feel for her. I'm approaching middle age fast and still don't really know what I want to do when I grow up! I guess the ideal would be to find something you love and then find a way to let you do that every day.
This reminds me of a few of my favourite places in Scotland. In reality about as far from New York as you can imagine, not many people, hardly any buildings, but the view changes constantly. The sea, the beach, the sky, the light. And it's just incredible to watch. And unbelievably soothing. One of life's greatest pleasures.
It's the littlest acts every day that really give us roots and make us remember who we are. And often remind us of our loved ones when they are not with us. The way your mum makes scrambled eggs or puts your slippers on the radiator for you coming in from school. The way your dad butters toast or always coughs at the same point when walking around to the back of the house. It's the little seemingly meaningless things that you remember for a lifetime.
I guess I've learned this the hard way. The only person you can ever really count on for your happiness is you. And the only person you can really count on too. I'm not sure if this makes me cynical or a realist. But it's the way I am now!
A small word of kindness, asking someone how their day has been, complimenting their scarf...all cost us nothing and take seconds but you have no idea the impact these tiny little things can have on another person. Make the effort to be kind in small ways. It's always worth it!
I just love this concept. It's here simply because it made me smile!
I'm a complete and utter book geek and I don't believe that novels, especially smart, clever, well constructed novels, will ever die out. I adore this analogy!
Let go, accept and deal with it. But with the reality not the "what ifs" or the "could happens". Always remember to keep moving forward and there's nothing that you can't work out.
Yes Man by Danny Wallace is one of my all time favourite books. If you've not read it I thoroughly recommend it! It's amazing and I read it at least once a year. It's a good reminder of the unexpected ways that life can take you if you are just open to it. A yes person is always a great type of person to be!
This jumped out at me because it is so true...but if you stop, take a breath and listen to your gut then I have to believe that 99 times out of 100 you will make the right call!
This ties into the "Yes Man" thing. Keep walking, keep going, what's the worse that could happen?!
I find this passage absolutely heart-wrenching. This must be a horrific feeling for a child. To feel that your mum has put a man, in this case a mystery man, before her wants and feelings. I don't always succeed but the one thing I have always tried to do is make my daughter's life better in any way I can. She is ALL that matters.
Here because it's just another amazingly perceptive observation.
Is this true? Or do we own the way we react to the things that happen to us? Could it be a little bit of both?
Tears of happiness or tears of sadness. I think that kissing someone who's crying, or letting someone close enough to kiss you when you're crying, is quite possibly the ultimate intimacy, the ultimate 'letting down of walls.'
*****BAD LANGUAGE WARNING*****
Haven't we all felt like this at one point or another? It's so difficult to know if something is worth holding on to or if walking away early on is the right thing to do...it's at this point that a crystal ball would come in handy. There's no real solution. I guess the thing to do is surround yourself with great friends who you know love you for you, and they may just be the ones to help you see the wood for the trees...that is, of course, only if you are prepared to hear them!
This made me think about something relevant for this time of year. Which is more heartfelt, and which do you appreciate more - the person with the big expendable income who can afford to lavish gifts, and does, but does so often with little thought and little sacrifice, or the person who struggles to find the perfect gift with the little they have, often doing so by going without themselves? It's worth thinking about. Sometimes it's not the value that counts, but the thought.
a beautiful description of how it feels to lose someone or something that matters, and dealing with the reality versus the often irrational hope.
I found myself really thinking about this after I'd read it. It's completely true! Taking it one step further we are teaching our kids this whilst demonstrating a double standard, interacting with people on social media we barely know, or celebrities, as if we really know them. Definitely food for thought.
Well ain't that the truth! There is really always something else to come along that could knock you straight off your feet. And if it does the key is learning how to keep getting up and plodding on (literally in my case this week - car engine blew up, every penny of the single parent budget accounted for, no room for a new car so lots of unplanned miles of "plodding" it is!)
More food for thought. I read a story recently that implied that Facebook have started actively deleting accounts of people who have died causing huge distress to their families and loved ones. It is effectively wiping out their lives, their memories, their photographs, their videos, and by extension their smile, their laugh and their voice. I have also noticed that more and more in the media when someone dies reporters are turning more and more to social media for their "soundbites" when covering the story. It made me wonder about Princess Diana. I wonder if there would of been so many people queuing to sign books of condolence and pay their respects if the social media outlets we have now had been so widely available back then?
This made me giggle at first, but then it made me pretty sad actually. I often joke with my daughter that her only inheritance will be my notebooks full of quotes - quotes exactly like these - a lifetimes worth hand-written in whatever notebook was to hand with whatever pen was available at the time.
My Goodreads Review:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book really is food for thought. Covering such wide and varied topics as obsession, social media, identity, race, the holocaust, the tsunami, drugs, family, the digital age and deception this is a really surprising read that will keep you guessing at every turn.
A smart, and sometimes brutally honest, look at modern life today, it's many pitfalls and challenges the way we deal with things now we have an abundance of information literally at our fingertips. It really and truly affects every aspect of our interactions with others and that wasn't something I had really stopped to think about before! From the tiny things that using a family group chat to decide what is for dinner that evening to the fact that most of life's important events we now witness through some sort of lens on some sort of screen...this book has really challenged my thinking and I urge you to read it too!
Find Olivia Sudjic online at:
Vogue Interview (random but interesting!)
My copy of Sympathy was published by One on Pushkin Press. Find them online at:
Thank you so much for checking out this review - if you enjoyed it please have a look at my complete list of What I Learned reviews.