4 Jul 2013

#7 Leah

       Book ReviEW


Rating4 stars (self)

Contents-229 pages, 24 chapters
As the name of the novel suggests, the story revolves around a 14-year old shy girl named LEAH NELLS who is very much addictive to books unlike the folks of her age who find their interest, on a contrary, socializing themselves.

     v  REBECCA NELLS-Leah’s mother
      v  ROBERT NELLS-Leah’s father
      v  GRANDMOTHER(maternal)


      MR. SIMMONS-history teacher
      English teacher

The author unfolds the story by presenting before the readers that time of gap after which Leah will join the High School. In the mean time she enjoys doing the work which pleases her most-reading books. So her mother takes her to the garage sale where she can purchase books for Leah. Going to the garage sale and opting a second-hand book is not something unusual for her to do, in fact it is a part of her frequent activities that she does apart from going to school and reading books. Garage sale is like a haunt for both mother and daughter. Apart from garage sale, there are other second hand book stores where Leah’s mother would drive her to. In fact, Mrs. Nell would drive her to any part of the city but this reluctant teenaged has shrunk her world to only limited places like these.

            Leah, by nature, is an extremely shy girl who loathes the idea of socializing. She does not find it interesting to get involved in the world outside her room. She is a very quiet and calm girl who even occasionally speaks. When asked she would answer by giving the gestures of her body by nodding her head or utter few very very short words to indicate her approval or denial like yes or no. She entirely lives in her own world of books with no people in which she feels very comfortable. Her shyness prevents her from conversing with people around her. Her life is dull, monotonous because of devoid of adventure. She would sometimes feel as if she is suffering from a typical disease which has paralyzing effect over her mouth, thus making her a mute. She always wishes to speak freely like other girls of her age and lead a normal life. (Even though her life is just normal yet she feels it is not)       
Leah’s shyness and reluctance to get mixed up with the world are certainly the matters of concern for her parents who are very worried about her nature (like most of the parents caring for their children). Her mother would always try searching out ways by which she can help Leah to come out of her own self. When Mrs.Nells was of Leah’s age, she was very charming and talkative. She had no problem in talking with the girls around her. She does not mind buying books for Leah from garage shop every weekend, which she thinks, provide company to Leah and help her come out of her loneliness. Her deepest desire is to see Leah as independent and confident to converse with people around her.
Leah becomes very anxious to go to High school. Although she is very excited yet very nervous. She tries to imagine her first day at High school. Will she be able to make friends or stay alone like she always stayed. In her imagination, there is anticipation of some wrongs like getting late to school, unable to find the correct classroom and blah blah.
 Her days at the High school do not affect her loneliness until she meets a charming and handsome boy David. David Parks is the main centre of attraction for Leah, who at the first meeting snatches away Leah’s book from the clutch of some notorious boys. But in later days, her silence accompanies her. She wants to talk with David but her shyness chokes her throat and prevents words from coming out of her mouth. She wishes to be a good friend of David.
 Fortunately, for history presentation Mr.Simmon instructs the class to get separated into several groups consisting of 4to5 students. Then David, on seeing Leah alone, invites her to join his group which has already consisted of 4 members- Heather, Melanie, Alex and David himself. Leah silently gives her approval. Leah finds that David and Heather are close friends. She becomes jealous of their intimacy and wishes to be in the place of Heather but she knows that it can never happen in reality because of the fact that they like each other. She, being a part of David’s group, has to contribute to the topic of ancient GREECE and every group has been allotted 3 weeks to prepare with the time limit of 15 minutes to give their presentation to the whole class. David decides that every week they must devote 1 hour for the preparation. For this they must stay one 1hr in the school library after the school to collect all relevant matters on the topic. This week it is the turn of Leah and Alex to take down the notes from the books issued from library. Leah wishes David to be there in the place of Alex with her so that she can know him much better. When the day comes, Leah goes with Alex to the school library and writes down important things in her notebook. She sees this as a chance for her to impress David.
Everyone starts giving their contribution to the history presentation by collecting information and preparing the report. In the last week, David invites the team members to his home to discuss about their presentation and work on it. They all decide to record their report on the camcorder but the camcorder goes out of function.   So everybody rehearses their report within 3 minutes which Heather supervises. Alex is asked by David to prepare the charts on the topic. Among all these, a fight occurred between David and Heather which eventually gets over soon. Leah wishes that their fight to linger so that she gets a chance to be with David.
Leah’s maternal grandmother visits home. That day Leah has already taken her mother’s permission to stay at home not because her grandmother would come but because of some other reason. The reason is that she cannot bear seeing David and Heather’s intimacy. One day ago, there was a dance programme organized in her school for freshers and all her classmates were present there let alone David and Heather. She gets worries by thinking that dancing with each other might have strengthened the bond between them.

            Grandma is dropped at home by Leah’s mother. Leah goes downstairs to welcome and greet her. She is happy that she has been given a leave of 5 days from the school for the occasion of Thanks Giving.(It is a tradition in USA that people visit their relatives on this day and spend time with them). They all take their dinner together. The pumpkin pie prepared by the Grandma proves to be the tastiest dessert which completes their dinner.

The next day, Mrs.Nell invites Leah to join her and her grandma in shopping. She also promises her to buy her some more books because she knows that Leah is running short of new books. Leah, as usual, with reluctance gets ready to go with them.
Shopping complex is the place which Leah always avoids because it is the most crowded place and she does not want to get encountered with a lot of strangers. There she discovers a compartment completely reserved for books which surprises her because she has never witnessed a mammoth collection of books of all kinds and languages. She picks up a book and checks its price which she finds out to be of $30. The price is about 30 times more than the one that she purchases from the garage sale. She puts that back in the shelf and searches for another with low cost. Finally she is able to get the one satisfying the conditions: low cost and interesting. Her mother asks her to go to the counter and hands over the money to the cashier. Mrs. Nell, this time, will not help her daughter in getting the book. Leah, all alone, heads straight to the counter, gets frightened on seeing the length of the queue and returns back. Leah’s inability to get the book annoys Mrs. Nell which in turn embarrasses Leah. Grandma pays the money and gets the book for Leah.
Grandma’s understanding nature drags Leah even more close to her. She, through her words of wisdom, advises Leah not to feel pressurized because of the expectations of the parents. She encourages her to look into herself and to search for that gift that God has uniquely presented her. She makes her believe that she suffers from no abilities and in fact she possesses certain qualities which no one else in this world possesses.

            Grandma’s departure makes Leah sad, at the same time Grandma promises to visit her very soon. School reopens after the vacation and the day has come when David’s group has to present their history report. Leah, with nervous and frail voice, reads out the report and so do other members of the group. Their style of presentation impresses the history teacher which helps them in earning the highest grade.

            According to Leah, the end of the history project will mark end of her efforts to get close to David. She will henceforth never get any chance to speak to David. This happens in reality also in subsequent days. After few days she meets David near locker who congratulates Leah for speaking so well in the presentation. David understands that how difficult it is for a shy girl like Leah to read aloud the report to the class. This elates Leah but at the same time feeling sad for thinking this to be her last conversation with Leah.
She, during the lunch break, occupies the loneliest corner of the cafeteria as usual. Today, she is not in the mood to take out the book from her book and start reading. She is unable to concentrate on the multitude of thoughts flowing in her mind. She stares at the graffiti of the table silently and finds a phrase-I love. She wonders that who might have written this and also she ponders that about whom she can write this. Amidst all such thoughts, the words of Grandma get revived as if those words have formed a deep root in her conscience. The powerful words of Grandma make her cheerful and happy instantly and she starts to feel good about everything around her. She quickly takes out a red pen from her bag and converts the phrase into a word by adding the word ‘myself’. Thus the sentence reads out to be I love myself. She laughs, smiles ad giggles. Her happiness and expressions get mixed up with the laughter of the students present there.

The language is simple yet interesting. What makes reading it an enjoyable experience, is the interesting way in which the sentences have been framed. The text is very very descriptive which one of the important features of novel writing is. The readers may anticipate the story to end with the acceptance of Leah by David as his friend. The story takes another turn at the end. It helps Leah to get win over her gloomy thoughts with the help of Grandma’s thoughts. The story also very well depicts the concern of Leah’s parents towards her. Leah’s parents do not want to leave her alone but they also want to see her daughter as a winner in her battle against her shyness and loneliness. The writer has taken every care to project a teenage girl’s thoughts and behaviour by mentioning every slight action that she performs. Thus Leah’s approach towards self adoration is very encouraging. The entire story plants the idea in the minds of reader that self adoration and realization are elementary steps for a healthy and happy life. I appreciate the idea of the author to introduce a character like Leah who is addicted to books!!

Thumbs down for:
       The entire novel revolves around Leah, the central character who acts as a mute who seldom speaks. Words have to be prized out from her mouth. There could have been introduction of other adventure in Leah’s life, for making the script more interesting. Some of her actions have been described with a lot of intensity which makes the script a bit boring for readers who directly want to jump to the end of the story.
       Overall, it is a must read novel. It gives the message that one must love himself the way he is. After all, it is the only way to get loved.

Swati Sarangi



  1. "You are the only you, God made... God made you and broke the mold."
    god made everybody unique and did it brilliantly. It is our duty bring out the uniqueness in ourselves conquering our fear as the girl did. Those people will never be known who followed the world, those who made the world follow them shall always be known.
    Thank you for bringing out such an interesting review. A really interesting book indeed. Some readers ( at least readers like me) won't find the plot boring altogether. Because of a sense of congruity of personality with the central character they can instantly connect to the script

    p.s: don't mind any spelling and grammatical mistakes I made in my comments. A review written in a manner more concise would be better. :)
    always a delight to read such posts! Keep writing!

  2. Your words much appreciated!!
    In the words of Abraham Lincoln, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
    Thanks for reading this post!! :)