Son of Escobar by Roberto Sendoya Escobar

“…say this story is true, the calibre of writing in this book isn’t worth enduring.”

1/5 stars.
ebook, 184 pages.
Read from December 26, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

This book was a selection for my book club. Normally, the beauty of book clubs is reading books that you wouldn’t have read and most of the time that’s a good thing, this time, however, it was not.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know the name, Pablo Escobar. You know, the biggest drug lord in history? The guy has a whole Netflix series (Narcos) about him. The premise of this book is that the author claims that he is Escobar’s firstborn son. In 1965, MI6 operatives raid and shoot up a safe house that results in the death of a young mother with one of the operatives deciding to save her newborn baby (the author). The operative put the child in an orphanage only to adopt him later. The operative learns whose child it is and massive amounts of effort are gone into protecting the child as well as using him to coerce a friendly relationship with Pablo himself. The book details all of the events that happened to the author as he grew up in this strange environment. From kidnappings, shootouts, murder, and more, all while not knowing who his real father is and thinking that having armed guards is a normal part of childhood. Strange meetings were made with Pablo Escobar as the author grew but he was never given an explanation of who Pablo was or the relevance of the meetings. As an adult, the author does eventually learn that Pablo Escobar is his father, apparently, and at the end of his adoptive father’s life, he is given a code that is supposed to be the location of Pablo Escobar’s missing fortune after he was taken down and his property destroyed. The code is published within this book hoping someone will figure out its encrypted location.

If this sounds far fetched to you, you’re not alone. The author has been called out for misinformation and lies since this book’s publication. It makes no difference to me if this story is real or not as people can write whatever they please, however, the writing quality in this book was dire and I didn’t find it all that entertaining. Well, I suppose it was interesting to discuss these points in a book club setting but the book was still a disappointing read. I would not recommend this book as I think it’s likely a money grab and a publicity stunt. Outside of that, say this story is true, the calibre of writing in this book isn’t worth enduring.

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

“Sometimes all you can really do is keep moving and hope you end up somewhere that makes sense.”

5/5 stars.
ebook, 384 pages.
Read from December 17, 2020 to December 18, 2020

Allie Brosh took the internet by storm with her blog and book Hyperbole and a Half in the mid-2000s. Her comics perfectly captured life’s random mishaps and the strange things we did in childhood, as well as accurately describing what life is like living with depression. Allie disappeared for almost seven years shortly after her fame. What happened to her? Solutions and Other Problems captures the difficult time that Allie went through in her silence along with hilarious insights and more intriguing and ridiculous things about childhood.

Allie had planned to release another book within a year or two after Hyperbole and a Half but then tragedy happened. Her sister died suddenly. This was then followed by the end of a long term relationship and with Allie having to contend with some serious health issues, all of which she includes and reflects on in this book. A triple whammy of difficulties and pain, so it’s no wonder she became reclusive. It didn’t help that her email and social media was also hacked into at one point. This book takes on these major transitions in her life. It includes comics about her childhood as she remembers her sister and how she managed to get through some of the most difficult years of her life. Her story is relatable, potent, hilarious, and grounding. I should also add that while there are some very sad parts in this book it is still very much a comedy and that Allie’s trademark humour is present throughout.

The best part about this book is that it is deeply insightful and offers an intimate glimpse into Allie’s experiences and the things that have shaped her as an artist while still being immensely engaging and entertaining. It’s a book that shows how Allie has grown as a person and an artist. Allie has also come to see how much of an impact her work has had on others and just how much other people care about her. I also think that this book was healing for Allie and was less about what her fans wanted and more about what she needed. Many fans did not connect with this book as much as her first for this reason but I feel that not only was this book necessary but an authentic effort from Allie that reached an even wider audience. 

This book was absolutely worth the wait and completely captures the growing pains of grief and coming into your own despite life’s intense difficulties at times.

A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough

“We moved from being a part of nature to being apart from nature.”

I’m baaaaaccccck! I passed my program with flying colours and can now relax with my books again.

4/5 stars.
ebook, 274 pages.
Read from December 9, 2020 to December 15, 2020.

Outside of my obsession with cats, if you know anything about me, it’s how much I love nature documentaries. I don’t care for TV or movies but a good nature documentary I am always in for. This brings me to Sir David Attenborough, the narrator KING of nature documentaries. I will watch anything with this man in it. His voice is soothing, entertaining, and captivating. It will be a sad day for this planet when this man passes.

This book is a testament to Attenborough’s life and work, it is his “witness statement” as he refers to it. The book is part autobiographical as it discusses the beginnings of Attenborough’s interest in nature and our world when he was just a child, to how he got involved with the BBC and became the figure that we know today. However, this is to give credence to the message and statement that Attenborough wants to leave you with. Attenborough wants to bring to your attention to the rapid decline of biodiversity and changes in our world that he has personally witnessed throughout his life in exploring our world and all of its inhabitants. Attenborough discusses how we got to this place of decline with solutions that we can take now to prevent and heal the current damage. His tone is intensely urgent but non-judgemental and still very hopeful. At 93 years old he wants you to know what change has happened in his lifetime alone and putting into words a lasting statement of what he dedicated his life to. Attenborough hopes that future generations can take action and reap the benefits of a healthy and sustainable planet and future.

“We have come as far as we have because we are the cleverest creatures to have ever lived on Earth. But if we are to continue to exist, we will require more than intelligence. We will require wisdom.”

This book is meant to alarm you and make you feel uncomfortable but it also talks about people and businesses that are doing their part and how you have the power to as well. Attenborough’s writing is as cohesive and soothing as his voice making for a pleasurable read.

“We often talk of saving the planet, but the truth is that we must do these things to save ourselves. With or without us, the wild will return.”

Is Attenborough doing enough? Many vegans would argue that no, he is not. Attenborough is not a strict vegan or vegetarian though, he has, in recent years, substantially reduced his meat intake. Attenborough may not be vegan or vegetarian but he has a voice that he is using and that people will listen to. As a vegetarian myself, I believe that this a deeply personal choice that you cannot force it upon people and that real change comes with informed choices. With work like Attenborough’s and with him lending his voice to such an essential and necessary cause, it helps people make more scientifically backed, ethical, and informed choices in their own time. One of the reasons that Attenborough is so successful is that he is palatable and reaches people from all walks of life. He also has a firm belief in humanity to make good choices that will improve the life of everything on this planet. This delicate balance in advocacy that creates urgency and not fear, choice and not threats, is why his work is so valued and why he has reached so many.

“Everything is set for us to win this future. We have a plan. We know what to do. There is a path to sustainability. It is a path that could lead to a better future for all life on Earth. We must let our politicians and business leaders know that we understand this, that this vision for the future is not just something we need, it is something, above all, that we want.”

If I could recommend one wholesome and thought-provoking book to help you realise the state of our planet and how it’s not too late to make a difference, it would be this one.

“All we require is the will. The next few decades represent a final opportunity to build a stable home for ourselves and restore the rich, healthy and wonderful world that we inherited from our distant ancestors. Our future on the planet, the only place as far as we know where life of any kind exists, is at stake.”