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Half Life by Roopa Farooki

Half Life

by Roopa Farooki

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9020134,128 (3.3)8



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It was an easy read despite three different settings and frequent flashbacks. I read this book at the time I was contemplating about bipolar disorder, love and sexuality. Book pretty much covered all three - though it was far from my state of mind - it made an impression on me as to how people deal with love and sexuality. It was an interesting insight into some of the most passionate/wilful people I identify with. ( )
  poonamsharma | Apr 6, 2013 |
It's a good story... intriguing. But note to self, you've read two of her books and she crafts a good story. The writing is solid but a quick read for the beach or other light settings. ( )
  ming.l | Mar 31, 2013 |
'It's time to stop fighting and go home'.

I listened to the Audible version of this book, read, rather excessively slowly, by Tania Rodrigues. I think in this instance I'd have preferred to have read the book as I seemed to lose the thread from time to time and it's hard to check back with an audio version. This was especially the case as the relationship between Aruna and Jazz was unravelled.

Aruna has been living in London, married to a doctor but still fighting addictions to drugs, alcohol and sex. She had lived for many years in Singapore but left suddenly when her relationship with her childhood friend, Jazz, came crashing to the ground. She suffers from bipolar disorder but is apathetic about the medication. In general, her life is a mess.
The one stable thing is her marriage, until she suddenly walks out on it and buys a ticket on a plane back to Singapore.
This move, prompted by the words from a poem that fall out of a book, 'It's time to stop fighting and go home', takes her back to face even more mess.

Gradually we learn of the background to her first relationship, with Jazz, and why she had felt the need to escape. Jazz's father was once a poet but he is eldely now and is ending his days, lonely, in a Singapore hospital. It seems he holds the answer to the many questions that have confused Aruna for many years and driven her to hide behind her addictions.

Aruna is really not at all likeable and I felt for the two men whom she had abandoned. There was no real satisfactory way to end this story once we had all the facts and I was frustrated with the decision that Aruna makes at the end.

An author that I will read again, though not as an audiobook.
3 1/2 stars. ( )
  DubaiReader | Feb 20, 2012 |
As the cover blurb says, this is the story of a woman "finding herself"--but I have to disagree with the claim that it resembles The Namesake and Slumdog Millionaire. I loved both of those books, and there's no way this one has any connection to them, aside from the fact that the main character is Bengali and learns some family secrets. The main secret is, in fact, pretty far-fetched. (I'd tell you what it is, but I don't want to spoil the reading for anyone interested.) And Aruna, the main character, never really engaged my sympathy: she's moody, impulsive, and downright mean to those who love her. The author tries to explain this away by giving her bipolar disorder, but then Aruna refuses to take her medication, primarily because she LIKES being moody, impulsive, and mean.

The narration shifts among three characters: Aruna; Jazz, the young man who has been her protector since they were 10 and the lover who she abandoned with no explanation; and Hassan, Jazz's estranged father, a poet who is wasting away in a hospital. I tend to like stories that have multiple narrators/POVs, as it gives greater insight into their hearts and minds, and Farooki does it well here. The setting jumps back and forth, from London to the Bengali community of Singapore to Kuala Lampur, and the novel jumps from preset to past just as erratically (which makes some sense as the characters reflect on their lives and try to unravel the big secret).

As a reader with an interest in Indian culture, I was rather disappointed in Half Life, and I can only recommend it to others who enjoy angst-ridden novels of self-discovery. ( )
  Cariola | Nov 7, 2011 |
'It's time to stop fighting and go home', the line Aruna finds in a book that draws her back to Singapore to try and sort out the life she left behind.
Intertwining the story of the life she has made for herself in running away, and the twists of the life she left behind, Aruna and Jazz seek the truth - and to lay the past to rest.
An interesting, at times heart-wrenching, read. ( )
  pamjw | Apr 1, 2011 |
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I measure every grief I meet
With analytic eyes;
I wonder if it weighs like mine
Or has an easy size...

The grieved are many, I am told;
There is the various cause;
Death is but one and comes but once
And onlt nails the eyes.
- Emily Dickinson

Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind...

For if it see the rudest or gentlest sight,
The most sweet favour or deformed'st creature,
The mountain or the sea, the day or night,
The crow or dove, it shapes them to your feature:
  Incapable of more, replete with you,
  My most true mind thus makes mine eye untrue.
  - William Shakespeare, Sonnet CXIII
For my mother, Niluffer Farooki, with gratitude and love
First words
It's time to stop fighting, and go home.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312577907, Hardcover)

On the morning that changes everything, Aruna Ahmed Jones walks out of her ground-floor Victorian apartment in London wearing only jeans and a t-shirt, carrying nothing more substantial than a handbag, and keeps on walking.  Leaving behind the handsome Dr. Patrick Jones, her husband of less than a year, Aruna heads to Heathrow, where she boards a plane bound for Singapore and her old life.  Educated and beautiful, Aruna has a desperate need to risk it all.  But why?  Waiting for her is a messy past and a perfect past lover she had once abandoned without even saying goodbye – a story left unfinished – until now.

Aruna is not running away from home, she is running back to the home she always had, before it became impossible for her to stay.  Before her father, the only family she’d ever known, passed away.  Before she tried, and failed, to create a life and a family with her best friend and lover, Jazz.  Before her doctor delivered a complicated psychological diagnosis she’d rather forget.  After years of fleeing the ghosts that continue to haunt her, Aruna is about to discover that running away is really the easy part; it is coming home—making peace with her past, with Jazz and those they have loved—that is hard.  Spanning the world from London to Singapore to India and back again, Half Life is a richly layered tale of love and conflict, friendship and sacrifice, the luminous story of a young woman who risks everything in order to find where she truly belongs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:21 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Abandoning her privileged life in England and husband of less than a year, Aruna Ahmed returns to her native Singapore, where she remembers the death of her father, her failed relationship with her best friend, and a complicated psychological diagnosis she has tried to ignore.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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