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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Suffering from a broken heart, Lewis goes to the local club to get roaring drunk with his fellow college friends, when he stumbles across a homeless woman named Rosie. Through her he hears about a church that one day a week offers a free meal for the homeless and elder residents of the area. Feeling worthless and lonely, he decides to volunteer at the church and it opens his eyes to the REAL world around him. Because he comes from an affluent family who can afford to send him to Cambridge, he starts wondering why he was so lucky and how can he help all the homeless people that are so easily ignored.
This is a well-written self-awareness tale. Lewis puts himself in risky and dangerous situations to help the homeless people he has come to know and love. Harry, the painter, that Lewis gives money to so Harry can continue his painting / graffiti around the town. But Lewis wasn’t prepared for what Harry finally painted. LOL. And then there’s Rosie who’s afraid to move into a hostel to get out of the freezing cold, because of past events.
The characters are real as well as the settings. There is some sexual context, but not overly graphic. If you’re not offended by M/M I highly recommend this book and give it 5 feathers.
The novel’s protagonist, Lewis, is a Cambridge student who becomes disillusioned with his current life after meeting Rosie, a homeless 30 something girl who’d rather sleep outside than seek shelter in a hostel. Lewis is particularly vulnerable that night as he’s just being dumped by his boyfriend and is unable to enjoy the evening out at the club with his mates. On his way back home, drunk and depressed, he makes this eye-opening encounter with Rosie that leads him to volunteer at a local soup kitchen that she attends. As he meets more people in need like her, Lewis starts questioning what’s the point of his privileged life and what he can do that matters.
The immediate response seems to be that of helping these people by getting them stuff they need such as sleeping bags and other first need items but despite being a Cambridge student, Lewis isn’t wealthy. One night, while he aimlessly surfs a dating site stalking his ex and maybe looking for a rebound, he receives a message from an older man who offers him money for sex and he has the eureka moment you wouldn’t expect. He decides to try it out, thinking that with that money he can actually help those homeless people out. And so Lewis ventures into the unknown and soon becomes a hustler-like Robin Hood of sorts.
This provocative premise at the core of the story is not controversial for its own sake. It actually raises some interesting questions as Lewis, whose story is told in first person, genuinely goes through the disorientation that many of us, especially those who didn’t pursue studies in more pragmatic fields felt like at some point during university. But more universally speaking he tries to make sense of life and what it all means. Your first reaction might be, well, if you wanted to help people in need would you really have to sell your body in order to raise money for that?
Obviously the answer is not that simple as it looks like and the story is thematically quite complex underneath its apparent simplicity. Lewis’ choices will inevitably have consequences, some of which quite unexpected and the author does a great job at getting us inside his protagonist’s head and make us understand what he’s going through. I would never have sex for money and yet I could identify a lot with Lewis' emotional and psychological journey. I bet lots of you will too. Read this book, you won't regret it!