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The Little Voice Paperback – November 23, 2016
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"The Little Voice is radical, to say the least. But Sheldon's style is warm, almost whimsical at times, and this means that even the most politically uninitiated reader will understand what he's trying to say... If the book was marked by the education system Sheldon is rebelling against, it would be an 'A*. Top notch'."
--- The Canary ---
"It inspires hope and fear,optimism and depression. Then it analyses those emotions. It explains the pressures we all experience from time to time... It's probably the most thought-provoking novel of 2016."
--- The Huffington Post---
"The Little Voice takes the world we live in, the world we take for granted, and makes us think about it in a whole new way... It makes the reader ask themselves all the questions they've been bottling up and avoiding. And that, in itself, is a pretty remarkable feat."
--- Buzzfeed ---
"At times, it will make you feel uncomfortable. It's certainly not "pop-lit". But it is magnificent. It is a compelling rhapsody of rhyme and reason."
--- Global Education Network ---
"Sheldon has a talent for observing aspects of society and mirroring them back to readers in a thought-provoking way."
--- Literary Flits ---
"I spent about four hours this evening reading (and re-reading) passages in this book because they really spoke to me. I can tell you right now, I'm going to read it again tomorrow because I need to hear them again, and I think you do too."
--- In Our Spare Time---
From the Back Cover
My character has been shaped by two opposing forces; the pressure to conform to social norms, and the pressure to be true to myself. To be honest with you, these forces have really torn me apart. They've pulled me one way and then the other. At times, they've left me questioning my whole entire existence.
But please don't think that I'm angry or morose. I'm not. Because through adversity comes knowledge. I've suffered, it's true. But I've learnt from my pain. I've become a better person.
Now, for the first time, I'm ready to tell my story. Perhaps it will inspire you. Perhaps it will encourage you to think in a whole new way. Perhaps it won't. There's only one way to find out...
Enjoy the book,
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Familiarity breeds contempt. Rather than having the Torah or the Bible as the moral compass to find meaning and happiness in his coddled, selfish, ungrateful and protected life, caucasian Yew resorted to far eastern philosophy by Lao Tzu to rationalise his need to be a non-conformist, rebellious and individualistic life. Why Nurse gave Yew Lao Tzu instead of the Torah was not explained though. Did she think Lao Tzu was superior to the five books of wisdom, book of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and songs of Solomon?
The author glossed over important aspects of Yew's adolescent life such as his religious preparation for his comping of age ceremony. His thoughts, his objections. That would have made much more interesting reading than his experience in a strip club.
The author could have elaborated on issues A, B and C and D to give life to the segment on Yew chatting up the old ladies of charities.
In advocating rebellion and objecting indoctrination, Yew did not make distinction on good and bad kind of rebellion and good and bad kind of indoctrination. I didn't get the impression that Yew was a victim of tyranny, oppression, penury conditions, torture and evil. So why the rebellous "bad boy" attitude? Certainly Yew must realise at some point of his selfish life that it was indoctrination that clothed, fed and raised and educated him to put him where he was in life. Being so caught up with Lao Tzu's philosophy, I am curious how faithful Yew was in following the rule of being generous to others. Generosity and altruistic outlook of life is definitely a concrete way to lose the self absorbed and self serving lifestyle of Yew. Eastern philosophy, Lao Tzu included, advocate to the highest level, filial piety to parents and elders and obedience to authority. Obviously Yew had skipped those parts.
Subservience itself is never a bad thing, even if the master or whoever one is serving is not a good man. If Yew had turned to the right source for advice instead of Lao Tzu, Yew could have learnt that service unto others is a great virtue and benefit to society if he has any charitable bone in his body.
Yew called himself a all or nothing boy. In living off the land so as to be one with nature, Yew obviously fell far short of Christopher McCandless (Into the wild by Jon Krakauer).
This appears to be a semi-autobiographical description of a fairly normal boy from early childhood to early adulthood. The only unusual thing about the boy (whose name is unsubtly 'Yew') is that he has trouble accepting social norms for behavior. He personifies this trouble as a not-demon equally unsubtly named 'Egot'.
The book attempts to discuss the balance between individuality and societal acceptance. It's been done before by much better thinkers. I will say, however, that the author's glorious disregard for the established usages of words makes the book sparkle at times. But the book spends a lot of time over the character's realization that he only follows the rules because he's afraid of the consequences of breaking them. What's epiphanous about that? I don't steal my neighbor's stuff for the same reason I don't jump off cliffs - I'm afraid of the consequences.
The resolution of the novel is also unsatisfying. If God wanted us to live life unfettered he wouldn't have made us so fecund that we are forced to live within screaming distance of a hundred people who object to our screams. Please substitute the deity/power of your choice.
Or perhaps it's possible for your soul to live in a forest clearing while your body lives on the 17th floor of a high-rise. I don't think so.
I was hoping to find a book that made me think, stop and reconsider my long-cherished beliefs, maybe change a few. But I kept thinking "Well, duh!"
The book has thirty short chapters and an epilogue. Yew Shodkin, the major character and the storyteller, shares the major episodes of his life, from being a child to becoming a mature adult. The author's style is clear, straight and understandable, which in my view, makes it available to a vast audience of readers. Additionally, the experiences that Yew goes through are particular to the character himself. Meanwhile, they are painfully down to earth, which is what actually makes the book great and fascinating. Not many writers have the ability to make readers associate themselves with the fictional character. The algorithm of experiences might be different for each individual, but the aim of it all is the pursuit of happiness. This is what is all about. The everlasting clash between conformity and rebellion, individual and society, hedonism and self-restraint, widespread acceptance and self-rejection, material contempt and spiritual transcendence. The character's inner-self transitions from an 'egot' to a 'battle cry', turning into a 'little voice' that eventually disappears and gives way to a free self. The author communicates his wisdom and insights through numerous quotes of Lao Tzu plus psychological concepts and experiments.
All in all, that is a brilliant read for anybody who feels underrated, stuck, alienated, apathetic or just want to feel a sense of belonging.