Review: “The First Noble Truth” by C. Lynn Murphy

“The First Noble Truth” by C. Lynn Murphy

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 25 July 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: “Just as the wind, blowing back and forth
Controls the movement of a piece of cotton,
So shall I be controlled by joy,
And in this way accomplish everything.”
-Shantideva

Machiko Yamamoto pulls out her hair, picks at her skin, and triple checks the locks to the house behind the school where she works. When a foreigner moves into a neighboring thatched roof cottage, she quickly falls in love with the quiet woman with the mangled hand.

Krista Black does not mind the weekly visits from the local English teacher. The scarred woman seems harmless, but she always wants to talk about travel and language and why Krista has come to the remote, Japanese village. Krista avoids her questions. She has seen much of the world, and she knows what it does to fragile people. Machiko may want to know her, but she could never understand her.

Set in Kyoto, New England, Africa and Kathmandu, THE FIRST NOBLE TRUTH is a story of redemption, interwoven between two protagonists, across two cultures. It peers beneath the comfort of expected storytelling to investigate the dualities of suffering and joy, religion and sex, and cruelty and kindness.

Review: I was about a quarter of the way through this book when I realized that I had no idea what was going on, or where the book was going; yet only a moment later, I knew that I didn’t care that I didn’t know. Some books feel kind of pointless and I’m disappointed. Some books feel without point, but that’s only because they meander through their prose.

This book was the latter, but it worked. It was addictively lyrical, and I just could not stop reading, even when I felt clueless.

Much of this book had an undercurrent of sorrow and it brought in many “harsh realities,” I’ll call them, but very subtly done. Through out, though, the sadness was mixed with enough streams of light that it didn’t drag you down. It just pulled you into the characters more, as you wondered about them and with them. Enough to bring hope along with it. And our two main characters were an interesting counter-balance to each other in terms of the sorrow and hope.

I’ll also note that Michiko’s troubles are of an interesting sort, in that it’s not something you expect to be chosen for a character. I know enough about the disorder from a non-fiction perspective, but it surprised me in fiction. Yet it worked, and added an intriguing layer.

This book entirely gripped me, but quietly. Like hands snatching my lapels but then smoothing down the wrinkles made. 5 Fireballs.

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