Saturday, May 12, 2018

Cecilia by Sandra Rostirolla | A Book Review

Cecilia by Sandra Rostirolla | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

About a few days ago, I was able to watch the movie Goodbye Christopher Robin online. I did not grow up knowing Winnie the Pooh. I knew of this very famous character when I had my nephews. I did not know that Christopher Robin was actually based on an actual person with the same name. Watching the movie and learning about how the characters of Winnie the Pooh came to life was very enlightening. It was also an insight into the life of the real Christopher Robin. How it was for him growing up and how the war has affected his life. In fact, Pooh Bear, came from the effects of war. A. A. Milne, was supposed to write something about the war. Let the people and the government know about it's ill effects, but then things happen and he ended up writing this bedtime story about a bear. Great thing though because when the second world war broke out, many of the soldiers took strength from that children's story and thought of their homes. So, we are very lucky to have Pooh and his friends. Thanks to A. A. Milne and Christopher Robin, or Billy Moon as he preferred to be called.

So, Cecilia also talks about war. It's talks about a previous war and what happened to the citizens after the war. It's a dystopian story with fantasy and prophesies in it. It's has a lot of parallelism to real life. Also, it has a bedtime story or a children's fairy tale in it. It's not about a bear, but it's about The Flower Princess and a Wolf. I really like how this story actually is about a prophesy. And for it to be not lost or forgotten, it was cleverly turned into a harmless fairy tale that could be passed on onward, without the danger of anyone being persecuted because what can a fairy tale do? 

Yes, the title is the name of the most important character in this story--Cecilia. She grew up in a village in the forest with seventy other people. She has two older brothers--Eideard and Rabbie. They were living peacefully and happily in their own community in this little part of the forest when suddenly a group of black horsemen came to their village and killed everyone. They took the young men, including Cecilia's brothers. Cecilia ran and evaded the leader of the murderers but lost everything that she cared about. She's the only one left standing. What to do now? How can she go on?

I love how Cecilia's character developed in the story. She started out as a very protected girl who doesn't know anything of the realities outside of their little corner of the forest. She knew death because her father died but the tragedy that has befallen her entire village was worth the grief and suffering of a hundred people. It's more than her young heart can bear. She lost everything she ever holds dear. Her home, her family, and her friends. How she found her purpose and what she needs to do to fulfill that did not come easy. She had a lot of doubts. What can a teenager do against an army and powerful enemies? But she was not alone. She found help just as what was prophesied.

The host of other characters in this story was very unexpected. It's a totally good combination and very well thought out. A lot of surprises there in terms of how one character was actually connected to another. Characters that will definitely take their own space in your heart, if you will let them. There are a lot of very memorable and adorable characters here that will surely melt your heart. Very unassuming, yet very instrumental in making the whole story work. I admit, the story is mostly about Cecilia but it doesn't just revolve around her. The other supporting characters were given enough to make them also stand on their own. 

The romance angle was very unexpected. I certainly did not foresee that it was going to take that turn. But it was very very good. A guy having a change of heart because of a girl he met, does not get old. In real life, every girl wants to tame a bad boy, right? So, having included that element in the story which wasn't really obvious at first, was very nice. I did see that eventually Amalardh might fall for Cecilia because that's what happens when two people are thrown together in one place, right? When two people share the same experiences, especially difficult ones will definitely turn to each other. So, I expected that but I didn't expect that there was more. That's another good thing there. 

All other elements of the story were done with great care. A lot of unexpected turns and surprises that will surely make your heart stop beating for a moment. I really enjoyed those moments. You will become a believer in Cecilia and root for her to be what she is destined to be. And as I am a great fan of heroines, this story just hit the right spot. Heroines and underdogs. The young, looked down and underestimated. All neatly packaged in this book. I want a sequel for this story. And that ending, OMG! My heart literally stopped for about two seconds there. I definitely could not accept if it had turned sideways. I would definitely file a protest. I would surely be sour for the rest of the month.

So, short of singing Cecilia by The Vamps loudly, I pretty much finished this book in one reading. I couldn't put it down. I'm sure, you wouldn't. You could not just leave Cecilia and her friends. You would want to be with them each step of the way. You wouldn't want to miss the adventure after learning of all the plans, because it's as if you were part of the planning team. You're part of the inner circle of rebels. You can't turn back now. It would be against everything you believe that's right and just in the world.

So, I give this book 5/5 trees of life. And since it's going to be the barangay elections this Monday in the Philippines, this story also talked about leaders. How leaders can incite fear among the people and make them believe anything just because the people are deprived of the basic things. Out of necessity, the majority had to look after their own welfare and have forgotten about how it is to be concerned about their neighbor and the whole city or the world, in general. So, hopefully Filipinos would have learned by now and really elect into office those people who are honest and seek to only serve and look out for the good of the people they represent. I know the barangay is the most basic governing unit and hopefully, the aspiring officials or the elected officials will not just look after their needs. I know the barangay is given millions in budget. I hope this budget does not go into the pockets of those who have access to it. There are a lot of things to be improved and hopefully those would be given priority. 

Thank you Sandra Rostirolla for giving me an opportunity to read this story. It's a fantasy but it's really relevant in this modern world. We may not have prophesies or Flower Princesses or Wolf Knights to defend and save us, but we do have five-headed dragons. This dragon comes in any forms and it can be anything to anyone. This beast is our fears, our worries, our doubts, and our insecurities. Let us not let it devour us but rather fight it to the death with all our strength. We have all our own demons and it can't be defeated unless we do something. It would take a lot, just like Cecilia. She has to bury her whole village for two weeks. But no task is beyond a very strong and dedicated heart. Like Cecilia, we can be that Goddess of Light. Let our goodness, compassion, creativity, and kindness shine forth. We all have it in us.

How does one replace a lost heart?

The truth of man is that he does what he does based only on what he knows, and what he knows is warped by experiences, convoluted by fears, and deformed by perspective.
- Sandra Rostirolla, Cecilia -