Book Review: Monsoon Mansion, by Cinelle Barnes

Monsoon Mansion: A MemoirMonsoon Mansion: A Memoir by Cinelle Barnes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Breathtaking, and sometimes heartbreaking, but never hopeless. So many other reviews capture it perfectly. This is an exquisite example of showing, not telling, of seeing life through the eyes of a child–the reminder that they are much wiser than we give them credit for, and eventually, one day, you’ll remember that your own memories are what you build the future generation on.

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There is more about this book that I wanted to add separately, rather than my usual verbosity.

Mother-daughter relationships are universally revered, but delicately so. Sometimes, they are dysfunctional and challenging–but it’s considered taboo to mention this phenomenon that is more common than many choose to believe. Monsoon Mansion grasps the ambivalence and silent wisdom of a child struggling to maintain a relationship that she knows takes work, of a love that she wants to remain unconditional, where her mother believes it is gifted by virtue of biological connection.

I took over 40 notes and highlights on my Kindle while I read this book, and I know I left a lot out so that I will be inspired to read it again.

For Americans, anyone with fond childhood memories of the 90s may remember it as a time of nostalgia and carefree summer days. In so many ways, even across the world, the same memories were being made in this blended family. The muggy summer, adventures in places that seem so much smaller as an adult, and learning firsthand what addiction is before you understand the word are all things that I recalled myself as we follow the adventures surrounding the Mansion Royale.

The difference is that it is set against the backdrop of a fresh post-war climate when children are weaponized.

This is a beautiful read that will haunt me for awhile. In a good way–if that makes sense. Some of my notes are because of empathy, and others are beautiful examples of what the written word can do. Barnes is a magician with syntax, and I highly recommend this book to anyone who either wants to read, or understand their own relationship with today’s economy or their family.

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