The Wolf of Wall Street – Jordan Belfort

Seen the 2013 Scorsese film? Why not try the book it originated from?

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I have previously seen the Martin Scorsese film of the same name, starring Leonardo Dicaprio, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So, when I came across Jordan Belfort’s book The Wolf of Wall Street, I knew I just had to purchase it. For the simple fact is, the films are never an accurate representation of a book, and this being a ‘memoir’, I felt there must be so much more to the story than what Scorsese could portray. I was one hundred percent right with my assumption that the book format of The Wolf of Wall Street would provide more information, and a more rounded picture. I did not think it was possible but Belfort’s book was far more shocking and disturbing than the story that Scorsese portrayed.

Though for a heads up if you have not seen the film, the books title will have you believe the book will predominantly be about the stock market. However, this is not the case. Belfort’s memoir is more focused on his drug and alcohol consumption, so much so that it leaves you questioning how he is still alive. – A question I believe he must ask himself. It is interesting that Belfort’s novel refrained from focusing on the struggles through the stock market, to reach his millions, like so many millionaires memoirs are. Instead, The Wolf of Wall Street gave us insights into the troubles and bad choices that can often be made once you have reached your millionaire status. The book perfectly demonstrates the excessive behaviour, the ungratefulness, and the constant need for more that comes with being a member of the super-rich.

I enjoyed The Wolf of Wolf Street, if only for the shock factor. The fact that it is a true story makes Belfort’s tale even more intriguing. Having said that though, the writing is very basic, it will not offer you a challenge and it will not take you on a journey of self-discovery. So, if you enjoy books that do just that, then maybe pass on reading Belfort’s book. Having said that though, this book did not take me long to read, and I found myself finishing it in days. This was even more of a surprise for me as I tend to struggle to read books that I have already half experienced through their film adaptations. So, if you are looking for something a bit different, something a bit shocking, or simply a true story, I would recommend you reading this book.

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Teacher’s Pet – Hayley McGregor

Are books based on true stories your thing? Well, here i review the book that tells Hayley’s harrowing story

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Teacher’s Pet is the very true story of Hayley Mcgregor. Hayley was groomed and abused by her teacher in school, from the age of 12. It took Hayley twenty years though to realise what she went through was wrong. This is Hayley’s side of the story, as to what she experienced all those years ago, how she came to report those experiences to the police and what happened during the legal process.

It’s difficult to judge a book like Teacher’s Pet, this is for two reasons: 1. it is not a story from the imagination, you cannot really judge how the story progressed and how it ends, because it is a real life story, one that cannot and should not be manipulated for effect. 2. The writing and style just simply does not matter, yes if it is illegible it will be a struggle, but this book is not about how well it is written. It is simply a book trying to tell somebody’s side of the story and to spread a message.

That being said though, I found McGregor’s book to be a very good read. I’m not sure whether it was ghost written or not, though I’m not entirely sure that even matters. What I really liked though was the first few pages of the book, where McGregor gives a brief outline of what her story is about, and explains why she is telling her story. In this section of Teacher’s Pet the punishment of her abuser is divulged. Some might see this as a mistake, as the reader’s incentive to read on and see what became of the abuser is diminished. However, I found this to be the opposite, I was even more inclined to read on to discover Hayley’s own story. And, despite having the ending handed to me in the opening pages, I found that I read on and on finishing the book in a day.

You can’t help but have total admiration for Hayley after you have read this book. To have gone what she has gone through, from the abuse, to rocky relationships, to severe depression, and then to the realisation of what had really been happening to her. It really is remarkable how she is still fighting. Hayley did not need to write this book, she did not need to have her name publically known, but the fact she did is so important. Teacher’s Pet is allowing Hayley to spread her message and to reach those that may not realise what they too have been through or what they are currently going through. Teacher / Child relationships – I’m sure it is a topic we are all familiar with in one way of another. But, it is not a topic that I often see being severely frowned upon, and this book itself is testament on why both adults and children need to educate themselves on handling these types of situations.

So, if you are thinking about reading a true story next, or simply interested in how teacher/student relationships occur, as I was, I would highly recommend Teacher’s Pet. Although Hayley discusses sexual encounters in this book, I would not say it is too explicit. Therefore, I would encourage young adults and teenagers to read it, if only to open your eyes to the consequences and the trauma that can occur in these situations.

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Lion: A Long Way Home – Saroo Brierley

stepping way from the fiction, here i review Saroo Brierley’s true story

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Lion: A Long Way Home is the true story of Saroo Brierley. The memoir tells the story of how a five-year-old Saroo boarded a train and got lost in India, and what has happened to him in the twenty-five years since this train journey. The first half of the book focuses on the struggles Saroo faced as a young boy lost in India. We learn of his experiences sleeping on the streets, how he was saved (twice) by a homeless man and how he was taken in by an orphanage. The second half of the book explores his adoption to Australia, his accomplishments and most importantly how he goes on to find his way back home to India.

This was a remarkable story, it seems incredible that a young boy lost so far from home would go on to make the journey that Saroo did. Even more so when you learn that Saroo finding his home town in India all these years later was a mere accident. However, the book itself was a little disappointing. The first half of Brierley’s story was great; it was full of interesting anecdotes and information. However, the second half I found began to feel a little repetitive. Brierley describes how he would spend hours upon hours searching on Google Earth for his village in India. Although understandably this was a repetitive act, I just felt that the book did not need this section to be quite so stretched out. It simply felt that Brierley was attempting to fill space so a book could be marketed.

Lion: A Long Way Home is also, for the majority, a story relying on very old memories. Often because of this, I would find myself questioning how reliable this story is. I understand people are different; sometimes traumatic experiences live with us very clearly, and sometimes our subconscious blocks out this trauma. So, I will not go into too much depth. But, there were a few moments in the first half of the book, when Saroo would have been very young, where I found myself questioning Saroo’s recollections – as it did not seem believable that these memories would still be so clear.

Saroo Brierley’s book was a pleasant read, the writing and grammar was decent so there were no problems with struggling to read it. However, there just seemed to lack a little something extra. I also felt as though the book could have been condensed much further and still have produced the same affect. So, although Brierley’s story was remarkable, I’m not so sure this was the best platform to tell this story. If you have not heard about it already, this book was adapted into a film, starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. I’m no film critique, however I found the film to be far better, and I enjoyed it far more than the book.

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His Bloody Project – Graeme Macrae Burnet

Looking for something a bit different from your usual read? Here I review Burnet’s unique novel

his_bloody_project_graeme_macrae_burnetHis Bloody Project is the 2016 novel by Graeme Macrae Burnet. I picked it up on a whim whilst I was browsing the tables in Waterstones at the beginning of the year. I had come to read it a couple of times but for a reason I cannot pinpoint I just never got further than the first few pages. However, a couple of weeks ago I found myself in my ‘reading zone’, so I thought I would try again. This time, I had my full attention on the text in front of me, and I found that I just could not put the book down. I am usually quite a slow reader, so I was surprised to find I had finished the book in two days.

The story itself is set in 1869 and tells of the brutal murders of three people in Scotland. There is no mistaking who committed these murders, however, what we do not know is how the boy responsible found himself in the positon to commit the crime. And, at a time when hanging was still a punishment, we are taken on a journey to establish what will be the consequences of his actions.

I feel Burnet created something truly unique with his creation of His Bloody Project. I have searched online repeatedly trying to establish whether this was a true story, or whether it is simply imagination. I found myself doing this because the novel is so well structured. We are given witness accounts, a memoir written whilst the alleged murderer is in jail, doctors reports and a day by day retelling of the trial. Therefore, the novel is easily mistaken for being simply a collection of found documents. So, although as far as I am aware it is completely fiction, we get a sense of an author who has done thorough research into his subject. As a reader this gives us a real sense of rural life in Scotland in the mid-19thcentury, as well as insight into the approach taken in the criminal justice system at the time.

If you have read one of my previous blog posts, So much history…, you will be aware I am currently taking part in a research project, Writing Lives, which looks into working-class autobiographies. Throughout my participation in this project I have been focusing on a memoir written by a man in rural England. So, when it came to reading His Bloody Project I was completely in my zone. The ‘memoir’ that Burnet includes was my favourite section of the novel. This is because we got a sense of what the alleged murderer was thinking leading up to the crime and whilst he was in prison. Through my participation is Writing Lives I have acquired the skills to look at a piece of autobiographical writing and read between the lines, thus, the memoir that Burnet created was a joy to read…even if it is fiction.

Although His Bloody Project does not follow the traditional ideals of novels that I am used to, and that I love, I would recommend the book for others to read. It provides brilliant insight into a world away from the one many of us are used to. Each, and every, section of the novel entices you to want to continue in your journey. Therefore, do not be surprised if you, like me, rush through this novel in a couple of days. It an interesting and rememberable journey and destination that the Burnet takes you to. And, if you do enjoy this book, make sure you do check out the Writing Lives project, for some fascinating and very true memoirs penned by the British working-class.

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