Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-12-31 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 328 user ratings

" Got this for free on my Kindle Prime. I’m a Filipino immigrant and I like that this book had a lot of Tagalog inserted in it. If you don’t know too much about Filipino culture I guess this is a good memoir to get a feel for how the class system works. But let’s not romanticize poverty or abuse. " said.

"Updating this from my second read: I thought my heart was ready for a re-read of this amazing story, but the audio version, read by Cinelle, had me more full of feels than the ebook. ❤️

Magical and mortifying

Barnes does more than just tell her story in this memoir, she exposes her soul. Through the ups and downs of life in the mansion, this book is beautifully painful to read. The resilience, strength, and love built of hardship are so exquisitely portrayed. I'll definitely keep an eye out for future work!
" said.

" Lyrical. Beautiful. Brutal. Cinelle Barnes’ memoir is reminiscent of Isabelle Allende’s early works, transporting readers to the Philippines of her childhood and the decaying glamour of the mansion in which she lost her childhood and found her identity as a writer. I read this book in a single sitting. What a story! " said.

" Wow!What Insight into another world of pain and survival. Great writing about struggles and winning despite being surrounded by evil and decay. Exhausting, intriguing and highly recommended. " said.

" I listened to the Audible version of this book, and I think it probably helped add the fifth star. Hearing her own voice added something imperative. " said.

" OutstandingBarnes is in equal turns poetic, graphic, fantasical and gritty. She has bloomed from an exotic and chaotic childhood and adolescence into a gifted author. Her story so mesmerized me I read it in one day. " said.

"An achingly beautiful memoir. Tracking Barnes’ story: a girl three years my junior growing up just kilometers away from my own home was fascinating and meaningful. I learned a little bit, but mostly I enjoyed getting lost in her lyrical prose and surreal imagery that so well captures elements of Manila life for many.

“The water at the well smelled rich, not of chlorine, but minerals, the scent of a waterfall cutting through the stench of the ghetto’s imburnal—sewage canal. Water from the spout hit the bottom of buckets and jugs with a slosh that warped us out of Metro Manila and into the beaches of Siargao, Boracay, and Palawan, the hem of the Pacific I’d never seen.”
" said.

"An inspirational memoir, made of light

I enjoy memoirs, exploring the world from the comfort of my couch, snuggled in under a warm blanket with a cup of hot tea. The cover art and brief synopsis intrigued me for this book, which was a compelling read.

As the story starts, the narrator is young, in the Philippines, a privileged girl in a mansion with servants. Her mother enjoys fine things, name brand clothing, while her father works hard to provide for them and her brother. The text is rich, lush, describing her world well enough that it's jarring to look up and realize you're not actually with her.

That compelling narrative continues as the family's fortunes turn gradually, as the cracks in the mortar of a perfect life are exposed. Her mother goes from singing out words to teach a love of language to running away, fine items around them sold off to survive, and the mansion falling into disrepair. Yet the author still searches for whatever she can cling to for happiness, loving her pets as her father and brother leave, thriving on books as her mother turns to an abusive new lover.

Without going into any spoilers further than the above, the perseverance and strength shown are both inspiring and sad. Reading this is a mix of sorrow for what this young girl experiences, and cheering her on to thrive. I'm glad for the epilogue of her current life, showing how she has retained the good from her youth while shredding the bad.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Promise me, you’ll always remember, none of this is normal. But we were not made for normal, and for that, I am sorry, my warrior girl,” Papa said. “Be brave, be smart, be kind, and have faith. Remember that you are made of light.”
" said.

January 2019 New Book:

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