Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: As Happy As Ling by Carlos Aleman

File Size: 350 KB
Copyright: 2010

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

In the depths of the human heart there is a place, like the bottom of the ocean, where one can look above at the sun sparkling on the surface.  The sky seems like a faraway world, stirring the heart and causing it to create a multitude of dramas, both real and imagined.  And within these dramas, there are parables, as well as lies that teach us truth.  One such simple truth is that perfect love transcends worlds and alternate realities.  And one such reality lies with a man named Diego, who aches with love for a woman named Ling.  The reality of their love is hidden in another world, along with all things that need to be properly hidden.

As Happy As Ling begins with a troubled family and two teenagers that are sent to live with their uncle, Diego.  Diego, experiencing a religious crisis, meets a confused theologian named Belarenus.  Belarenus, a brokenhearted man, tries to hold on to his own faith, and symbolically continues a journey that Diego is unable to finish.  The teenagers, in their own way, chase love and the answers to life, discovering tantalizing visions of truth.  Meanwhile, a raft filled with men is perishing at sea, as a man tells a twisted tale inspired by jealousy and betrayal, designed to veil the truth about Ling's happiness.

Mandy's Review:


I've always loved looking at dolphins. They always seem to be in such a happy mood.  Perhaps that is why one was chosen to grace the cover of this book ... not to mention the fictional reference to this very scene within the pages of this book.


There was a lot of sadness in this book.  Every time I thought maybe, just maybe, someone was finally going to end up happy, tragedy struck.  It became sort of depressing after awhile.

Not only was there an abundance of sadness, but it seemed like everyone was questioning religion, spirituality, God, Heaven, Hell, etc.  There were a lot of hypotheses, quotings and different ideas about what people believed, but no real commitment to any one idea or way of being.

The ending made the whole story all worth while.  No, not because it was the ending, but because it gave you some clarity on why the book was written the way it was.  About 3/4 of the way through I was wondering how in the world the author was going to end such a dreary tale.  I can tell you, the ending was perfect and made the book, for me, unforgettable.

Main Characters

Octavio - Father to Cara and Alex - He's a soldier who has served several tours overseas and suffers from PTSD.

Adriana - Mother to Cara and Alex; Wife to Octavio - She's a nurse at the local hospital who makes some unwise decisions that nearly costs her her life.

Cara - Alex's older sister - She's Latina but knows very little Spanish.  She's in love with the neighbor boy who is already in a committed relationship.  She doesn't think highly of herself and almost messes up her future.

Alex - Overweight and nerdy, this young man seems doomed to a life of solitude, but one person changes that for Alex.  Can he maintain his improved lifestyle? Or does he end up alone despite the best of intentions?

Diego - Adriana's brother; Uncle to Cara and Alex - He's a hot shot corporate executive who is unhappy with his life.  So, he gives it all up, moves from the West Coast to Miami and begins teaching his passion ... art.

Ling - A teacher at the school Diego works at - Ling is clinically depressed.  She craves the happiness of a stable, fulfilling relationship, but doesn't trust herself to actually become involved with anyone.  Why the title As Happy As Ling then?  All I can tell you by way of an answer is that is in in no way sarcasm or a play on words.  Ling is truly happy.  You just have to read the book to find out how.


Although the majority of this book was sad and depressing, I would definitely recommend this book... though I'm not sure to whom.  It is a book that will cause you to contemplate the story line and the author that wrote it.


I think that is an apt description.  So, if you like unique books, then I would suggest this title as one to consider.

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