The Given World by Marian Palaia

We see how a young girl navigates the given world.

Curious book reviewer says:

3.6/5 🌏

Hi guys! It was the title “The Given World” that got my attention 💫.  I thought the cover was beautifully done too <3<3<3  


Riley, the story’s down-to-earth protagonist, journeys through life… Seemingly in a state of perpetual numbness 🌰 A dreadful incident in her childhood ate away half her heart and being only human, she spends the next half of her life searching for answers. 


You’ll learn so much from Riley’s love-and-let-live attitude and her simplicity of heart. She never demands for life to go her way, but flows lucidly with it… Engaging the people whom she meets with all her heart but never quite letting them into that wounded part of her.


I can’t say I love it because I felt that there’s too much realism and no space for magic as you sit with Riley’s numbness of soul. You hurt for her trying to keep the ghosts of her past in, trying so hard to live life as much as she barely knows how to. Touching, tough and meaningful.


Quote: “My ticket was open ended and my purpose was clear as mud.” -pg. 19

🌎 3.6/5


Book’s official Synopsis:

Spanning over twenty-five years of a radically shifting cultural landscape, The Given World is a major debut novel about war’s effects on those left behind, by an author who is “strong, soulful, and deeply gifted” (Lorrie Moore, New York Times bestselling author of Birds of America).

In 1968, when Riley is thirteen, her brother Mick goes missing in Vietnam. Her family shattered, Riley finds refuge in isolation and drugs until she falls in love with a boy from the reservation, but he, too, is on his way to the war. Riley takes off as well, in search of Mick, or of a way to be in the world without him. She travels from Montana to San Francisco and from there to Vietnam. Among the scarred angels she meets along the way are Primo, a half-blind vet with a secret he can’t keep; Lu, a cab-driving addict with an artist’s eye; Phuong, a Saigon barmaid, Riley’s conscience and confidante; and Grace, a banjo-playing girl on a train, carrying her grandmother’s ashes in a tin box. All are part of a lost generation, coming of age too quickly as they struggle to reassemble lives disordered by pain and loss. At center stage is Riley, a masterpiece of vulnerability and tenacity, wondering if she’ll ever have the courage to return to her parents’ farm, to its ghosts and memories—resident in a place she has surrendered, surely, the right to call home.



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