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The Orphaned Anythings
This is the story of a man in his twenties, who works at a coffee shop, is disconnected from society, and has a severe case of insomnia. Detached from society, Ayden Kosacov is lost, with no family, no friends, and no one to turn to'even if he doesn't realize it.
He wakes up in the morning, too early, but he does not get up. He thinks. His mind wanders to questions like 'why is it that we as human beings feel that we need to make our mark on this universe anyway?' and random memories that he connects with his life ('a guy came up to me and said. 'i've got a gun, i just need 10 cents for the bullet.'). He gets up after noon, and vows next time to get to work earlier. He sets off for work, but when he arrives, instead of going in, he walks right past.
One day, Ayden discovers three bottles of blackstone merlot that his brother left in his cabinet. He drinks, and drinks, and drinks, until he attempts to sort his laundry and realizes that he cannot separate the colors. And still he drinks more.
Staggering into his roommate's room, he spies a silver revolver in the desk drawer, and somehow winds up with the gun resting on his temple. And the worst part is, it feels rather comforting to him.
He is lucky to be alive, and the second half of 'The Orphaned Anything's' focuses on Ayden's recovery, and furthermore, discovery. The inspiration in this book comes from his healing process, where he realizes that life is not about dying rich, with money, legacy, and a big house. Life is not about making a mark on the world or being remembered for some earth-shaking feat. Rather, it is about being surrounded with his loved ones and, at the end of the day, being satisfied with who he is and what he has done.
Through a hospital 'help' ward, a girl named Nico, a passion for photography, and a rekindled relationship with his father that left eight years ago, Ayden learns how to rebuild. Ayden learns that the first step to being is believing. He clearly points out that it is only human to falter and make mistakes, and it is not a failure unless there is no lesson learned.
This book has few flaws. From the very beginning, I was hooked'even before the first page. The quote, 'Life is a short and fevered rehearsal, for a concert we cannot stay to give,' was the first thing I saw when I opened the book, and immediately, I knew it was going to be a good read.
Stephen Christian writes only of what he knows, creating a relateable and youthful story. Many can relate to belonging nowhere, having to choose sides between divorced parents, and participating in the ongoing search for what some call 'true love.' I often found myself laughing out loud, especially in the first half, thinking, 'I've thought that before!' and I thoroughly enjoyed Christian's use of sarcasm ('i'm a nonconformist ... just like everyone else.')
On a deeper note, Christian often references literary works such as Shakespeare's 'all the world's a stage' and quotes like 'your time here on earth is but a small parenthesis in eternity.' Christian shows his sensitive side in the second half of the book, where he offers us, as readers, life lessons that he has learned and experienced firsthand.
The most emotional part of this story is not Ayden's attempted suicide. It is not even his recovery. It is one sole effect of his attempted suicide, a theme that runs deeper than the surface'that he has to get closer to his family before it's too late.
Ayden hated his father since he cheated on his mom with a choir director. Eight years later, Ayden lies in a mental institution, and his father won't stop calling. But Ayden refuses to receive these calls, until the nurse convinces him to give his father a chance, using the analogy that Ayden himself has changed in the three months spent in the ward, so his father could easily have changed in the eight years he spent away. It is only then when the truth of his parents' divorce finally comes out.
What is truly astounding is what it takes for people who love each other to be honest. For Ayden, it took a near-death experience for his father to stop hiding in the shadows and face him.
What may bother some is Christian's failure to use proper grammar and capitalization. This book is filled with symbols, 'i's that aren't capitalized, and incorrect grammar usage. But we all write like that at times, when our brain is working faster than our hands can ever hope to move.
In 'The Orphaned Anything's', Stephen Christian aptly focuses his debut novel around one man's discovery that there truly is 'more to living than being alive.' I would call this book a blend of Mitch Albom's 'Tuesdays With Morrie' and Stephen Chbosky's 'The Perks of Being A Wallflower,' and I certainly hope to see more from this young, bright, coming-of-age author.