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Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite
Naina will soon turn thirty. She is a receptionist for a real estate company. It is a simple job that Naina doesn't really like, but it allows her to lead a more or less comfortable life in her beloved Charleston, South Carolina. Naina is a quiet person. She cherishes her everyday routine and tries to avoid stress and unpredictability. Naina's mother took her own life when Naina was only seven. Her father sent her to boarding school because Naina couldn't find common ground with her stepmother. Now, they speak only once a year, on Naina's birthday. Naina craves a loving family and supporting friends, but the fear of being abandoned again is strong. One day, she receives a mysterious box. Naina feels changes in the air and meets new people. A stranger urges Naina to explore her true potential. Will a trip to faraway countries help Naina find herself? Can You Be by Sonee Singh is a thought-provoking read for fans of fiction centered around women, drama, inspiration, and psychology.
Can You Be is a very special book. Sonee Singh allows us to look deeply into every corner of Naina's soul. Naina built thick walls around herself, but her world is very fragile. Sonee draws a convincing picture of solitude fed by fear of rejection and further isolation. Naina is an interesting character, and we see the unfolding events from her perspective. I like that Naina is almost brutally honest with herself. She doesn't seek excuses for herself; she seeks necessary solutions and dares to leave the comfort zone of Charleston, where she knows every hidden alley for unknown European countries. Sonee shares many fascinating facts about the history of Charleston and the Baltic states, including the Užupis Constitution that inspires Naina. Sonee tells us that every trip is a trip into ourselves and motivates us to be kinder to those who seem to be a bit odd or out of place. The author also touches on the themes of belonging, acceptance, and forgiveness. Sonee skillfully interweaves mundanity with mystical events and encourages us to continue our efforts to find our true place in this world.