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Book Review: Cerita Carissa

Character deaths don’t make me cry. It’s character growths that do. And this sweet Indonesian chick-lit definitely made me cry with how much the protagonist has grown from the first page to the last. Written by Krysan Wijaya, a fellow co-founder of the Mad Tea Book Club, Cerita Carissa (Carissa’s Story) centers around Carissa, an aspiring surgeon who is seeking out her dreams and happiness.

Carissa has to deal with a lot of disappointments however, when things don’t go the way she wanted. AHA, you say. Isn’t that life? Life deals you a hand and doesn’t behave the way you want it to behave. Life throws your expectations back at you, shocks you, breaks your heart and your spirit, sometimes even your body. And you have to deal with what’s left, just like Carissa. She was a great gal-she didn’t do anything wrong. Carissa worked hard and tried to reach to the stars for her dreams, but life mocks her and shoves her with rejections and betrayals.

And page after page, heartbreak after heartbreak, Carissa gets back up and tries again. She sees the loopholes in the society around her, finds her way around it, accepts herself, and moves forward. This kind of plot is quite straightforward and simple, but written with so much heart that I assure readers will be able to feel and relate to Carissa’s journey.

Meet the Author!

Q: How old are you, and what do you do now?

I thought it would be fun to get to know the author a bit…so here are some questions I asked Krisan!

Krisan Wijaya, author of Cerita Carissa

A:  I just turned 30, and am currently working as a general practitioner in Solo, Indonesia.

Q: When did you start writing?

A: I wrote my first short story in 6th grade to join a writing competition held by PLN (Indonesia’s national electricity company) back in 2003. I also wrote a YA romance novel in 2005-2006, but it went unpublished.

Q: What was your inspiration for Cerita Carissa?

A: Of course, all fiction are inspired by the truth 🤭 Cerita Carissa was inspired by a toxic relationship I had years ago, though of course the details were different. I was also observing people who stuck with abusive partners, and who treated the idea of meeting the one and getting married as if it was the only reason to live.

Q: What is your next writing project?

A: I am currently revising 2 novel drafts, but it’s hard to make time for writing in the midst of a full-time job and a toddler 😂 I’m also writing a short stories & poems collection (Lang Leav kind of book) about love and heartbreaks.


Support Krisan’s writing and purchase a copy of the book (in Bahasa Indonesia) by contacting the author. Krisan is also a booktuber, and you can check out her awesome book review videos at her youtube channel.

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Book Review: If I Stay

If I Stay is an Indonesian chick-lit – the first Indonesian book I read this year! I don’t read in Indonesian that well, but I will take up the challenge for special people. Last year I read Perempuan yang Dihapus Namanya (Women Whose Names Were Erased) by Avianti Armand, poet and also Cung’s (my second husband) partner in many architectural projects. This year, when Sherry, fellow co-founder of the Mad Tea Book Club sent me her novel, I decided to give it a go. Spoiler Alerts!

First of all, the structure of the book is so poetic, with titles inspired by musical terms and even excerpts of songs weaved into the narrative. You can tell this book is a project of love from the young author. She has even produced it into an indie film on her youtube channel.

Second, the premise is so relevant to this day and age. Karina is a high school girl who is in a happy relationship with her boyfriend Lintang. She also has an anonymous social media account by the name of snowfairy which has 18M followers on the platform called Art & Pages. These days many people of the younger generation go anonymous on social media to protect their identities. This would never have crossed my mind or anyone from my generation. We went on social media to connect with our friends – not to “disconnect”. How interesting. 

Phantom Stalkers

One day, one of Karina’s anonymous followers starts to stalk and send her threatening notes. Think Phantom of the Opera. He threatens her with one of her private secrets, and with that knowledge manipulates Karina to do things she does not want to do. As someone who has received hate speech on social media, I’ll tell you that this fear is real. It makes me rethink the model of influencers and personal branding.

So how do Karina, Lintang, and her friends (online and offline) deal with this phantom? Don’t worry, it’s an almost happy ending. If there is anything I can change, I’d wish for much heavier punishment for the stalker. For me, this is bordering harassment! I do wish our country has a better justice system, especially when it comes to cyber-harassment or bullying.

All in all, If I Stay was an enjoyable read. Thanks again to Sherry for sending me the book!