Open Heart (Farsighted Series)

By Emlyn Chand
Binding:Kindle Edition
Publisher:Blue Crown Press, (5/17/2012)
Language:English



Average Rating:
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Simmi Shergill's life is a mess. Her powers of psychic feeling are on the fritz, and Grandon Township's sudden population boom has brought quite a few unsavory characters to town. She also looks like an over-blown balloon in her size 14 pants, but not even starving herself seems to be working as a diet plan. Well, at least her boyfriend, Alex, loves her so much he'd do anything for her. Last summer he even risked his life to protect her from the mysterious boy everyone was convinced wanted to kill her.

The problem is, she's not so sure she feels the same way. Is Alex really the man of her dreams? And why can't she stop fixating on her would-be killer, Dax? Whenever he's around, part of her wants to run screaming in the other direction while the other part longs to run into his embrace, no matter who she'd hurt or what she'd risk.

Simmi's loyalty is on the line. Who will she choose--the blind seer who loves her, or the charming telekinetic with "bad idea" written all over him? Emotions run high as the tension mounts in book two of the Farsighted series.


Praise for Farsighted, the first book in the series:

*BookBundlz Book Club Pick, 2012
*Best Multicultural Fiction, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, 2012
*Finalist, Eric Hoffer Award, 2012
*Overall Winner of the Dragonfly eBook Awards, 2011
*Best Young Adult Fiction, Dragonfly eBook Awards, 2011
*Best Debut Author, Dragonfly eBook Awards, 2011
*Winner of the Alternative Booker Award, 2011
*Winner of the WritersType First Chapter Competition, September 2011
*Runner-up for Best First Chapter, 2012 UP Awards
*Runner-up for Best Book Description, 2012 UP Awards


"Chand's characters are compelling and diverse... Shapri is a standout." - Kirkus Reviews

"A showdown...brings the novel to a surreal and...suspenseful close." - Publisher's Weekly

"A suspenseful and spellbinding mystery that grips you from the very start." - IndieReader 

"Alex Kosmitoras might not have a magic wand or vampiric strength and speed, but he is a totally swoon-worthy hero that any mom would be proud to let her daughter date." - Melissa Luznicky Garrett, author of Turning Point

"You don't have to be psychic to know that Farsighted is going to take the world by storm. Vampires are so last year." - Kimberly Kinrade, author of Forbidden Mind

"Farsighted is an epic battle of good versus evil that moves at breakneck speed to a stunning and totally unexpected conclusion." - Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah's Wake

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jillybug's thoughts on "Open Heart (Farsighted Series)"
updated on:6/29/2012



DEFINITELY Unleash it


"Open Heart (Farsighted Series)"
By Emlyn Chand

Average Rating:
DEFINITELY Unleash it
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)


The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 
 
 General reading guide discussion questions to be used with ANY book your book club or reading group might be discussing.
 
 

Book Club Discussion Guide

Open Heart (Farsighted #2)
by Emlyn Chand
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
ISBN: 978-0-9839308-4-6
Publisher: Blue Crown Press
Website: www.emlynchand.com
Prepared by Novel Publicity, LLC



About this Book

The second novel in the Farsighted series has quite a bit to live up to. After reading a coming-of-age tale from the point-of-view of a blind psychic, Emlyn Chand’s Open Heart’s point-of-view character, Simran “Simmi” Kaur Shergill, had to maintain the steady flow of the Farsighted plot and action. This is not always easy to accomplish when the point-of-view is from a young woman struggling to love her image and herself. Because of her clairsentience, Simmi is able to make others feel better, but cannot use her powers to ease her personal demons.

The reader learns early in the novel that Simmi constantly compares herself to other women and what society deems beautiful. She comments about being a size fourteen in U.S. manufacturing standards, which is huge, because as she says, “everybody knows America is the fattest country in the world.” Things take a turn for the worse when she meets Veronica “Ronnie” Franklin, a beautiful blonde high school girl, who comments on Simmi’s weight and uses any and every excuse to exploit the weakness. Ronnie is cruel for no apparent reason, which is true in many cases today. Bullying, racism, and social cliques still occur in schools today, and Chand seizes the opportunity to reveal that even the most beautiful of people can have ugly insides.

Open Heart takes a darker turn when Simmi discovers bulimia as a method of controlling her weight. Right before auditions for the school’s presentation of West Side Story, she confronts her fears in the girl’s restroom. From there, Simmi spirals into a character the reader sympathizes with and, at some points, hates. The exploration of bulimia transforms the YA Paranormal genre from being about schoolwork, boys, and mastering powers, to focusing on the reality many young women in America face. As American media emphasizes thinness as a model for beauty, the standard of self confidence among teenage girls and young women drops significantly. Chand breaks the mold by delving into the personal, and sometimes heartbreaking, obstacles the average teenage girl faces.

Other than bulimia, Simmi fights with her feelings of affection toward Alex. He saved her life the previous year, and she has become convinced that she is indebted to him. In order to fulfill her debt, Simmi tries her best to love Alex and maintain her relationship with him. At the same token, Alex becomes increasingly attached to her, which drives her away. The realization that she does not actually love Alex as a boyfriend reflects the unpleasant thoughts of a high school girl trying to find her place in the world, and in some cases, even results in Simmi going so far as to admit that she stole Alex away from her best friend the year before because she was jealous. Chand does a brilliant job of giving Simmi multiple layers. Where Alex was blunt and honest most of the time, Simmi is envious, self-focused, and pitiful. This mixture of characteristics is what makes her such a powerful, round person.

Overall, Open Heart’s pacing, themes, and characters expand the world of Farsighted and the sequel exceeds expectations. While Simmi is not the sweet, loving young woman readers saw in Farsighted, she does have a caring side. Like everyone, though, she has a private, darker side, which she tries desperately to eliminate or hide. One minute the reader hates her, and the next, Simmi is a sympathetic, real person who the reader cannot imagine being any other way.


Interview with the Author

Q: Simmi was a very difficult character for you to write. What were some of the hardest and rawest aspects of Simmi to put to paper?
A: Simmi was a hard character for me. When people read Farsighted and tell me they love Simmi, I want to shout, “No, you can’t! She’s so fake!” After coming to care about Alex, I didn’t like watching her mistreat and devalue him. As I delved deeper into her character, however, I understood that she’s a good person weighed down by her insecurities. During the course of Open Heart, I merged with her. When Simmi worried about her weight, felt inferior, and not good enough for the boyfriend she doesn’t love, her pain resonated with me in a personal way. Simmi forced me to confront my own insecurities.

Q: What do you want your readers to take away from Open Heart? Is there anything you would like to say to the young women who read this novel?
A: I want readers to start off despising Simmi then slowly come to understand and accept her. I want them to see themselves in her and realize that if Simmi can be redeemed and loved, so can they. Open Heart focuses on the theme of romantic love, but self-love is so much more important. Simmi would have been saved from many of her struggles if she just owned up to her problems and had the courage to move forward with her decisions.

Q: What about Dax’s personality is more appealing to Simmi than Alex’s personality?
A: Dax appeals to Simmi because of his hot-and-cold nature. One moment he’s completely ignoring her, and the next he’s providing her with an unforgettable romantic entanglement. The occasional distance makes his nearness that much more exciting and desirable. She also relishes the fact that, unlike Alex, Dax can see her, and he still chooses to be with her.

Q: Simmi and Shapri are polar opposites, not only in appearance, but in attitude. Were the characters like this before the series was written, or did they develop into such drastically different individuals as you wrote?
A: In Farsighted, Simmi was intended to serve as the object of Alex’s affection, more of a prop than a character. Shapri started off as a minor character, but quickly made it clear that this was her show. Starting out, Shapri was based on the strong, confident side of my self. As I delved deeper into Simmi’s psyche, I realized she was based on me, too—the insecure, unworthy side. In creating characters, we authors learn so much about ourselves!

Q: The series starts to take a darker turn with Simmi’s bulimia and the allusion to Alex’s substance addiction. Why did you include these themes in Open Heart?
A: Because they’re a part of life. Kids these days—kids any day—deal with major, realworld challenges. Life isn’t about finding the best boyfriend, acing the spelling test, or waking up to find you’re a secret princess; life is about the hard things, the things many authors shy away from in the YA genre. Alex, Simmi, Shapri, and Dax’s problems are going to become increasingly difficult as the series forges on.

Q: Open Heart does not span an entire school year. Why did you choose to chop the year apart the way you did? How will this affect the next book in the series?
A: I debated drawing Open Heart out for Simmi’s entire junior year, but it would have been overwrought (or twice as long). The end of Open Heart sets us up for book three, in which the characters venture to the spirit portal in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Also, Shapri and Dax are seniors during Open Heart, and Grandon’s not exactly a college town. I didn’t want to send Shapri to college and away from Alex and Simmi just yet.

Q: Why did you decide to include Murray and give him the same psychic power as Simmi?
A: Murray is similar to Shapri; he was supposed to be a minor character, but just wouldn’t stay in the darned box! With Grandon’s population boom, it was inevitable that many more psychically-abled students would attend the high school. Since I prefer to base my powers in reality rather than inventing fresh ones, I only had a limited offering of abilities. Clairsentience is the most diverse of the powers and the easiest to hide.

Q: Do you think that Shapri and Murray’s relationship (or lack thereof) can be attributed more to her ignorance of his affections or to her self-confidence? How does that compare to Simmi’s manipulation of Alex?
A: Shapri isn’t the type of girl who dates just to have a boyfriend, and she’s not one to play with others’ feelings, either. She enjoys spending time with Murray and never leads him to believe they are anything more than friends. She doesn’t think about Murray as a possible love interest, so she presumes he does not think of her that way, either. Simmi and Alex’s relationship is the complete opposite. By nature of her powers, Simmi is accustomed to manipulating other people’s emotions, but that doesn’t mean she feels good about it.

Q: Why did you center Open Heart around chakras?
A: The chakras represent the path to enlightenment, starting from a very physical-based realm and moving into the spiritual and intellectual. Simmi’s journey to discovering herself crosses each of these arenas. The chakras are also related to Simmi’s Indian culture and show how capable of growth she is.

Q: How did you represent the chakras throughout each section?
A: I took a while to research and reflect upon the designated chakra before starting into each section. Some parallels were easy to make. For example, each chakra is associated with a color and an element. Others required more finessing. The throat chakra relates to communication, so I incorporated notes, journaling, cell phone conversations, songs, and declarations of love. The power chakra holds our sense of self and proved to be the hardest for Simmi to open. During that section, Simmi first uses bulimia as a way to feel in control, and that feeling originates within her stomach, the resting place of the power chakra.

Q: What can readers expect from the next books in the series?
A: The next book, Pitch, will be told from Shapri’s point of view. She seems to be the favorite among readers, and for good reason. She’s brassy, sassy, and knows exactly who she is, so you can imagine how frustrating it is for her when her friends begin to doubt her. Add to that a few pesky ghosts who seem to have no concept of personal space, a trip to her hometown of New Orleans, and Alex’s dissent into a darker side of himself, and that sums up Pitch.


Discussion Questions

1. What is the significance of West Side Story in comparison to Simmi’s life and relationship? What are some similarities? Do those similarities impact Simmi’s choices in Open Heart?

2. Simmi acts and speaks differently around others than she does internally. Many times, her internal dialogue comes off as cold, heartless, and cruel. What does such an enormous difference between Simmi’s actions and thoughts say about people in general?

3. Ronnie Franklin has no psychic powers, yet she always seems to get what she wants. Is this due entirely to her father, or does she manipulate others without the use of powers? How is Ronnie’s character similar to the version of Simmi the reader gets to know?

4. Dax continues to play the role of the antagonist in Alex’s eyes, which causes Alex to become overly protective of Simmi, yet his actions drive her toward Dax. List five reasons why Alex’s actions caused her to fall for Dax, and then describe what Alex could have done differently to prevent her from leaving him.

5. How does Alex’s blindness affect Simmi and how she feels about her appearance? Do you think Alex’s affection for her would be different if he could see?

6. Each section of the novel is based off of a different yogic chakra. How does each section tie into that chakra using colors and imagery? List at least five examples from each section and discuss their significance to Simmi’s actions and choices.

7. How does each section reflect the mental, emotional, and physical references of its specific chakra? Does Simmi grow at the end of each section? How or how not?

8. How does Simmi’s bulimia and anorexia reflect society’s impact on young women today? Is it fair to say that Simmi is the embodiment of the average high school girl?

9. How does Simmi’s gorging, followed by purging, echo the American consumer society as a whole?

10. Note how careful Dax is after learning about Simmi’s bulimia. He never takes her out to eat or makes picnics for her; the only food he brings to her are M&Ms and candy corn. Instead, he appeals to her romantic and musical side as well as her powers. Does Dax do this out of affection, or is he trying to manipulate her? Explain.

11. After West Side Story, the next school play is going to be The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare. Simmi mentions how much she dislikes it because there is no singing. Do you think this foreshadows events to come in Pitch?

12. Compare and contrast Simmi and Alex as narrators. Who is more honest? Why? What are some of the downfalls of having an honest narrator?

13. How do the characters, setting, and story change in Open Heart as the result of having a sighted narrator as compared with Farsighted?

14. When Shapri opens her body to Dax’s younger sister, Simmi is given the rare opportunity to observe two siblings torn apart by an accident. Does Dax come off as genuine in this scene? Why or why not?

15. Discuss the meaning(s) of the epigraphs at the beginning of each section and how they are relevant to the novel as a whole.

16. Compare and contrast Alex’s and Simmi’s parents, particularly their psychic comingof-age stories. Do their tales justify their actions, as in why Greg never told Alex about his gifts and why Simmi’s mother never wanted to teach Simmi to hone her gifts?

17. Racism and “the other” are enormous themes in Open Heart and are still concerns in schools today. For example, reread the Homecoming crowning scene. What are some of the key differences between Simmi and the Homecoming royalty? Simmi focuses on her reaction compared to Shapri’s; where Shapri does not seem to care, Simmi does. Why do you think that is?

18. Discuss Simmi’s relationship with Neha. The two rarely interact, though Neha is very concerned about Simmi’s “sickness” after she sees Simmi throwing up. The situation only worsens when Neha comes home to find that Simmi has eaten all of her Halloween candy. Simmi begs her sister not to tell, but the younger girl eventually does. What sort of strain does Neha’s presence put on Simmi’s relationship with her friends, parents, and herself?

19. What is the significance of Dax telling Simmi the story of Andromeda and Cassiopeia? Why does Simmi assume she is like Andromeda and Ronnie represents Cassiopeia? What does this say about Simmi’s personality?

20. Joe Franklin, Ronnie’s father, gets his way more often than not because of his clairsentience. How do his powers manifest throughout the story? Compare his level of psychic prowess with Simmi’s and Murray’s. In all three cases, is it ever morally justified to use clairsentience to manipulate others’ emotions?

21. Simmi’s mother’s story about her first love, Kishore, reminds Simmi of her relationship with Dax, though she believes that he could never harm another person. Compare Dax to Kishore and Simmi to her mother. What are some of the similarities and differences? Could Simmi’s mother’s tale foreshadow Dax’s fate?

22. Flowers play an enormous role when Dax and Alex court Simmi. Alex is the first to give Simmi a flower—a Stargazing Lily—which she plays with in suggestive manners. Discuss why this is important and her thoughts while she toys with the lily. The lily is later trampled in a moment of passion with Alex. What might some of the reasons be for this?

23. Unlike Alex, Dax gives Simmi origami roses. What are some of the reasons why Alex is portrayed as organic, while Dax is manufactured? 24. What does the Halloween scene where Dax dresses as the bachelor and gives Simmi an organic rose say about Dax’s desire to mimic Alex and keep Simmi for himself?

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Emlyn Chand is the president of Novel Publicity and a YA author. She loves to hear and tell stories and emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Her first novel Farsighted released in late 2011 and is of the YA genre. Learn more about Emlyn at www.emlynchand.com or by connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or GoodReads.


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