Zena Al Maskari

The Religion of Self-Enlightenment – A Review

Emily Scialom’s debut novel is the compelling tale about a certain Carrick Ares’ experience with death and is also one of the strangest books I’ve ever read – but for all the right reasons. The Religion of Self-Enlightenment is thought-provoking, powerful and a special kind of book that I think any university student needs to read (or anyone just struggling to figure out life’s mysteries for that matter).

Although the book itself is not very long, the pages are filled with a rich flow of ideas that continuously feed the reader’s mind which is why I could barely put the book down whilst reading it. Carrick claims to find it nearly impossible to express himself, but I disagree; I was able to understand exactly what was being said by the raw issues we all encounter.

It was refreshing to read these ideas that have plagued my own mind (and others I’m sure) being directly tackled and brought to light. It was also comforting to know that these personal worries about one’s own beliefs, morals and purpose in life is something that everyone faces; I like knowing that I’m not the only one who possesses these thoughts and asks these questions of one’s self.

I love the irony that Carrick only has life put into perspective once he’s experienced death. I think this really hones in on the fact that we really do take life, in all its confusion and chaos, for granted. Scialom teaches us not only the value of gratitude, but the need to confront oneself and take the time to ask the right questions to hopefully figure out the answers we need to hear for ourselves.

In this tumultuous, crazy world we do need to sit down sometimes and just reflect, not on all the chaos going around us, but the whirlpool that’s going on right inside our heads. As with Carrick, our shaky conviction is a terrible consequence that we’re never allowed time to discern our beliefs in the mad rush for money and power. It’s this kind of direct, sharp phrasing that we need to hear to wake up to the fact that maybe our dissatisfaction lies in organising the shelves wrong; maybe it’s time to sit back for a moment and just re-prioritise. Through Carrick’s own journey of self-analysis, we are also enabled to look at ourselves closely and ask are we really living the best lives we can lead?


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