Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal

Once again, Shobhan Bantwal has captured my attention in her book, "the Unexpected Son".  She write of modern Indo-Americans and the issues relating.  This book tells the story of Vinita, married for close to 25 years to Girish Patal.  She immigrated to the US from India shortly after their marriage.  A mysterious letter from Mubai arrives letting her know that the son she secretly gave birth to 30 years before lives and is dying from leukemia.  Vinita had been told that that son had been born stillborn. 
The story flashes back 30 years to India, where Vinita had been a very serious college student, seduced by Som Kori, a local playboy.
As always Bantwal brings to light the complex issues surrounding (in this case) unwed mothers and family pride in India.  A fantastic read.  I just love her writing.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Full Moon Bride by Shobhan Bantwal

Full Moon Bride explores the idea of arranged marriage in Indo-American culture.  Soorya is a fully modern first generation American woman.  She is a succesful lawyer and has embraced her home country.  She is also fully respectful and fully involved in her Indian ancestery.  She lives at home with her parents and is fully respectful of them and her grandmother who lives with them.  What Soorya is looking for now is marriage.  She has never dated.  She would love to have a family.  She sees her best friend embarking onto her own life in marriage, a love match typical of Americans.  She also knows that her own parents have a successful marriage and that theirs was arranged in India.  So what for Sorrya?  Does she continue on with 'bride viewings' and potential Indian suitors of similar backgrounds, or, does she venture out of arranged marriages completely and give the American dating scene a go?  A very enjoyable read.

When Joy Came to Stay by Karen Kingsbury

When Joy Came to Stay is the story of Maggie, a woman battling depression.  She seems to have the perfect life but as is often true, the masks we wear cover up a history of hurt.  Maggie ends up checking herself into a mental institution.  Her husband comes home to find her note.  What is uncovered is a history that will challenge them both to the bottom of despair and back again.  It's a really great tale of how we can find the root of our hurts and how to begin to heal from them.  It is also a great tale of loving people and how to love people.  I really enjoyed this book.

On Every Side by Karen Kingsbury

On Every Side is a story about public rights and freedom of religion.  Jordan is a very angry, young, successful lawyer.  The company that he works for deliberately sets out to squash any sort of public expression of Christianity.  He decides that the next target should be a Jesus statue that is in a public part in a small town.  You know from the get go that there is an underlying reason that he is targeting this particular town and that reason is connected to his own personal biases against Christianity.  It's a matter of reading through the story to find out just what those are and how it all plays out.  As often happens in a Kingsbury book some of the play by play just seems a little too good to be something that would actually ever happen.  But then there is a suspension of disbelief in novels as well as an allusion to "with God all things are possible".  Still, an enjoyable read and an interesting basis for a story, especially considering in the years since she wrote this book how much today's society has hidden away any sort of public testimony.

Where Yesterday Lives by Karen Kingsbury

Ellen is a busy, career focused married woman who is called home for the funeral of her father.  She absolutely idolized him.  Her siblings however, have a very different picture of who he was and how they grew up.  Ellen's longing to return and relish in her cherished memories unearth other memories, memories of her first love.  She finds herself overwhelmed with emotion and unsure of where to turn.  This book was a very touching, very real read. 

Just Beyond the Clouds by Karen Kingsbury

A Thousand Tomorrows was one of my favorite Kingsbury books.  I was quite excited to find out there was a sequel.  Just Beyond the Clouds focuses on Cody's return home and his relationship with his brother Carl Joseph, who has Down Syndrome.  Carl Joseph has been attending a a program that teaches him the skills he needs to lead a more independent lifestyle.  This comes as quite a shock to Cody who has a very old school mentality on just what it is that Carl Joseph can and can't do.  This was the most interesting part of the story for me. 
I do suggest you read these books in order.  Though you could read this one and understand who the characters are, I do believe that that the books are better read together and that A Thousand Tomorrows is the better of the two books.

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

This was one of my favorite Plum books in a while.  It is full of things blowing up, Stephanie getting into scrapes and all characters working at their full potential.  Eighteen books in you do wonder what if anything will ever change.  Will she ever pick between Morelli and Ranger?  Will either of them ever just move on because she won't?  I think I've just accepted this series the same way I accepted Scooby Doo when I was 8.  It's basically the same story over and over again, well done and highly entertaining, not to be taken seriously.

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

I really don't know what to make of Girls in White Dresses.  The cover says one thing, the story inside is completely different.  When I picked it up I thought I was going to read a book about 3 single girl friends who are going about their own independent life while other friends of theirs get married and all the parallels that change friendships.  Instead, what I got was a number of over lapping stories with so many characters that I had a difficulty keeping them all straight (I did a lot of flipping back and forth on this one which is highly unusual for me).  The story also jumped a number of months at a time.  It was a highly readable book in some ways, but in other it was confusing and slightly depressing, with no real conclusion in the end.  Not my favorite book of the year.