Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera – Book Review

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It is not often that you read a book and feel like you have been witness to a piece of art. Island of a Thousand Mirrors is like art on canvas. Bold strokes, intricate detailing, vivid imagery and a pathos that grips you. By the time I was done reading, I felt awash in emotion. Grief, horror, wonder hit me in waves. Then I slowed down and savored it again.

It reads like a memoir though it isn’t one, making you want to go back and re-read chapters in order to get the family tree right in your head. As the stories of women alternate and intersect, you feel your heart race and brace for the eventual outcome.

The description of Sri Lanka, the aromas the food evoke, the dialect, the names of the characters all speak of careful detail. Of a story told from the heart. It delves into the Sinhala – Tamil conflict in a way that is an eye opener for someone who has but passing knowledge of the area or the civil war that has consumed the island nation.

Pick it up if you enjoy the language as much as the story, if you want to read a story that will haunt you for weeks afterwards.

Brilliant debut novel.

Every Last One – Book Review

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If you catch yourself thinking about snippets from a book when you least expect it, chances are the book is a good one. I read Every Last One on an impulse this past week. This is my first Anna Quindlen book. Usually I read author bios, read reviews online before I commit to a book. Not this time. I dived headfirst. It is a book I could put down in the midst of getting chores done, pick it up and continue reading. Yet, it has a strange way of insinuating itself in your thoughts. You wonder what would it be like to be Mary Beth. To live a humdrum existence populated by worries afflicting mothers worldwide. To be reassured that nothing like the dysfunction that affects your neighbor casts a shadow on your life. And then to have it all turned upside down overnight. Where do you go from there?

I loved the first person narrative. The sections she talks about what happens in her head. The questions we should ask but never do. The answers that stay at the tip of our tongues never slipping out. The monotony that gets to us yet we plod on. In the mundane-ness of the protagonist’s setting, Quindlen makes us relive our biggest fears. She makes us take stock of what we have and what we could lose.

It is not a book that grips you by the collar and does not let go till it is done. It is rather like the sleep that creeps up on you after a heavy meal. You are asleep before you acknowledge the yawns. Pick it up if you are in the mood for something introspective. A book that you could read in snatches through the week. A book you could ponder over as you drive.