Monday, 10 December 2012
Everything Was Good-Bye - Gurjinder Basran
As the youngest of six girls and a widowed mother, Meena struggles to understand who she is and what she wants from life. With her Indian background living in Canada, her cultural background is sometimes a hindrance to the life she thinks she should be leading.
Always toeing the line, she sees the pain and sorrow in her mother's face - loss of a husband and then a daughter who stood up against the strict Indian upbringing and left home - bringing shame upon their family name.
So it is with little wonder that Meena hides her friendship with Liam, a white boy from school. Their relationship is special but they don't disclose to each other just how special.
Pouring her thoughts into a journal, Meena dreams of becoming a writer but knows it can't happen. Can't or won't? When Liam announces he's had enough and asks her to leave with him, she hesitates - can she cause the same anguish to her mother as her elder sister did? Leaving means freedom, staying means marrying a man she doesn't love, that isn't Liam. Will Meena make that bold move?
Expectations were met and went beyond with this debut novel. From the fragrant opening, this story hooks and draws you into the complex world of a beautiful and intelligent Indian woman. Basrant evokes a place that is at times far removed from western living yet so similar - who doesn't want their child do well, marry someone with a good job? Characterization is excellent with each person being wholly defined and there are funny moments as well as touches of black humor. But essentially it is a very poignant love story, dripping in culture. Eloquently written with tiny details that have created a vivid piece of writing, there is an air of slight desperation with not just Meena, but also her mother, elder sisters and even relatives as they all endeavor to live a life dictated by tradition.
This beautifully written story is as quiet and unassuming as Meena herself. The finer details - smells and sounds - assault the mind and once started I couldn't put it down. It's a richly told story of family, of how a younger generation want more than their parents did and how parents struggle to give it to them without loss of where they came from. It would be easy to gush over this brilliant novel, but I won't - just read it and you'll see why I think it's a great piece of literature. A very highly recommended read. Note: due to be published Jan 2013.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Pintail publishing. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive review.