Welcome back to the site that loves you and you and you and EVEN YOU for simply making a stopover at my site a part of your day....Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers. Hopefully you leave with some new bookish news, wonder, or desire that leads you onward to your next reading adventure, wherever that may lead.
Speaking of adventures....blogging has been an adventure and a half! With four years under my belt, I can only thank each and every one of you that has touched my life in some way whether it be reading/sharing your work, friendship, a kind word in passing or simply a book recommendation (though really, those aren't THAT simple either...^_^). It's been fun and I'm looking forward to the coming year. In celebration of our AWESOMENESS, you have a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of a fabulous MG Fiction title from the great folks over at Quirk Books. Sound good? Great! I mean, good. ^_^ Tell you what, finish reading today's post and then hop on over to the contest and get yourself entered to win. Deal? Okay. Let us continue...
Today's selection is a story that mixes cultures and strong traditions in a steaming, bubbling stew of life, love, and heartache. There's tragedy, romance, beginnings, endings and everything in between and though it might sound similar to something you've read before, I highly suggest you reconsider because this one doesn't follow any "formula" that I've read...and with much success. Today's book of choice is...
About the book...
THE YOUNGEST OF SIX daughters raised by a widowed mother, Meena is a young woman struggling to find her place in the world. Originally from India, her family still holds on to many old-world customs and traditions that seem stifling to a young North American woman. She knows that the freedom experienced by others is beyond her reach. But unlike her older sisters, Meena refuses to accept a life dictated by tradition. Against her mother’s wishes, she falls for a young man named Liam who asks her to run away with him. Meena must then make a painful choice—one that will lead to stunning and irrevocable consequences.
This is one of those books that breaks the mold on what we've come to anticipate in female character driven novels and pulls the rug out on happily-ever-after's, sending you for loop after loop of textual highs and lows you'll not want to break away from. In short...don't be fooled by it's illustrated cover (though I personally like it) or the shorter length (but those are refreshing sometimes), it's GOOD.
Don't believe me? Check my GoodReads updates during my read. There's maybe 1, perhaps 2? No, it's not because I got lazy; it's because there's not really a breaking point within the story. It's page after page of family drama dosed with enough love and failed attempts at it to break your heart. Meena's life was tough, and I mean TOUGH, at times but she was also graced with so many loves. Love of family and from her family despite the veiled ways in which it was shown and even withheld at times. Love of her life times two with an idiot in between to liven things up. Okay, I'm being unfair. The situations she found herself in were not purely her own doing nor those of the incredible ignoramus she wound up with, more like a result of turning a blind eye to love's actual glow in favor of what looks best or keeps in step with a certain way of life. I'm not knocking tradition or anyone's culture but really...come on! There had to be a better choice here. There HAD to be. *shakes head*
It was hard reading at times what this young lady was going through. Trying to find yourself at that age is hard enough let alone having to define yourself by someone else's standards and hide your true heart. There were many times when I wanted to simply offer my shoulder to cry on or pull her out of her misery myself and into the arms of the one that held her heart. Now, before you go thinking that her heart belonging to another caused all the troubles to come, trust me...it didn't. The ground work for unhappiness was laid when the arrangement (marriage) was finalized; it's simply the true colors of who was suppose to be her "better half" coming out to play in not so good ways that turned what could have been an amicable life into something to fear.
Those that play vital roles in Meena's life are plenty, and yet those that actually "act" on her behalf are fewer and further between. A quick run down: Sunny, movie star looks and that's about as deep as the man goes...on the good side of things; Kal, decent guy though held back by tradition to some degree...he's the steadiest and truest of the bunch; Liam, the apple of her eye, the beat of her heart, the...well you get the picture...but by the time a re-connection is made, it might be too late. That my friends is just the fellas. We haven't even spoken of her many "Aunties" (a term applied to almost all females in the culture from what I've gathered...not necessarily their true Aunt), her mother Serena, or grandmother, sisters, neighbors...etc. Too many to count make cameos but the select few that remain will make an impression, I assure you.
In conclusion, a story that leaves its mark on both your heart and your mind. It reminds us to not take for granted the freedoms most of us enjoy in life AND in love. Freedom of speech. Freedom to act (within reason obviously). Freedom to do the things we do every day that seem mundane and unimportant because in some cultures, it may not be permitted...and you thought banning books was bad. Open your eyes to a new fictional adventure through the cultural landscape that helps shape our world and revel in a story of a life that could have ended many times over, yet persevered.
ARC for review courtesy of Irwin at Pintail Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA. (THANKS!) For more information on this title as well as their complete catalog, be sure to stop by their site, like them on Facebook, pin them on Pinterest, or follow along on Twitter. To discover more of the writing world of author Gurjinder Basran, she can be found at her official website and on Facebook. Recommended read for older teens through adults due to some content. This book is available now so be on the look out for it on a bookstore shelf near you.
Until next time...happy reading!