The language in this book is beautiful. It produces a dreamlike narrative where the reader is carried along by the events taking place, so that the most horrific things that are happening in the Sri Lankan civil war seem to carry a deeper and more profound meaning than just three families caught up in a conflict. I liked how seamlessly the history of the island is incorporated into the main narrative, so that as a reader, I was transported to this paradise-turned-hell-on-earth and carried along each step of the way with the protagonists.
The one thing that pulled me out of the story is that there are some confusing moments/transitions which I think speaks to this being Munaweera's first book. The book begins in a time before the protagonist is born, but I didn't feel that inserting elements of the present-day into the initial setup of the story really added much to the narrative. There is one passage where one of the protagonists explains directly to the reader why she starts the story before she is born. It pulled me out of the narrative somewhat, and made me aware that I was being told a story rather than just being able to enjoy the story itself. This is useful if it is a repeated conceit that adds extra meaning to the narrative, but it seemed to be the only part of the story where there is this forced type of self-identification, so it stuck out to me.
The second confusing part for me was at the beginning of Part 2, where another "I" protagonist appears with no explanation of who this person is in relation to the original family that the reader has been following for the first half of the book. The connection becomes apparent later, but I still felt it was a confusing transition for the reader. It lost me a bit as I floundered in the narrative trying to figure out what was going on. A very simple and commonly-used device would have negated my confusion - in each part, if the name of the protagonist had been used after the section or chapter title, such as "Part 1: Yasodhara" or "Chapter 8: Saraswathi," it would have easily indicated a change in character without necessitating extra explanation to pull the reader out of the story.
Other than these small technical items which caused a bit of confusion, I really enjoyed this bittersweet story. When I close a good book, I want it to linger in my thoughts, and this book did. I would definitely recommend it.
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I read a lot - depending on my writing schedule, I can usually read about a book a day. Some of the books are fantastic and I would love to recommend to everyone - some, not so much. Either way, I thought I would share a few thoughts on what I'm reading at the moment.