29 April 2013

Oleander Girl By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Oleander Girl By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
Audience/Genre: Women/Contemporary.
Publication: March 2013 by Simon and Schuster.
THOUGH SHE WAS ORPHANED AT BIRTH, the wild and headstrong Korobi Roy has enjoyed a privileged childhood with her adoring grandparents, spending her first seventeen years sheltered in a beautiful, crumbling old mansion in Kolkata. But despite all that her grandparents have done for her, she is troubled by the silence that surrounds the circumstances of her parents’ death and clings fiercely to her only inheritance from them: the love note she found, years ago, hidden in a book of poetry that had belonged to her mother. As she grows, Korobi dreams of one day finding a love as powerful as her parents’, and it seems her wish has finally come true when she meets the charming Rajat, the only son of a high-profile business family.
Shortly after their engagement, however, a sudden heart attack kills Korobi’s grandfather, revealing serious financial problems and a devastating secret about Korobi’s past. Shattered by this discovery and by her grandparents’ betrayal, Korobi decides to undertake a courageous search across post-9/11 America to find her true identity. Her dramatic, often startling journey will ultimately thrust her into the most difficult decision of her life.

Reviewed by Kelly.
Wow, what a book. I have to admit to being scared of reviewing a book written by someone from India on a blog from India while being an American myself. What justice could I do to it? I admit that my only cultural diversity here is that I am a labor and delivery nurse and have witnessed many cultures in their having a baby.

I had a hard time at the beginning. I didn't know the proper use of names or a lot of the foods or what the name of clothes looked like. I found myself all of a sudden looking for people from India and trying to figure out what the name of the clothing was.I was intrigued!

I also was amazed at how scandal of any level affected them. How hard that must be!

But, I found I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was non stop things going on, once I got past the beginning, I couldn't find the time to keep reading it. I would sneak a few sentences in at work whenever I could. Then I stayed up until I heard my husband's alarm clock going off this morning.

There is tradition and family and honor and all kinds of emotion and everything! There is so much pride here and you hope by the end that they would let the pride go. But who am I to judge, I am just an outside observer of this culture.

The writing is amazing. I saw the characters grow and learn to love their families even deeper. I saw how they learned from mistakes and terrible tragedies.

There was a point or two where I wanted the main character, Korobi, to just give up. But she is strong and I admired her for her fearlessness. I got ahead of myself.

Korobi finds out that she has been told a lie all her life after her grandfather dies.She has loved her grandfather dearly and it is very painful for her. She has just become engaged to Rajat and her world seems to spiral out of control.She may still have a father who is alive and not dead as she has been told. She travels to America to find him. Rajat's family is well to do and don't want scandal of this nature. They don't want her to leave.

Meanwhile, Rajat's family is having some financial issues.There is some problems at their warehouse one day when Rajat's father is away. Rajat decides he needs to handle it. But it doesn't go well. There are two different religions and Rajat unwittingly stirs up a strike and threats start. Rajat also has an old girlfriend who is extremely rich and spoiled and not a proper girl in any culture. She is trouble from the getgo and sometimes I wanted to slap Rajat and her and then other times I just wanted them to get back together so Korobi would find someone else.

Korobi's journey and Rajat's family problems occur at the same time and they don't always communicate with each other well which causes many problems.

Rajat's sister Pia and their chauffeur Asif were one of the pieces of the story that I loved most. Asif was not of the same religion. He was loyal to Rajat's family, but mostly to Pia. He would do anything for her and he does risk his life for her after the family treats him poorly. Pia is a cute little sister who is a little modernized. I loved her she is what draws everyone together.

Rajat's parents and Korobi's grandmother have their POV's in the story as well as Asif, Rajat and Korobi. I won't go into their stories but they are all amazing.

In the end, there is forgiveness and pride is forgotten and love is everywhere. If you love a story of redemption,forgiveness and some action than this a great story for you. Again, I really can't do this book justice. There is a lot of culture that I learned about and I don't think I could do it justice by describing it.

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  1. Loved your review Anjana!! I will surely read it ASAP darling!! Recently read this cute book called as Beaten by Bhagath by author SV Divvaakar. It was a fun read. Light, cool & yet sent shivers down my spine when I read the reality about the publishing industry. If you have some spare time please do read this book sweetheart!!

  2. happy that you loved this book. I will not say that I loved it as much as you did though.