Next book


Compared to the expressive, deeply felt chapters about Yasodhara’s family, Munaweera’s depiction of war-torn Sri Lanka,...

The Sri Lankan civil war’s traumatic effect on the island nation's people—and one family in particular—is the subject of this verdantly atmospheric first novel.

After a graphic post-coital prologue, Sri Lanka born California resident Munaweera begins her family saga in 1948, when the British leave their former colony Ceylon, where the Tamil majority is looked down on by the lighter-skinned Sinhala ruling class. Nishan and his twin sister, Mala—children of an ambitious Sinhala teacher and a laid-back doctor of uncertain bloodlines—leave their coastal village to attend university in Colombo. Free spirit Mala falls in love with another student and marries without traditional arranged nuptials. Nishan, an engineer, is deemed acceptable to marry aristocratic Visaka, the daughter of an Oxford-educated Sinhala judge, only because the judge’s expenditures while renovating his home shortly before his death have left his family financially strapped. Visaka’s mother has recently had to rent out the upstairs of her house, and Nishan does not know that Visaka marries him while pining for Ravan, one of her mother’s Tamil tenants. Ravan and his new wife live upstairs while Nishan and Visaka move in downstairs, where they raise daughters Yasodhara and Luxshmi. Yasodhara’s closest playmate and soul mate is Ravan’s son Shiva. The children live there in innocent bliss until 1983, when Mala’s husband is brutally murdered by an angry mob during increasing Tamil-Sinhala unrest. Nishan and Visaka react by moving to America, where their daughters soon assimilate. But after a college relationship ends badly, Yasodhara allows her parents to pick a husband for her. As Yasodhara’s marriage falls apart, successful artist Luxshmi returns to Sri Lanka to teach children wounded in the war. Meanwhile, in northern Sri Lanka, a young Timor girl is drawn into the intensifying civil war until her life’s destiny crosses those of Luxshmi and Yasodhara.

Compared to the expressive, deeply felt chapters about Yasodhara’s family, Munaweera’s depiction of war-torn Sri Lanka, though harrowing, seems rushed and journalistic, more reported than experienced.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04393-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

Next book


Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

Next book


A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

Close Quickview