Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

To begin with, I’d like thank Hitesh, one of my book-crazy pals, for introducing me to yet another awesome writer.

It has been on my to-do list for this year to read a lot of Indian literature and explore more of Indian writers. Chitra Banerjee is one of those few writers who has a most stunning style of writing and I most willingly wait to read more of her books.

The story revolves around Korobi, a seventeen year old, beautiful girl, who loses her mother right after her birth with no news about her father except to believe that he was dead. She is raised by her extremely protective and loving maternal grandparents until this age. She is just a few hours away from her big day; it is her engagement with Rajat, a pleasant man from a wealthy family, when an earth-shattering secret is revealed to her, which changes the course of her life drastically.

Following her grandfather’s death, Korobi learns that her life has been a smartly woven fabric of secrets. She cannot stop herself from hating her grandfather for everything that he kept from her and involved her grandmother too in the crime.

Needless to say, when past is dug a lot of stories spring up from the grounds that are never expected. Korobi too learns harsh truths, most of which will take a lot of courage to be accepted. For instance, she learns that her father was possibly never dead, that it was perhaps, a lie. But then it’s been 17 years. Where is he now? Why didn’t he try and find her? Is he really alive?

And now since she is planning to travel to America which possibly holds answers to all the questions, will her future family stand by her? Will they support her decision? What if they do not accept what she reaps and finds along on her journey?

But she decides there is no going back without having found answers to these questions. It is a matter of life and death for her. With the answers, she is going to live. Without having made the effort, she is going to die of self-torment each day till the end of her life.

I have mixed feelings about the book. Although, I kept glued to the pages and read it for hours together, there was something amiss about the story. Apart from Korobi, the characters were feebly developed. Certain instances, I found Korobi week as a kitten and she portrayed a level of immaturity that could not escape my attention. But given the simple yet intriguing story-line, I could easily forget the little expectations the otherwise great book had built. I loved it nonetheless.

I’d dived head-first into the book and it does live upto the light heart-felt reading experience that you expect from it. Nothing but that made me fall in love with Chitra Banerjee’s style of writing.

Least to say is, this book holds the penchant that makes you want to believe that there still is some good left in the world.
Perhaps, not all is gone, not all is lost. Simple yet compelling, this book had an ever-lasting impression on my mind and I look forward to reading rest of her books.

-Asha

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