August 27, 2010

BLOG TOUR: The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal

I <3> India.

That is the truth. I have been in love with India ever since I had my first Indian curry, since I first got to know my brother-in-law (who is from India), since I watched my first documentary on Indian culture and life, since I first studied Hinduism and Buddhism, since I first laid my eyes on and set my feet down in Mumbai last October.

I am what you could call obsessed with India.

I love reading and learning about all cultures across the world but India holds a special place in my heart. I love the culture- it is rich and vibrant, laid-back yet hard-working, steeped in tradition yet constantly evolving and embracing new technology and a global society. I love the saris, I love the history, I love the spirituality, I love the sense of community, I love the food, I love chai tea the way I first had it when it was prepared for me by my brother-in-law's aunt. I just love everything.

So when Nikki Leigh asked me if I wanted to participate in a very small blog tour for Shobhan Bantwal's new book, The Unexpected Son, even though I wasn't taking review books, I jumped at the chance. I love reading about Indians. (Okay, okay, I know you get the point.)

The Unexpected Son is dubbed by Bantwal as an Indian romance novel. As you know, I don't usually go for romance or chick-lit. But once again it is India. I found the book to be amazing in its references to Indian culture. I loved discovering new terms I could use with my new family there. I loved learning about the Hindu ritual of bhau beej, that Arre Deva! means Oh God! (so using that), about bahsundee (a dessert) and kheema samosas (deep-fried turnovers stuffed with spicy minced meat), and I learned that "Bus kara, baba" means "Stop it, fellows." I also loved recognizing Indian names, as a few of the ones in this book are also the names of friends of mine.

I also loved that I felt connected to Vinita. Poor Vinita who went against everything she believed in and held dear and had a teenage fling. Vinita who got completely screwed by the boy- Som Kori- who was the object of her affection in said fling. Vinita who got pregnant by Som Kori in said fling and who was left alone to deal with the problem. Vinita who was whisked away by her brother to Bombay to have her baby and then told by her family the child died when it really did not so she and her family would not have the stigma of an unwed mother following them around forever. (Note: Vinita had pneumonia when her baby was delivered and did not wake up for I believe it was several days following the birth so it was plausible that the baby died and was already cremated by her family.)

However, thirty years later Vinita, who is now living in the U.S. with her husband and daughter, receives a mysterious letter from an anonymous person in India telling her that her son that she had so long ago is sick with leukemia and that Vinita's brother, Vishal, would have answers. She calls Vishal who has to break the news to her- her son did not die that day. Her son was hidden from her and then given up for adoption to a family that Vishal selected. The shock of learning her son was alive was enough but then to realize you have a son who is dying must be unbearable. She hasn't even told her husband about having a baby before they met and he retreats into a shell as she flies to India to see if she can meet her son and be a possible candidate for a bone marrow transplant.

And she must bravely confront the past she had thought she had put behind her- her son, Som Kori, the stigma for her and her family, the deceit and lies from her family, the violence between the Marathis and Kannadas, two language-based factions vying for control in her town of Palgaum, and she has to deal with whether her husband will ever forgive her and talk to her again after she kept the secret for so long.

I think this book was a very fascinating look into Indian society and culture. It really takes a look at the differences between traditional Indian values, the more modern outlook on life in India, and modern American life. I cared about the characters and about the outcome of the story. I will be looking to read Bantwal's other books.

THE STATISTICS:
BOOK #: 52
RATING: 4 Stars
FOR CHALLENGES: Countdown Challenge, Twenty Ten Challenge, A to Z, New Authors, 100+ in 2010
GENRE: Indian Romance
PUBLISHER: Kensington Books
FORMAT/PAGES: Paperback/326
HEY, FCC!: I received this book for review from Nikki Leigh.

6 comments:

  1. I've debated on this one. I'm glad you thought it was good.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That was an awesome review and I honestly loved reading about all the things you loved about this book. It truly sounds like one I would enjoy as I'm fascinated by India too. Though maybe not to the degree you are!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. A very nice review! Made me want to know how the story ends.

    Greetings,
    Tiina

    ReplyDelete
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