From Publishers WeeklyStarred Review. In Appanah's impressive novel, two young boys living in Mauritius during WWII secretly become friends. Eight-year-old Raj and his two brothers live on a sugar plantation where their parents eke out a marginal living. But Raj's brothers are swept away in a torrent, and the family moves to the heart of the island, where his abusive father finds work as a prison guard, overseeing European and Jewish inmates exiled from Palestine by the British to Mauritius, where they await the war's end. Here Raj meets David, a detainee close to his age, and feels an immediate kinship with him despite Raj's father's warnings that the prison holds dangerous men. When Raj's father beats him so severely that he's admitted to the prison infirmary, his friendship with David deepens; the love Raj can no longer give his brothers he offers to David. Weather once again intervenes in Raj's life when a cyclone hits the island, and he and David attempt to outrun their fates together. Appanah's descriptions are meticulous, and the heartbreakingly endearing Raj makes for an unforgettable protagonist. (Feb.)
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I read this book as a part of the book club over at Devourer of Books and Linus's Blanket. I was supposed to post this yesterday but I've been sick, so I JUST finished this book early this morning. I cannot decide where to start. This book was beautiful. It was just simply gorgeous. I can't form the right words to describe how much this book moved me.
Raj, oh dear sweet boy/old man, you moved me almost to tears! Your relationship with David, though short lived, proves that one person can make a big difference in another's life. I ached for him and his Mother. I cannot imagine going through that and living like that, but still ending up seemingly happy.
His father, oh I wished I could have jumped into the book and smacked him over the head so hard! I hated that man. I wished so many terrible things onto him, that I just had to put the book down for a bit.
I wanted to weep for David. His story is told only in shadow, but you understand. Raj may not get it until later, but the reader does. Appanah was wonderful at painting little David's character. The way she infers why David is there..his story is just all the more gut wrenching for it.
This book was divine and beautiful as much as it was bleak and disturbing! There is loss, love, heartache and hope. I loved it and am glad I was able to read it!
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