From the Publisher
“A fascinating story, skilfully written, of a rebellious young woman’s remarkable courage.” - Jack Hodgins
“Exceptional.” - The Vancouver Sun
“Basran’s writing is by turns elegant and poetic.” - Quill & Quire
"A tender novel about identity and the search for belonging that is both humorous and heartbreaking. In Meena, Basran has created a feisty, complicated and irrepressible heroine." - Thrity Umrigar
“A sad story, ending in a misery born from that clash of cultures, but the writing is vivid, full of crackling dialogue, and the plot is completely absorbing…. Basran’s book reminds me of the work of the Pulitzer-prize winning novelist, Bengali American writer Jhumpa Lahiri, who also draws the outsider into the world of Indian immigrants to North America, vividly expressing their difficult adaptation…. She is clearly on the same path as Lahiri, a writer on the first step to greatness.” - Toronto Star
“Thought-provoking and compelling…. Timely and engaging.” - Winnipeg Free Press
Basran’s raw, sad debut tells the story of Meena’s struggle between her desires and her Indian family’s traditions. In 1980s Vancouver, teenaged Meena, the youngest of six sisters, chafes against her widowed mother’s strictures, made worse by the fact that her older sister, Harj, ran away. When Meena starts hanging out with Liam, a white boy from school who shares her love for post-punk music and her outsider’s view of the world, she longs to give in to her deepening feelings for him, but she knows she can’t hurt her mother that badly. After Liam leaves Vancouver, breaking Meena’s heart, Meena enters into a loveless arranged marriage with spoiled “catch” Sunny Gill and begins a trance of unhappiness broken only when she runs into Liam at a party. With Sunny in India for six weeks, Meena and Liam tumble into a torrid affair that reopens the same questions about love and approval. When Meena’s choice becomes even more complicated, the odds of disaster rise, and Meena must finally find her inner strength. Basran writes with insight and humor, balancing the tragic bitterness of Meena’s struggle with an easy style that pulls the reader along. Agent: John Pearce, Westwood Creative Artists, Canada. (Jan.)
Seventeen-year-old Meena is the youngest of six daughters raised in a traditional Punjabi family. Her father died years ago, and her mother has shouldered the burden of supporting the family, imparting strong traditional values, and searching out appropriate arranged marriages for each daughter. Meena struggles with the boundaries imposed on her as a young adult and longs for the freedom of a typical teenager. As readers follow Meena through adulthood, she must decide whether to accept an arranged marriage in order to honor her family’s wishes or choose to believe in love and cause a potentially irreparable rift.
Verdict It isn’t surprising that this debut novel by an Indian Canadian writer won the 2011 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Basran displays her talent for beautifully constructed sentences and well-developed characters, and her story convincingly portrays the intricacies of following your heart, as well as the effect those choices have on the people around you. The characters will grab the reader emotionally as the novel takes unexpected turns. Meena will not easily be forgotten. Highly recommended for reading groups and readers who enjoy literary novels about the immigrant experience.Madeline Solien, Deerfield P.L., IL(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
What People are saying about this
From the Publisher
“ [This] complex drama of knowing someone by heart is universal...Fans of Jhumpa Lahiri will want to read this first novel."
"A sad story, ending in a misery born from that clash of cultures, but the writing is vivid, full of crackling dialogue, and the plot is completely absorbing...Basran's book reminds me of the work of the Pulitzer-prize winning novelist, Bengali American writer Jhumpa Lahiri, who also draws the outsider into the world of Indian immigrants to North America, vividly expressing their difficult adaptation... She is clearly on the same path as Lahiri, a writer on the first step to greatness."
"Thought-provoking and compelling... Timely and engaging."
Winnipeg Free Press
The Vancouver Sun
"A tender novel about identity and the search for belonging that is both humorous and heartbreaking. In Meena, Basran has created a feisty, complicated and irrepressible heroine."
Thrity Umrigar, author of the bestselling The Space Between Us and The World We Found
"A fascinating story, skilfully written, of a rebellious young woman's remarkable courage."
Jack Hodgins, author of The Master of Happy Endings and Broken Ground
"Basran's writing is by turns elegant and poetic."
Quill & Quire