Swimming in the Monsoon Sea

Swimming in the Monsoon Sea

4.6 3
by Shyam Selvadurai
     
 

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Nominated for the Governor General's Literary Awards 2005, (Children's Literature, Text)


The setting is Sri Lanka, 1980, and it is the season of monsoons. Fourteen-year-old Amrith is caught up in the life of the cheerful, well-to-do household in which he is being raised by his vibrant Auntie Bundle and kindly Uncle Lucky. He tries not to think of hisSee more details below

Overview

Nominated for the Governor General's Literary Awards 2005, (Children's Literature, Text)


The setting is Sri Lanka, 1980, and it is the season of monsoons. Fourteen-year-old Amrith is caught up in the life of the cheerful, well-to-do household in which he is being raised by his vibrant Auntie Bundle and kindly Uncle Lucky. He tries not to think of his life “before,” when his doting mother was still alive. Amrith’s holiday plans seem unpromising: he wants to appear in his school’s production of Othello and he is learning to type at Uncle Lucky’s tropical fish business. Then, like an unexpected monsoon, his cousin arrives from Canada and Amrith’s ordered life is storm-tossed. He finds himself falling in love with the Canadian boy. Othello, with its powerful theme of disastrous jealousy, is the backdrop to the drama in which Amrith finds himself immersed.

Shyam Selvadurai’s brilliant novels, Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens, have garnered him international acclaim. In this, his first young adult novel, he explores first love with clarity, humor,
and compassion.

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Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Ward
Swimming in the Monsoon Sea…is being marketed as a young adult novel, which it is, insofar as its hero is a 14-year-old boy. Yet it is also that rare thing, a coming-of-age story that transcends labels and deserves to be called literature, plain and simple.
—The Washington Post
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Fictional yet deeply informed by the author's memories of growing up in Sri Lanka, this is a beautifully crafted story of a young boy's coming of age in a complex society and a breathtakingly beautiful place. Amrith, fourteen, whose parents died in a car accident, is spending his school holidays with his well-to-do Uncle Lucky and Aunty Bundle. Amrith resents them both and represses memories of Ammi's death and before that of her apparent abandonment of him. The arrival of a cousin, Niresh, from Canada changes the imperfect yet delicate balance of his life. As Amrith enters into a kind of giddy, admiring friendship, then a crush, and finally an awareness of his own awakening sexuality, Selvadurai retains pitch-perfect voice and a close understanding of the painful longings and sensitivities of adolescence. Minor characters resonate; splendidly-spunky cousin Selvi is a delight. Even as we know that we are privy to the end of Amrith's childhood, we leave him in a moment of reflection and hope. The monsoon sea of this story is wildly savage—"...had eaten up the beach." The setting, an odd mix of densely detailed place and clashing eras of popular culture, rings resoundingly true in all its contradictions. This is a calmer Sri Lanka than the one we know today, before the riots of the 80s set off massive Tamil migrations to Europe and North America. Selvadurai's writing sets a new bar for YA fiction, not just about this region of the world, but from and about anywhere.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-In Sri Lanka in 1980, 14-year-old Amrith is forced to confront his feelings about his birth family when Niresh, a cousin from Canada, visits. He falls in love with the boy, jealously refusing to share him with his adoptive sisters, in spite of their obvious interest. Amrith is a gentle, innocent boy from an anglicized and privileged world of private school, country club, and numerous servants, so readers will be surprised at the intensity evoked by his first sexual feelings. Mirroring the rage of Othello, the play his school is producing, he almost causes a tragedy before coming to terms with his anger at his family and his own sense of difference. The arc of this sensitive coming-of-age story moves slowly but inexorably to its breaking point, lingering over details of Sri Lankan life. Thunderous monsoon storms set the mood and detailed descriptions of the landscape, architecture, and food provide the backdrop. The author's affection for the country of his childhood is evident in this sympathetic and insightful look at first love.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Fourteen-year-old Amrith De Alwis is still dealing with the deaths of his parents eight years ago. He does so by not dwelling on their passing and is embarrassed by the annual remembrance enforced by Aunty Bundle, his mother's best friend, who along with Uncle Lucky is raising Amrith as part of their wealthy, happy family in 1980 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. His quiet summer of typing lessons and practice for a school drama competition is disturbed by the arrival of his actual uncle and 16-year-old cousin Niresh from Canada. Amrith develops a crush on Niresh and is jealous when the boy pays more attention to Aunty Bundle's daughters. Stories of the mistakes of past generations help Amrith deal with his newfound cousin, his lingering grief and his awakening sexuality. Award-winner Selvadurai writes with great success to his youngest audience yet. His evocation of place and the depth he brings to his characters and their relationships make this a surprisingly gripping read. A tasteful, wonderful exploration of a seldom-explored culture that will be at home in any YA collection. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
"As lush and languid as its Sri Lanka setting...What captures readers is the way the story rolls in waves, mimicking how Amrith looks at himself, then looks away. The luxuriant language with details of architecture and verdant gardens doesn't call attention to itself, but refreshes like a breeze. Selvadurai, who wrote so gracefully for adults...now does the same for teens."
Booklist, Starred Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781551997209
Publisher:
Tundra
Publication date:
12/04/2012
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
310,436
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
14 Years

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