Sunday, October 27
Book Review: Beauty Beneath the Banyan
Author: Crystal Fletcher
Pages: EBook 313
Summary: Three women, three countries, three stories—the destinies of a Thai in prison for murdering her husband, a Cambodian longing for a child, and a Laotian Hmong refugee are threaded together by the tears leftover from the Vietnam War. Each of the women have been marked in some way by the atrocities of Pol Pot’s Cambodia, the Secret War in Laos, and the effects of these wars, as well as the Vietnam War on Thailand, where many displaced people from Laos and Cambodia found refuge, and where American soldiers sought refuge of another kind, ultimately leading to the development of Thailand’s sex tourism industry. The Buddhist concept of reincarnation is used to unite six main characters, three of whom are dead. The dead consist of a Cambodian monk, an American soldier who fought in Vietnam and died in Thailand and an American pilot who flew bombing missions in Laos and died there. These three become dead companions who are watching over three women who are still living with repercussions of war and the lasting imprint this devastation leaves generations later.
My Rating: 10/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a stunning read. One which I could not put down, one that I wanted to read straight through from beginning to end. It's also a book that sticks with you after you've finished with it.
I was completely pulled into the book from the beginning pages, and that never went away. I loved how the author had three different narratives, and three different stories being told at once, and I loved how they came together. Arunny's story was the one I liked the least, her story was still a very strong and emotional one, but I didn't connect to her story on the same level as I did with the others. The Grandmother's story from Laos, was probably by favourite. It was such a strong, powerful and heartbreaking story, it was hard to put the book down when her narrative came up - especially when she talked to her Grandchild - I was stunned by the beauty, emotion and what was revealed there. Isra also had an interesting story, she was a very well created character, and her growth throughout the story was extremely well done - all of the characters were - but hers was the most noticeable. There were a few other aspects of Isra's story I enjoyed - but I don't want to spoil anything, but I was often smiling when things started to come together.
The writing was lovely. I think the author managed to create each individual voice for the different narratives wonderfully. Each one was unique, I always felt like I was in the head of that individual character. The writing was also powerful, raw and beautiful at the same time, as the author shows the readers the harsh realities of the war and day to day life for the characters. It brought everything to surface and pulled me into the book, and helped make it a book next to impossible to put down.
Overall this was an extraordinary book.
Would I recommend it to read: I would highly recommend this book. In fact I'd say this is a must read - a book I love to shove in other people's hands and tell them to read it.
What to read next: Anil's Ghost
Challenges: 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, EBook Challenge