Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Island of a Thousand Mirrors - Book Review

Yasodara, her younger sister Lanka and the neighbor boy Shiva have an idyllic childhood in the beauty of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the bliss and innocence of childhood is cut short by the violence of the civil war as the Tamil rebels fight against the Sinhala armies. Yasodara's family flees the horrific atrocities by emigrating to America.

Even as they work to assimilate and become at one with their new home, Yasodara and Lanka cannot fight the lure of their homeland and their memories. Adults now, the civil war in Sri Lanka continues to rage--bloody and vicious. Lanka decides to return to teach art to the children left crippled by exploding landmines and begs Yasodara to follow her. They discover that Shiva too has returned to the island. Though Shiva is Tamil and they are Sinhala, their childhood friendship binds them together.

Based on a recommendation from a trusted friend (Julie from Girls Just Reading), I was anxious to read Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera. I love learning about other parts of the world and gaining some understanding of the historical events and political histories of these lands. Mostly, I love people and gaining a greater insight into different cultures and traditions. Since in my current state of life I'm not able to travel, I regularly turn to books to inspire, teach and open my mind. I, of course, especially love when novels are able to do this and tell a fascinating story.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera completely shattered me. Munaweera's prose is so elegantly beautiful and deeply emotional--describing a world so lovely, picturesque and delicious then detailing brutal violence and the horrifying acts of people against one another. In my sheltered world, I knew not of this tragedy before reading Munaweera's thoughtful masterpiece and am grateful for her work opening my eyes. My heart aches for those mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who lost loved ones in the fighting that continued to ravage the land and the people for twenty five years.

Munaweera's novel is part of a great work of contemporary literature including Ratner's In the Shadow of the Banyan, De Robertis's Perla and Mara's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena that tell the heart wrenching stories of war, hatred for another people, and tragedy, while simultaneously telling stories of hope and redemption. Perhaps these novels speak to me so much because they are the stories of our world's recent history--many of these atrocities occurring within my own lifetime. These novels and others weave a tapestry that tells the world's history of war and yet inspire peace and love.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera is published by St. Martin's Press and released in September 2014. 

**I received a complimentary copy of Island of a Thousand Mirrors. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

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