Author: Gurjinder Basran
Published: December 2012
Publisher: Pintail Books
Source: a complimentary copy was provided in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
THE YOUNGEST OF SIX daughters raised by a widowed mother, Meena is a young woman struggling to find her place in the world. Originally from India, her family still holds on to many old-world customs and traditions that seem stifling to a young North American woman. She knows that the freedom experienced by others is beyond her reach. But unlike her older sisters, Meena refuses to accept a life dictated by tradition. Against her mother’s wishes, she falls for a young man named Liam who asks her to run away with him. Meena must then make a painful choice—one that will lead to stunning and irrevocable consequences.
Heartbreaking and beautiful, Everything Was Good-bye is an unforgettable story about family, love, and loss, and the struggle to live in two different cultural worlds. (from the cover)
Almost two years ago I read and fell in love with the story Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (see my post here) and now I have just completed another story of significant depth, love and sorrow that it belongs in that same cabinet in my mind...the cabinet reserved for books that impact me.
Meena's story is one of cultural diversity, of societal pressure, of understanding and the lack thereof, and of a young girl's desire to find herself. Her heritage and upbringing dictate an arranged marriage, and though her heart belongs to another, a fact that she is not yet certain of, she abides and enters into the marital covenant with hope and yet with longing to be somewhere else. Years pass and marriage has become a comfortable arena until Meena again meets the young man who stole her heart years before.
Faced with decisions, a questionable future, an undeniable yearning; Meena must make a choice. A choice that will impact the lives of so many for good or for worse.
Everything Was Good-bye, the title, forecasts the story within and yet the reader hopes for Meena to find happiness, to find herself, and find the beginning of a happy ending. I became so wrapped up in the telling of the story and the beautiful prose that painted pictures in my mind of scenes, of scents, and feelings. Gurjinder Basran has a gift for words, for the language of the heart. I felt the emotions, envisioned the setting, endured the brutal moments, only to cry in heartbreaking sobs with the protagonist and to breathe a breath of hope for her.
Everything Was Good-bye is an ideal book club selection, sure to inspire hours of conversation.
"The smell of chai -- fennel, cloves and cinnamon -- tucked me into my blanket like a seed in a cardamom pod. I steeped myself into the warmth of waking, listening to the sounds of Sunday morning." (page 2, opening lines)
"I imagined climbing over the railing and jumping into the water, sinking into the shadowy depths; kelp forests entangling my body, pirate ghosts capturing me for an eternity until I was reborn and transformed into a water nymph with threaded wings of seaweed tasselled with golden coins. I would be neither blue nor green, neither fish nor girl, but something magical and intensely beautiful." (page 35)
"After dinner we stood outside the restaurant beneath the ripped awning, watching the rain fall in all directions, the wind pushing it this way and that. Liam flipped up the collar of his coat and inhaled to my exhale, our breath taking from each other." (page 175)
"The first snowfall held the city in its breath, casting a tinsel chill across the sky, a silvery glaze on windows and a rosy glow on children's cheeks. The streets were lined with wreaths, the street corners dressed in charitable causes and the shop windows adorned with nostalgic scenes of foil-wrapped Christmas gifts beneath perfectly trimmed trees. As I walked down Robson Street, past all the windows filled with packaged hopes, I knew that mine would go unopened...."(page 225)
Gurjinder Basran's "Everything Was Good-bye" was earlier published by Mother Tongue Publishing in 2010 and is being released by Pintail Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing as a trade paperback in the latter part of 2012.
Thanks to Pintail Books, I have a copy of this astounding book to give away to one lucky reader. Open to US and Canada, I will make a drawing from those who comment on this post. That's the only requirement, is a comment stating why you'd like to read Everything Was Good-bye. Contest opens today, December 31 2012 and ends January 19, 2013. Good luck and thank you to all who enter!
Happy New Year!