Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal

February 21st, 2011 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Picked up at NCIBA

Publication date: August 1, 2010

Publisher: Kensington Publishing

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars

Description from Goodreads.com:

What happens when a woman who’s realized her dreams wakes up to a shocking truth? Shobhan Bantwal’s poignant new novel weaves a captivating tale of one woman’s return to India: the place where she lost everything—and now has everything to gain…

It is a morning like any other in suburban New Jersey when Vinita Patil opens the battered envelope postmarked “Mumbai.” But the letter inside turns her comfortable world upside down. It tells Vinita an impossible story: she has a grown son in India whose life may depend on her…

Once upon a time, a naïve young college girl fell for a wealthy boy whose primary interests were cricket and womanizing. Vinita knew, even then, that a secret affair with a man whose language and values were different from her own was a mistake. He finished with her soon enough—leaving her to birth a baby that was stillborn. Or so Vinita was told. . .

Now, that child is a grown man in desperate need. To help her son, to know him, Vinita must revisit her darkest hours by returning to her battle-scarred homeland—and pray for the faith of the family she leaves behind. . .

I first saw this book on S. Krishna’s Books and the cover immediately caught my eye. I’ve been making an effort to read outside of my comfort zone and this sounded like a great book to start off with.  It was a wonderful read and gave an interesting glimpse into a culture that was pretty foreign to me.  The story premise was immediately intriguing as a mother myself I cannot imagine going through 30 years of your life not knowing that you had a son and then to find out he is dying.  It was shocking to see the types of cultural views and taboos that lead up to this situation and it made me wonder how true this is in today’s world in India.  In this story it was shocking that preserving the family’s reputation was seen as much more important than the happiness of Vinita or even the well being of her child.   Then we see how because her family pretended she had a form of cancer and was sent away for treatment instead of admitting she was pregnant she was still viewed as not marriageable and only introduced to men who had some sort of problem like being an alcoholic or a divorcee.   All of this makes me want to learn more about the Indian culture to see how true to form the details in this story are.

Vinita was an interesting character because at times you heart breaks for her and other times she irritates the heck out of you and you want to shake some sense into her.   She comes across as so real to me because she isn’t perfect and makes dumb mistakes out of stubborness that a lot of us would make in her shoes.  Things don’t always work out in the end like in a fairy tale and she has to learn to live with the consequences of her actions.

Her brother, Vishal, is another interesting character because he can come across as a real bastard but really he does what he believes is right for his family even if that means concealing the existence of Vinita’s son from her for all these years.  You want to dislike him for what he does but you can’t because it is obvious how much he loves Vinita and respects his parents.

I did not want to put this one down and my co-workers laughed at me as I frantically tried to finish the last 8 pages before we had to start a training class because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened.  This is a wonderful book if you are looking for a glimpse into Indian culture.

Posted in 4 Star Books, Books

6 Responses

  1. ibeeeg

    This does, indeed, sound like a good book. I too need to read a bit out of comfort zone; this sounds like a good one for that. Thanks for putting it on my radar.

  2. dsuzuki

    Yes, I am glad I sneaked out of my comfort zone for this one :)

  3. Kailana

    This book looks interesting. I will have to keep it in mind!

  4. Helen Murdoch

    This one sounds so good and now I’ve got my two recommendations for it. I’ve added it to my list of books to get!

  5. dsuzuki

    Hope you enjoy it!

  6. Mystica

    This sounds good. Another book for my TBR

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