Sunday, November 15, 2015

Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

4.5 Star

Island of a Thousand Mirrors follows the fate of two families, one Tamil, one Sinhala as they straddle opposite sides of the long and brutal Sri Lankan civil war. Narrated by the eldest daughter of each family, the story explores how each woman negotiates war, migration, love, exile, and belonging. At its root, it s a story of a fragmented nation struggling to find its way to a new beginning.

Michelle - 4.5 Star

Island of a thousand mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera was a compelling and heart wrenching novel.   The content was heavy and serious so if you are looking for a feel good book with a happy ending, this novel is not for you.  I knew after only a few chapters that Island of a Thousand Mirrors was going to be a hard read, but it was at the same time gripping and educational.  It deals with the Sri Lankin civil war that took place between the Tamils and Sinhalas, a topic I admit, I knew very little about.  The novel focuses on two families, one Tamil and one Sinhala.  Narrated  by  the eldest daughters of each family, the novel takes us on a journey that no one wants to go on.  Nayomi Munaweeras writing is so descriptive and real it compels you to read more, even when you are not sure you want to know what happens next.  The novel takes you on a journey back in time to a country simmering with unrest and introduces us to these two families on opposite sides of the conflict, yet whose lives are so intertwined one can only imagine how things will change once the conflict becomes a full out civil war.  I felt the author did a good job of portraying both families in a similar light, making me feel empathetic towards both families equally.   I was not rooting for one family to prevail over the next.  I found myself holding on to some naive hope that perhaps these two families would be able to overcome the hatred and prejudice placed upon them simply because of their beliefs or backgrounds, while at the same time knowing that would never happen.  

As hard as this novel was to read, I think it was important.  It was heartbreaking and emotional, while at the same time educational.   It didn’t just tell a story, it taught me about a very dark period in time and I definitely finished the novel much more informed and aware then when I began.   

It tugged on my heartstrings and opened my eyes to something I had little knowledge of, while at the same time telling a beautiful story so descriptive about such interesting people, I could not put it down.    

Thank you to St.Martin's Press for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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