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"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Fine Balance

In short, this is a novel that will break your heart. Doesn't sound very appealing, right? But maybe it isn't meant to be. Often life can be seen as a series of twists and turns - events that were perhaps fated to be and others that drop on you like bolts of lightning.

A Fine Balance tells the tale of four people from varying backgrounds. Maneck is a student from the beautiful mountain region of India; a middle-class boy with a good heart and thin skin. Dina Dalal is in her 40s, living alone in a home made absent by the death of her husband twenty years prior. She is stubbornly independent and down to earth. To save her eyesight from going completely, she hires two tailors who journey from their remote village to work for her. From a lowly caste, this remarkably stalwart uncle and nephew team struggle to leave behind their torturous past to ascend the difficult caste ladder and make a better life for themselves. The four eventually all come to live under Dina's roof, which in turn provides a safe haven from the horrors of India in the 1970's.

The year that follows is one of my deep happiness, despite hard work, money troubles and encroaching governmental practices. Mistry teaches us that the joys of friendship, humor and patience can keep even the most vicious wolves at bay.

But inevitably, the happiness ends. And horror and sorrow encroach. And my heart is quite literally broken thinking of their respective fates.

Beautiful beautiful beautiful but heart-wrenching book.

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