pinkgalagirl (pinkgalagirl) wrote in bookish,

Tania Jame's Atlas of Unknowns

Here is my review of Atlas of Unknowns, by Tania James: 

    Atlas of Unknowns is a great story.  Told from multiple characters’ views, it is actually several stories all wound up into one.  For Anju, it is a coming of age/discovery story, where she learns the consequences of lying, and the true love of family.  For Linno, it is a story about learning how to forgive- most obviously is learning how to forgive Anju, but even more importantly, it is learning how to forgive herself.  And, as support for these stories, the reader gradually comes to understand the history behind the Vallara family through the eyes of Bird, Melvin, and Ammachi.
     Clearly, there was much research into the immigration process and both countries involved- the reality of the setting helped to make the characters and their situations believable.  I learned much about India, and I definitely gained new perspective on what it would be like to come to the U.S. as a stranger, instead of as a citizen. 
     Every page of this story was riveting.  At first, the present tense it is written in sounded odd to me, but once I got used to it, I liked it.  In fact, the difference in tenses helped to distinguish between the current story and the flashbacks that so often punctuate this novel.  The characters were very believable- I found my heart going out to these characters, no matter what situation they were in.  Almost everyone can empathize with the feelings these characters go through- Anju’s need to succeed and the way she rationalizes her lies because she believes it will help her family; Linno’s sense of betrayal, also her drive to succeed in her artwork; The Vallaras’ (and even the Solankis’) sense of desperation to find Anju when she is missing… I walked away from this book feeling like a friend to Anju and Linno as I can see a bit of my personality in both of them. 
    One of the best things about the ending is not that everything turns out perfectly, or that everyone gets what they deserve.  On the contrary, the ending is so great because in a way the characters DON’T get what they deserve!  The ending is beautiful in its simplicity, with a final note of forgiveness, and hope.  I definitely recommend this book.


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