TITLE: South Haven
AUTHOR: Hirsh Sawhney
PUBLISHER: Akashic Books
PUBLICATION DATE: May 3, 2016
Siddharth Arora lives an ordinary life in the New England suburb of South Haven, but his childhood comes to a grinding halt when his mother dies in a car accident. Siddharth soon gravitates toward a group of adolescent bullies, drinking and smoking instead of drawing and swimming. He takes great pains to care for his depressive father, Mohan Lal, an immigrant who finds solace in the hateful Hindu fundamentalism of his homeland and cheers on Indian fanatics who murder innocent Muslims. When a new woman enters their lives, Siddharth and his father have a chance at a fresh start. They form a new family, hoping to leave their pain behind them.
South Haven is no simple coming-of-age tale or hero’s journey, blurring the line between victim and victimizer and asking readers to contend with the lies we tell ourselves as we grieve and survive. Following in the tradition of narratives by Edwidge Danticat and Junot Díaz, Sawhney draws upon the measured lyricism of postcolonial writers like Michael Ondaatje but brings to his subjects distinctly American irreverence and humor.
(Read more for my review)
South Haven is a sensitive and emotional novel about family, dealing with loss, growing up, peer pressure, individualism, religion, race and everything in between.
The prologue is what really drawn me into the book. As early as the first sentence, I was already struck by Hirsh Sawhney’s lyrical writing.
I love how the characters are all different and their individualities are really shown effectively. The writer had clear intentions on why he made these characters different from one another. The way I see it, Sawhney wants to tell the readers that there is nothing wrong with being different, as long as you do not hurt people (including yourself).
Everything that happened to the main character, Siddharth, are something that not all children his age would experience. I am hoping that all his experiences would make him stronger, instead of making him feel like a failure and a nonsense person. (I am really hoping for a sequel. 😀 )
The setting, South Haven, is also well-built and well-described. It made me wanna visit the place in the future (when I already have the guts and the money 🙂 ). The way it was described in the novel is a realization for me that not everything you see is everything that you get. There are always hidden things…
Speaking of hidden things… There are really a lot of hidden feelings and words and thoughts in this novel. It makes me wanna cry! If only the right things have been said… If only the lies have not been said… Oh, I don’t know. I don’t wanna think about it anymore because it makes me wanna cry, but this novel is one of those books that would give you a book hangover. It is both a blessing and a curse to have a book hangover!
If you are not mature enough, then I suggest you to not read this and hate it later on. But if you think you are mature enough, then I highly suggest this book. It is a book that helps people understand different views on religion and race, and individualism. This book has a lot to offer. This book contains lots of lessons that we cannot learn inside the classroom.
Plus, really good books are mentioned in this novel. Hehe. 🙂
**A review copy was sent to me by the publisher in exchange of an honest review. This, in any way, does not affect my opinion about the book.**
MY RATING: ★★★★★
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