Monday, March 25, 2013

"Oleander Girl"

Chitra Divakaruni is the author of One Amazing Thing and the newly released novel, Oleander Girl, the story of Korobi, a young woman who leaves a riot-torn India to come to post 9/11 America on a search that will change her life and face her with her toughest decision yet. Divakaruni is the winner of several awards, including an American Book Award, and teaches Creative Writing at the University of Houston. Her books have been translated into 29 languages.

Divakaruni applied the Page 69 Test to Oleander Girl and reported the following:
Page 69 of Oleander Girl falls in the middle of chapter 3. Here, our protagonist Korobi, who has been told that she lost both her parents at birth, and who has always longed to know more about them, is finally handed a photo of her mother by her grandmother Sarojini.

"I knew her right away--those serious, straight eyebrows were the ones I saw whenever I looked in the mirror. But she was her own person, too, with her generous, strong-willed, beautiful mouth. She smiled with such vivacity into the camera that I was sure my father had been the photographer. Indeed, when I turned it over, a bold script stated, To lovely Anu. My heart raced. Halfway across the world, before I'd even been imagined, my father had handed this piece of paper to my mother. I ran my fingers across the badk, over where their fingers had rested. It was as close to touching the two of them as I had ever been."

This is a life changing moment for Korobi. It's the moment when she decides that she must put off her wedding to her beloved fiance Rajat, leave the safe Kolkata mansion in which she has always lived, and travel to America to find out who her mother really was. Only then, she believes, will she herself know who she really is.

It is the moment when she steps away from innocence into experience; from certainty into questioning; from girlhood into her uncomfortable adult existence.
Listen to an excerpt from Oleander Girl, and learn more about the book and author at Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's website.

--Marshal Zeringue