Local Book Reviews
Reviewing Midwest Authors
I picked this book up at Content, an independent bookstore, located in downtown Northfield. If you find yourself in Northfield, it is worth the stop. I can't recommend this bookstore enough. They have a wide selection of books, and they highlight local authors. They have a beautiful children's section, too. I was excited to find this book, by Minnesota author, Nigar Alam. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, she is now a teacher at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Since, I lived almost ten years in Afghanistan, I always enjoy reading novels that take place in Central Asia.
This book grabbed my interest because of the focus on Partition that occurred in 1947 which created the nation of Pakistan as we know it today. The boundary lines that were drawn between India and Pakistan were created regardless of ethnicities. This created a large scale loss of life and massive migration when people found themselves on the wrong side of the boundary lines.
Under the Tamarind Tree is a dual timeline book that pivots between 1964 and present day. I happen to love the back and forth of dual timeline books. The 1964 story focuses on four neighborhood friends, who were children when the Partition occurred and all four of their families relocated to Karachi, where they built new lives for themselves. Some of them hiding secrets of their pasts that they left behind in India. In 1964, they are no longer children, but emerging adults and their lives are about to take an unexpected turn.
The modern-day story line is told from the perspective of one of these friends, who is now an elderly woman. Her past comes back to haunt her when the granddaughter of Haaris, a friend that she was almost engaged to that she hasn't seen for over fifty years, ends up on her doorstep. The memories she suppressed from a fateful night that broke up their friendship return when the granddaughter, Zara, begins to ask questions.
The strength of this novel is how the author highlights the turmoil the children of refugees face even years later when their families are forced to upend their lives due to government interference. The development of Karachi, the writing style, and how she slowly builds the tension were also strengths. Personally, I enjoyed the 1960's storyline slightly more than the present day story. I would have preferred a different ending, but I was able to appreciate it was realistic based on what had happened.
Melissa R. Meyers has an obsession with reading and loves to support local authors. This section will contain book reviews of Midwest authors traditionally and independently published.