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A Disobedient Girl    by Ru Freeman order for
Disobedient Girl
by Ru Freeman
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

This story of two women - Latha and Biso, who live in Sri Lanka - is a very impressive debut for author Ru Freeman. Ms. Freeman gives us a heartfelt picture of a land both beautiful and sere, and of the everyday lives of people who have very little and are content with that, and people who have much more and still cannot find happiness.

Biso tries to make a better life for herself and her children by escaping from an abusive husband. Her adventures along the way provide us with many insights about the country: among them, how it is to take the trains and how people, whether officials or just ordinary folk, interact with each other. Most of all we learn how much Biso cares for her children. Latha, raised from childhood as a companion to a middle-class family's daughter, constantly finds herself treated as a servant, and her rebellion against this precipitates a tragedy that, as it unfolds, ties the story's strands together.

The author has done a really good job of providing us insights into the religious traditions, social practices and caste issues of Sri Lanka. A small quibble is that not all the words and phrases are translated. This compelling tale will be hard for you to put down.

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