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Oleander Girl    by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni order for
Oleander Girl
by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Oleanders are beautiful but also tough - they know how to protect themselves from predators. The word for oleander in Bengali is Korobi, the name of our heroine.

She is a much-loved young woman who has a mysterious past. Her mother went to the United States to study, came home pregnant, and died while birthing Korobi. Not only that; a few months later her father died in a car accident. What really bothers Korobi is that neither her grandfather nor her grandmother ever speak about her mother.

Now Korobi is getting married, and we learn much about Indian customs, about tradition versus modernity, about the high-profile rich who barely even see the generous poor who work for them, and about the clashes between Hindu and Muslim. The sudden death of Korobi's grandfather brings many changes, allowing Korobi the chance to go to America to learn more about her heritage. As her adventures there unfold, her fiancÚ's family in India must face its own set of problems.

Author Divakaruni not only shows pretty good control over the various threads of her plot, she depicts all her characters, even the questionable ones, with great sympathy. Oleander Girl is an appealing story you will not want to put down.

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