Book Review: Secrets of Mango Rain

Author: Nirmala Pillai

The author has delicately woven myriad strands of love, hate, longing, retribution, misunderstandings… in the tapestry of this saga. The story spans across two countries and cultures. Made in three parts, the author has carefully developed the character arcs for all the characters and they brilliantly spring to life as the story progresses. It’s simply unputdownable.

The book traverses the journey of young Valsa who is unceremoniously ‘left’ at her maternal home in Kerala, called ‘Raavilath’ at the ,mere age of 8. Her parents who had fled to Mumbai following their interreligious marriage that was considered taboo, had passed in an accident and in moments she had been orphaned. The maternal grandfather hated the little girl and didn’t fail to demonstrate his hatred. He called Valsa a ‘devil’s seed’ set to destroy the ancient clan. The turmoil and uncertainty always loomed over the love Valsa received from all others at Raavilath. Sven, her Swedish-Indian cousin comes into her life when she is a child and he protects her from all agony, shielding her from the harsh realities of life.

However, a naive Valsa messes it up when she is 12 and is sent to the US to join her aunt and her other cousin, a single mother. She makes a life for herself, especially with her friends Glenda and her stepbrother Jason who was Sven’s doppelganger.

When she is 18 she returns to Ravilaath and realises all her misadventures in the past were a result of her insecurities from wanting to belong to Ravilaath and her love for Sven. Sven promised he would wait for her but she had to see the world before that. That turns out to be her breath and motivation to live, her existence now relying on the slender thread of this hope. However, the news that Sven married his ex-girlfriend Erika, shatters her resolve and she tumbles into the abyss of misery.  She spirals out of control as drugs take precedence over logic and soon she attempts to end her life.

Jason reenters her life and brings her out of despair and they confess their love for each other. Valsa, on the path to recovery, begins to feel the closure she desperately sought as well as the sense of belonging to someone. Fate has other plans though and Jason a member of Doctors without Borders goes missing. Valsa decides to bring their child into this world and returns to Raavilath. Life finally comes full circle for Valsa.

The story keeps you hooked as you wonder what direction Valsa’s story will take and the author has arranged the plots and the characters beautifully as they compliment Valsa. The story not only intrigues you but takes you on a beautiful sojourn of God’s own country.


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