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Oleander Girl Paperback – 1 May 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: ATRIA BOOKS; Reprint edition (1 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451695683
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451695687
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 850,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Oleander Girl" is a riveting and powerful exploration of family secrets, betrayal, love, and ultimately, the search for self. Divakaruni paints colorful characters on a rich tapestry of modern India, all still haunted by the past. --Shilpi Somaya Gowda "New York Times bestselling author of Secret Daughter ""

About the Author

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the award-winning author of many books, including The Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, and One Amazing Thing. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This manages to be a real page-turner and raises deeper issues too about modern India and its past. Thoroughly enjoyable .
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By Bharti Keshur on 2 Mar. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written, captivating book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 167 reviews
38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Oleander Girl is a beautifully lyrical novel about self-discovery and the need for love 19 Mar. 2013
By Michael Birman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Oleander is a small tree that produces beautiful flowers whose sweet fragrance can be intoxicating. When in bloom, there are few plants as enticing: fragrance and beauty combine to make the Oleander flower as lovely as it is desirable. And as every child learns, wherever the Oleander is indigenous: every part of this living symbol of beauty and longing contains deadly poison, so that the tree and its flowers must remain forever out of reach. What we most desire often hides the seeds of a darker destiny.

Seventeen-year old Korobi Roy (named after a variety of Oleander), though orphaned at birth, has always known the love of her grandparents. She comes from an old and distinguished Kolkata, India family. Her surroundings are redolent of tradition and the stability of time. Yet Korobi feels incomplete, and when she discovers a note from her mother to her dead father, it awakens a yearning for love that is overwhelming. A relationship with Rajat, a young man from a business family, is not enough to ease the emotional turmoil that results when Korobi learns that everything she'd been told about her personal history may be false. The shock of unearthing the secrets of her past and the nature of her grandparents' betrayal, induces Korobi to undertake a dangerous journey of discovery across the embittered America emerging from the aftermath of 9/11. In the process, she is nearly overwhelmed by several shocking surprises.

Oleander Girl is a beautifully lyrical novel, even in its darker moments. The young heroine confronts the stark choices imposed by the dictates of tradition with maturity and surprising wisdom. Even the emotional violence perpetrated by intolerance and suspicion are handled with remarkable strength. Korobi must cope with many of the painful realities imposed by adulthood at an age when most American young people are worried about grades and what to wear to the prom. It reminds us that humanity inhabits many worlds and that they contain an unfair division of challenges.

Chitra Divakaruni has always been a writer for whom the spiritual realm is the very essence of the human experience. Although that realm is less obvious in Oleander Girl, one gets the impression that Korobi is the embodiment of the human soul on its long and painful journey to enlightenment. That journey requires many lessons. The struggle for identity and the comforts of love must overcome the weight of the past and its handmaiden, tradition. The difficulties we face when we discover that those we love are capable of betrayal make us question the source of love: is it based on illusion? On lies? The human need for illusion in order to live comfortably is an important theme in Divakaruni's writing. It has never been explored more beautifully and with greater resonance than it is in Oleander Girl. Here, in lyrical prose that the author wields like a gentle scalpel, we are offered an unflinching look at the emotional ties that connect us, and the deep-rooted fears that separate us. And we are introduced to the bravery of a young woman for whom the past is the difficult, mysterious key to love and to the discovery of whom she is ultimately meant to become.

Mike Birman
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
"Why would she name me after something so dangerous?" 19 Mar. 2013
By Amelia Gremelspacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Korobi has never known her mother who named her after the beautiful but poisonous oleander. She often wonders what this mix of the enticing and the deadly had prompted her mother to name her. After all, many people avoid this plant for fear of a child chewing on it causing great tragedy. Raised by traditional grandparents, she is engaged to a man from a modern, progressive family. Even within the warmth of her love, Korobi is insecure. Early in the novel, a secret is revealed, propelling her to travel to America to find answers. I don't want to spoil the plot.

Divakaruni handles great emotion with understated, calm language. At first, the juxtaposition put me off, but I came to find this style enhancing of the cultural story. Certainly times of deep crisis are portrayed; crises deepened by the family's deep sense of tradition. The main characters are well portrayed in phrases that allow us access to their private and public selves. A deep sense of privacy on the part of Korubi's grandparents inform an important part of the plot. However I admit that my favorite character is Pia, Rajat's younger sister and future sister in law to Korobi. She spirited and naive in the way that the loving can be. Her more relaxed view of the world allows her to celebrate the union with great joy.

The culture of India that has shaped these characters, has become in itself a character in this book. I quite enjoyed the levels of society revealed in this novel. The same world surrounds us all, but ways of our minds decide how the world is admitted to ourselves. This book is a wonderful route to understanding one way of being a person. And we come to know why Korobi is named for the beautiful but deadly oleander.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A must read! 14 May 2013
By Upstategirl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great story with an original plot, something not always seen these days. I loved the various points of view of each character and the cultural background that I had not known before. This is my first book review and may not be getting my point across well, but I liked it so that I wanted to encourage others not to miss this one. Looking forward to trying the author's other books as well.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 23 Mar. 2013
By Jennifer Hartling - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I love stories about India. I love coming of age stories. I love rich and luscious tales that take you somewhere you wouldn't otherwise go. This book contained all of that and more.

Korobi's life is seemingly headed in a happy, though predictable, direction. A family secret comes to light that throws her onto a different path. Her desire to learn more about her parents sends her on a journey of self-discovery that compelled me to keep reading.

The subplots and minor characters in Oleander Girl were captivating. There is Rajat's mother who is desperately trying to hang on to a way of life that might be finished. Korobi's grandmother is ashamed of her role in keeping secrets from Korobi. Asif, a driver, finds himself in a position to help and/or harm the relationships around him. Sonia, a girl from Rajat's past is as dangerous as she is beautiful.

I highly recommend this book. Highly.

Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
You won't be able to put it down! 25 July 2013
By R Modha - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Great chefs always know exactly how to manipulate spice to get just the right favor and create magic in their dishes. Similarly, good writers know exactly where to add spice in their novels to enhance the reader's senses to the maximum. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is one such writer. Her previous works like Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Hearth, One Amazing Thing, and Palace of Illusions, among many others, showcased and established just how talented a writer she is. Now, she takes to the world of romantic thrillers with "Oleander Girl."

The book is a coming of age novel that centers on a 18-year old girl named Korobi (named after a species of Oleander) Roy. Raised by her grandparents, she seeks to discover what happened to her parents and to unearth the mystery that shrouds her father's death. All she knows about them is what her grandparents have told her - i.e. that her mother died giving birth to her and that her father died even before her birth! However, Korobi is aware that there is something they seem to be hiding. Korobi's story has her tackling these complicated issues, in addition to other twists and turns that will keep the reader engaged. Korobi's quest for love is very intriguing as is her relationship with Rajat, who is her fiancé. Korobi wants a true and pure love, the desire for which is partially fueled by her having read her mother's love letter to her father. As such, Korobi daydreams about finding such an eternal love herself.

Soon after her engagement, however, tragedy strikes again with the passing of Korobi's grandfather. This moment changes her life completely, but eventually takes her exactly where she needs to be. She is thrust into a world of secrets that must be exposed. Korobi learns that she is the master of her own destiny and must face hardship straight on. Her journey takes her to America in the post 9-11 world to uncover her past. Besides allowing for the young girl's coming of age, the journey also exposes the reason why her mother named her after the oleander flower. Of course, Korobi's journey is not all smooth and is filled with danger, love, lies, betrayal, and ultimately redemption.

In addition to the compelling content of her books, one of the intriguing things about Divakaruni's writing is the name she picks for her novels. Here the name "Oleander Girl" adds to the mystery of the novel. An Oleander is a small tree/shrub, which produces beautiful and sweet smelling flowers. It may seem benign, based on this simple description, but in reality it is one of the most poisonous garden plants. The tree included in the title a perfect fit for the novel which slow reveals that appearances are truly deceiving. The title therefore, suggests that hidden behind beauty and perfection, is often a darker side slow to reveal itself to the naked eye!

"Oleander Girl" will keep you captivated from the very first chapter. As you turn the pages and delve further into the story, you will feel like you are a part of it. The narrative speaks to issues that are deeper than the ink the book is printed with. The characters are all well-defined and believable. They are not simply over-exaggerated caricatures, but instead are have all shades of humanity - good, bad, and ugly! Don't think that since the characters provide such a sense of realism to the novel, that you will know exactly how the plot lines resolve themselves! Rather, get ready for a true ride, as the tale is unpredictable, and the twists and turns to the story will make you want to read it in one sitting (which is exactly how I read it!)

Beautifully written and truly captivating, Divakaruni masterfully and lyrically pens this novel! Some books may need a screen adaptation to make them compelling, but Oleander Girl is a journey in and of itself, with the right amount of thrill, fantasy, and realism! As an author, Divakaruni is in a league of her own and any comparisons to other writers is not needed to validate how good a writer she is. Simply read her books, and you will come to your own conclusion that she is one of the most talented authors (desi or not!) we have in our modern times. A very intriguing novel from a very capable author!"

From my article as seen on UrbanAsian.com -- [...]
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