Beautifully balanced and thought-provoking,
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This review is from: Sex is Forbidden (Kindle Edition)
It may be that this novel is harder going for those who have no experience of or interest in meditation or Buddhism - I hope not, because what is so impressive about the writer's balance is the way he combines a specialist area of interest with a more frequently-encountered sort of human story. The central character is fascinating, the present and her past beautifully interwoven, and since she is a very earthy young woman, firmly anchored in the physical world around her.
Parks works through the sort of reservations any of us might have confronted with an absolutist sort of meditation regime - if it works, will it destroy my personality, all this acceptance, calmness? Is it worth it? Why on earth would I do it? And he does this not by writing directly about such questions, but by embodying them in Beth's consciousness and allowing us to decide for ourselves. He creates the ambiguities of the leaders at the centre beautifully.
People have felt the start is a bit slow - it is, but probably needs to be, he needs to create the Vipassana world in your mind as he begins to work Beth through it. But it picks up speed in a suprising way, almost a page-turner, which is quite an achievement for a novel about meditation! And I guess that's because Beth, as a character, is such a winner for him.
She is trying to heal herself, as Parks was in "Teach Us To Sit Still," albeit healing a very different kind of wound from Beth's.
It's quite an acheivement to describe the benefits of such a regime as Beth goes through at the Vipassana Centre, and show us the bits of it that would probably drive you and I mad! That's what I mean about "beautifully-balanced."