Nominated for the Governor General's Literary Awards 2005, (Children's Literature, Text)
The setting is Sri Lanka, 1980, and it is the season of monsoons. Fourteen-year-old Amrith is caught up in the life of the cheerful, well-to-do household in which he is being raised by his vibrant Auntie Bundle and kindly Uncle Lucky. He tries not to think of his life “before,” when his doting mother was still alive. Amrith’s holiday plans seem unpromising: he wants to appear in his school’s production of Othello and he is learning to type at Uncle Lucky’s tropical fish business. Then, like an unexpected monsoon, his cousin arrives from Canada and Amrith’s ordered life is storm-tossed. He finds himself falling in love with the Canadian boy. Othello, with its powerful theme of disastrous jealousy, is the backdrop to the drama in which Amrith finds himself immersed.
Shyam Selvadurai’s brilliant novels, Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens, have garnered him international acclaim. In this, his first young adult novel, he explores first love with clarity, humor,
|Product dimensions:||5.26(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.78(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Shyam Selvadurai was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and came to Canada with his family at the age of nineteen. Funny Boy, his first novel, was published to immediate acclaim in 1994, was a national bestseller, and won the W. H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award. In the U.S., it was the winner of The Lambda Literary Award, and was named a Notable Book by the American Library Association. Cinnamon Gardens, his second novel, was shortlisted for the Trillium Award. It has been published in the U.S., the U.K., India, and numerous countries in Europe. He is the editor of Story-wallah! A Celebration of South Asian Fiction. Shyam Selvadurai lives in Toronto.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It does have to do with being gay, but becides that, finding your self and coming to terms with the discovery. Great read!
Swimming in the Monsoon Sea is another partly heartbreaking story of first loves. Unlike previous young adult stories about gay young men, Selvadurai's novel is different. The story takes place in Sri Lanka, a place where (at least in the 80s, when the novel takes place) homosexuality is not something that's common or even talked about. Amrith, a 14 year old boy, lives with his adoptive parents. His past is complicated and sad, but we don't find out the details until near the end of the novel. And in many ways, this is one of strongest coming of age novels I've read recently. In many of them, the boys have already come to terms with being gay, but Amrith doesn't even understand what's going on in his head. He doesn't even realize how he feels until his long lost cousin from Canada appears in his life. Up until we meet Amrith's cousin, Niresh, the only things he cares about are not thinking about his mother's death and acting. He desperately wants to be in the school production of Othello -- and manages to win the part of Desdemona (a part he covets, after winning an award for his acting as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet). But the Niresh shows up, and Amrith's world is shaken up. The world Selvadurai creates is both believable and emotionally driven. We follow Amrith as he struggles with his friendship with Niresh, slowly falling in love, and his relationships with his family (adoptive parents and sisters). Selvadurai allows us to watch as Amrith is torn apart, through his love of Niresh, mourning of his mother and love of acting and then how he must find a way to put himself back together.As I was reading, I kept waiting for something to happen and then when it did, it was beautiful and heartbreaking. This novel is not like the majority of YA gay fiction I've read, there's no implied sex, no reciprocation of feelings. Instead, it's a story of love and loss, because when your first love with is your straight cousin, there's no way it can work out. But don't let that stop you from reading. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea is so much more than just that storyline. Selvadurai is a brilliant story teller and I can't wait to read more of his books.
The dust jacket makes it seem like this novel is just about a boy falling in love with another boy, but really, Amrith's love for Niresh is only peripheral to the plot. More important is Amrith's reconciling his feelings about his dead parents and the trouble in their families, and his adoptive parents and sisters, who he both loves and hates. All the main characters in the story are fully real, and Amrith's growing maturity is well portrayed.However, this book did have some flaws. It was overly didactic -- obviously written for a Western audience that had no notion of Sri Lankan life, there was a little too much explaining about customs and architecture and the weather. The other, bigger problem (in my mind) is that way too much was told rather than shown, particularly about Amrith's feelings. It was as if the author didn't trust the reader to draw the correct conclusions and had to spoon-feed them everything.I would give this book a B, and might be tempted to pick up more of this author's work in the future. I hope he works out his showing-telling problem.
Amrith, who lives with his adopted family, comes to realize he¿s different as he begins to observe the people around him. He realizes he has strong feelings for his male cousin Niresh who is visiting from Canada.
This really is a good book however when I first got it I thought that it might have a lot to do with the whole gay thing but that is not the case. People looking to read a book based on the gay content should not realy get this book. Selvadurai does a great job at making a book. This isn't just a book about someone struggling with their sexuality. It's a lot more than that and if you think it isn't, maybe you should prove yourself wrong by reading this book.