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Swimming in the Monsoon Sea [Kindle Edition]

Shyam Selvadurai
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $12.95
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $4.96 (38%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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On an unexpected trip home, Mim Malone learns to confront her own demons along the way. Learn more

Book Description

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,
and compassion.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up–In Sri Lanka in 1980, 14-year-old Amrith is forced to confront his feelings about his birth family when Niresh, a cousin from Canada, visits. He falls in love with the boy, jealously refusing to share him with his adoptive sisters, in spite of their obvious interest. Amrith is a gentle, innocent boy from an anglicized and privileged world of private school, country club, and numerous servants, so readers will be surprised at the intensity evoked by his first sexual feelings. Mirroring the rage of Othello, the play his school is producing, he almost causes a tragedy before coming to terms with his anger at his family and his own sense of difference. The arc of this sensitive coming-of-age story moves slowly but inexorably to its breaking point, lingering over details of Sri Lankan life. Thunderous monsoon storms set the mood and detailed descriptions of the landscape, architecture, and food provide the backdrop. The author's affection for the country of his childhood is evident in this sympathetic and insightful look at first love.–Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 8-11. As lush and languid as its Sri Lanka setting, this novel tells the story of 13-year-old Amrith, whose complicated life becomes even more so with the appearance of his Canadian cousin, Niresh. Amrith lives with his adoring godmother and her supportive family in 1980 Colombo. But although he lives in luxury, he is poverty-stricken when it comes to knowing his own family. There is mystery surrounding the death of his beloved mother and alcoholic father, and because of the circumstances of his parents' marriage, his extended family shuns him. So when Niresh turns up with his father, who has come to sell off family property, Amrith is anxious to make a connection. Eventually, he realizes his feelings for Niresh go beyond friendship, which finally makes him aware of his sexual identity. This is much closer stylistically to European novels such as Per Nilsson's You & You & You and Andreas Steinhofel's Center of the Universe (both 2005) than to our own plot-driven YA novels, with situations arising organically from the characters. What captures readers is the way the story rolls in waves, mimicking how Amrith looks at himself, then looks away. The luxuriant language, with details of architecture and verdant gardens, doesn't call attention to itself, but refreshes like a breeze. Selvadurai, who wrote so gracefully for adults in Cinnamon Gardens (1998), now does the same for teens. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 2537 KB
  • Print Length: 282 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0887767354
  • Publisher: Tundra Books; Reprint edition (December 4, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A9ET6G6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,460 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely breeze April 21, 2007
This is one of the easiest books I have read in a really long time. I literally breezed through it, and found it charming. But what is truly surprising is not that the book is so easy, but the fact that it manages to be so even while painting pictures of lands which draw you into them, while detailing characters to an extent that you can really empathize with them, and while conveying a variety and depth of emotions that is highly commendable. That's a formidable task for any writer, but Shyam Selvadurai continues to impress with his literary capabilities even today just the way he had done with his excellent first novel "Funny Boy".

The book is set in Colombo, during a hot and humid lazy summer vacation in the life of 14-year old Amrith. The vacation begins uneventfully and promises to have no bigger highlight than practicing for a school drama till Amrith is suddenly confronted by his past, and much to his complete surprise, is very soon overjoyed and completed absorbed by it. As the days go by, however, Amrith's emotions go through a roller-coaster ride as he learns more about his family and friends, but above all, about himself. The vacation period turns out to the coming-of-age one for Amrith, and he finally comes to terms with his new discoveries and learning.

There is no dearth of coming-of-age books, and many might be better, or at the very least, more poignant, but that should any deter you from reading another book on this widely dealt with subject, for the combination of the locale, the protagonist's situation, and Mr. Selvadurai's writing make this a book worthy of it's own place on the bookshelves of bibliophiles.

Finally, I'd like to make particular point about this book: I really don't think of it as a "young adults" book at all - it is a book for everybody. It is a lovely piece of writing, and will surely leave a positive mark on your literary journey, irrespective of who you are.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For adults too July 5, 2006
The story, set against the backdrop of Colombo during the monsoon season, is about Amrith, a fourteen year old orphan who lives with his mother's best friend, her husband and two daughters. Amrith is very much a part of their lives, as he is more of a son and a brother to them than a stranger.

However, Amrith still feels alienated and different. He explores these feelings against a rising darkness within him and memories of his mother and his past. He attempts to forget and focus on his acting skills at drama society in school, and typing at his adopted father, Uncle Lucky's office, but as fate would have it, his past lands on his doorstep in the guise of a cousin from Canada.

Amrith finds a new found happiness in Niresh, his maternal cousin, and intrigue in a life so different from his. Somehow along the way, his relationship with Niresh is threatened, and Amrith begins to blame his adopted family. In the midst of the rising past, he deals with his own turmoils of sexual awakening and identity.

The story is intended for young adults, but like Harry Potter, even adults will find pleasure reading it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Writing--Great Story May 12, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Absolutely wonderful writing--decriptions that are so vivid that you can taste the foods and smell the spices of the tropics. Set in Sri Lanka in 1980, it is the story of 14 year old Amrith, an orphan being raised by his Aunt Bundle and Uncle Lucky. (Yep, those are really their names) His life is forever changed when his cousin, Niresh, arrives from Canada. The story in intertwined with Shakespeare's play Othello, as Amrith copes with his jealousy as he falls in love with his cousin.

Although Amrith's sexuality is part of the story, there is nothing inappropriate as a Young Adult novel.

Highly recommended
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