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The Unexpected Son Paperback – August 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
A shocking letter from India sends middle-aged Vinita Patil reeling in Bantwal's (The Dowry Bride) absorbing latest. Living in New Jersey, contentedly married for almost 25 years to Girish, a mechanical engineer with whom she has a daughter, Vinita learns that the illegitimate child she believed was stillborn in India, is alive, suffering from myeloid leukemia, and desperately in need of a bone marrow transplant. Vinita's brother, Vishal, who'd orchestrated the deception and arranged for the baby's adoption, fesses up that Vinta's son, Rohit Barve, is a chemistry professor at Shivraj College, the college where Vinita met Rohit's playboy father, Som Kori, who'd refused to marry her. Vinita and Som's coming from different linguistic groups vying for control of the border town of Palagum, made their union impossible. After Vinita finally meets her grown son, she's disturbed to learn that Som and Rohit's adoptive father are still embroiled in the violent territorial conflict, a situation that adds suspense to the story. This inspiring testament to a mother's enduring love makes for a fascinating tale and provides a window into an equally fascinating culture.
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Vinita’s life is upended when an anonymous letter informs her that her son in India has cancer. As a young woman, Vinita became pregnant out of wedlock and was told by her family that the child died at birth. She now lives in the U.S., and her husband and grown daughter are unaware of her past. Vinita is compelled to travel to India to try to help her son, but the man she meets is angry, believing that she willingly abandoned him. Trouble also arises when his adopted father, a political leader, finds out that his son’s biological father is his hated rival. It’s a shame that the novel’s tension is undermined by an all-too-convenient happy ending, because Bantwal, author of The Sari Shop Widow (2009), once again paints a convincing portrait of a woman facing the repercussions of old-fashioned and oppressive social mores. --Aleksandra Walker
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I especially like how real Vinita is. She is not the typical humble, self sacrificial, sensible heroine... for all her smarts she can be irrational, quick to emotion and judgement, one sided in her view of situations, but extremely passionate and determined, confident and unconventional for her upbringing and culture. Refreshing in her imperfections.
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