Book Title: Inheritance
Author: Balli Kaur Jaswal
What is the storyline?
This book, ‘Inheritance‘ – by Balli Kaur Jaswal is a fictional story set in the country of Singapore between the 1970s – 1990s. The story is about a Sikh Punjabi family. In the story, the female child, Amrit, is the reflection of many unsaid feelings from a female’s point of view. Her brother, Narain who goes to America for further studies is another reflection of the gender orientation and awareness that which was not existing much in those days in India or around the world also I can say. Many other characters make up a great part of the story.
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Though the story dates back to decades back, the narration hooks up the readers to the book.
Leading a life in a foreign land comes with many challenges.
Leading a teenage life without proper care comes with problems.
Leading a life with self-pity comes with personality woes.
Leading a life with unheard voices comes with mental health disorders.
Leading a life when one’s own father treats his children as a curse comes with rebellious attitude development.
Each of the above-said statement is the description of the characters in the story.
The story is about the family that immigrated from India to Singapore at a time when the country they moved to was beginning to find itself, change its existence. With the rise of this new multi-cultural country, belonging to the community that always has eyes on you, is challenging. The family faces these all!
When a person and a bunch of the members of the family are under vigilance by a mob of people, it gives unwanted pressure. Though the intention is good, going to the root level and dissecting every thread talks about personal liberty and freedom at stake. These struggles are very well articulated and shown in the book.
Author Balli Kaur hails from the country of Singapore in which the story is set, makes it easy for her readers to understand much about the country and its metamorphosis in her simple and engaging narration. She also stretches her writing in explaining the land rules and the difficulties faced by the people.
There are also dark and raw things embedded in the story. The story also brings forth its readers the country and culture before India’s Independence and also before Singapore became an Independent Country.
This is my first book by the author, and I am delighted to read her work. I look forward to reading more books from her.
What to expect from the story
Expect the unheard woes of a girl who is subjected to physical abuse.
Expect the delicate feelings unexplained from a person who identifies himself sexually-oriented in a different way.
Expect the story of a single father who tries to cope up in a foreign land with his children to meet the daily chores.
Expect a story that runs in two parallel storylines, one about the characters and other about the country which itself is also a character.
Who can read?
The book is targeted to the readers who understand what teenage life feels like; how various problems attack a person’s psyche. The book also has matured elements that consist of abuse, gender orientation, and mental diseases. Keeping in mind these factors, the book is not suitable for children below 14 years of age.
My take on the characters
A character can be a person, a thing, or a place or so. A writer writes and builds a character that performs actions, takes forward the story, and thus gives life to the story. Characters make stories. Without characters, there is no story to tell, no situations to imagine nor any scenery to describe. This prologue on characters is necessary here because Balli Kaur’s characters in this book ‘Inheritance‘ are so very important that not even a page can be thought of without the characters.
Usually, there will be central and side characters in a book. But here, all of them are the central characters. Because the story is conveyed from every one of them. Be it Amrit, or Narain or Gurudev, or Kiran. Every character is given ample amounts of scope, strength, and timing.
How good is the author’s writing style
This is my first book from the author, and I shall admit her simple yet strong writing has opened new avenues in my thought-process. As I am unaware of the Punjabi lifestyle, their family structure and the tradition, I am even unaware about life, and it’s a metamorphosis in the Singapore country.
In this book, with an intriguing narration author, Balli Kaur introduced me to a new horizon of Indians living in a foreign country. As the story is set up in the 70s era, the nativity and the flavor of the then life is projected interestingly. Easy langue and good vocabulary added more beauty to the writing. The taboos and the unheard difficulties faced by teenagers and young adults are very intrinsically explained in a universally acceptable language.
How entertaining is the book?
The story has intense emotions, interesting drama and a parallel story of a country’s development. There are many places where a wow factor, a sorry feeling and shocking interpretations of incidents attract the readers. The book is a perfect blend of feelings and events and thus makes it a good entertainer.
A story that explores life beyond imagination!
(Reviewed for Storizen Magazine by Swapna Peri)