A book Review
Fidel Castro is Dead by Pradeep Persaud:
Excellently realistic with likeable characters and vibrant places set the stage for this funny and romantic story. The book spans decades and three continents as it follows young Abhi and Pam as their star-crossed love seems to never be able to find that moment for them. From the first time they are in the same room together you know they must be together, and the drive to see them together really powers the story.
The novel starts with a spectacularly vivid image of how different the two cultures; the one Abhi was born into and the one he has lived in since a young child. That Abhi actively lives with a foot in each culture is shown many times through the book and often puts him at cross purposes and have him in bizarre and funny circumstances and fuels the love-hate dynamic with his father.
One of the things that particularly captured me was how the attitudes of the main character changes as he ages as the city of New York changes along with him. The change is natural and in keeping with how attitudes change. I love that as a youth it was all love or hate. It was good and bad, black and white. New York was the city of rich and poor, from posh to filth. Later in the book as the middle class takes over New York is the grey. The more mature Abhi is now also able to see grey. Though still in love with Pam he goes on with his life. The bleakness of older Abhi, and the bleakness of his life. The struggle, and focus on the negative as New York turns into a dirty and filthy place. Atmosphere is really a driving movement in the novel and encompasses every scene with visceral reaction to the environment adding to what is taking place in the plot.
It is a fast paced book, but I found myself really relishing the descriptive text and sinking into the atmosphere. The richness of scenery and the complexity of very real and alive characters. There are no simple boy meets girl and falls in love; every moment is shaped and changed by circumstances so real-world, I think it is the first true to life romance I have read in years.