Title: The Unexpected Son
Author: Shobhan Bantwal
Release Date: July 27, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Vinita Patil has been living in New Jersey with her husband Girish for the last 25 years. One day, she receives an anonymous letter in the mail saying that her son is dying of leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. Vinita is puzzled by this letter, as the only child she has is her daughter with Girish. But as she reflects on the letter, she realizes its implications if it’s true, and is caught in a tangled web of lies as she fights to save her son.
I have enjoyed Shobhan Bantwal’s previous novels, so when she contacted me about her upcoming release The Unexpected Son, I jumped at the chance to review it. I enjoy Bantwal’s talent at incorporating a suspenseful story with serious issues in today’s India, and this book was no exception.
Vinita Patil is a wonderfully smart and strong woman. She often follows her heart rather than her head, but she’s not overly impulsive and really cares for the people around her. When she learns about her son, all she can think of is caring for him, trying to heal him. Her guilt at abandoning him and anger at those who lied to her are overwhelming – she couldn’t believe what had happened, even as she comes to realize he ended up with a much better life than she could have provided at such a young age.
Bantwal also tackles some serious concerns in Indian society in The Unexpected Son. First, the treatment of young, unmarried pregnant women is shocking. It is still an incredibly taboo subject in society and enough to ruin not only the girl’s prospects at ever having a good life, but often also her family’s. Additionally, I appreciated Bantwal’s take on the regional, cultural violence in India. She portrays the clash between Kannada and Marathi in Vinita’s hometown in India. The desire for cultural and linguistic supremacy has led to physical clashes between the groups. Since India is still a young country, these violent movements are issues that Indians must face every day.
The Unexpected Son was a suspenseful read that also illuminated aspects of Indian culture and society for the reader. Bantwal consistently writes entertaining cultural novels with unexpected twists, and this novel was no different. If you’re looking for a lighter cultural read that still will teach you something, look no further from The Unexpected Son.
Other novels by Shobhan Bantwal: