Subscribe to Jessica's exclusive newsletter

Subscribe to Jessica's newsletter

* indicates required

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Hope Factory by Lavanya Sankaran with Giveaway

What a good boy, the old lady would say. The answer to a mother's prayers.

"Yes," Kamala would say, and through her mind would fly this thought: Yes, an answer to my prayers, but did the gods have to let it take this form?

Because of certain life events I've never divulged on this blog, I fancy I know just a tad more about India than the average Anglo-American. I haven't been there, but The Hope Factory gives such a compelling picture of Bangalore it's almost as if I not only traveled there but also got to know two families intimately.

The novel tells two parallel stories that only coincide because Kamala is a maid in Anand's house. While it might appear that Kamala struggles to survive and Anand has only a business man's problems, the socio-political climate they're living in treats them both as expendable, and before the book is over, Anand faces some serious threats that might undo everything he has ever worked for.

I sympathize more with Kamala because she faces such serious threats to her survival on a daily basis. The slightest mood swing of her employer and she'll be back on the street with no hope for ever making her son's life better. She shows incredible courage, hard work and sacrifice and it's painful to see that her victories are so small. And this fictional story is probably a lot more true than anyone would like. But Kamala has hope, and that's what makes the book so hard to put down.

Faced with threats, Anand also has an opportunity to show he can make the corrupt system work, by hook or by crook, without compromising his amazingly uncorrupted values. The most exciting parts of the book are the few times when Anand and Kamala come together. It's like the collision of two different worlds. It's wonderful to see that someone who can help Kamala has enough consciousness of her situation to actually help her. But because of her pride no one will ever really know just how much Kamala deserves the help.

The book is beautifully written, with an excellent ear for the distinct language registers. The story builds slowly at first, but by the middle, it has a momentum that would catapult the most cynical through to the last page. This book is for anyone who ever hoped, lost, or sacrificed.

WIN A COPY

This book has not yet been released to the general public. Get the jump on everyone else by winning an advanced reader's copy! Because it's an advanced reader's copy direct from the publisher, it does have a few typo-type errors, but they never impede the enjoyment of the story. It's a paperback when everyone else will be carrying around a heavy hardback!

To enter, follow this blog and leave a comment below. For extra points, tell everyone you know about the giveaway on Twitter and Facebook. While you're there, like my author page. One winner will be randomly chosen at 6 pm CST on March 17 and contacted via email for his/her postal address by March 25.

Good luck!