BookBrowse Reviews What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera

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What Lies Between Us

by Nayomi Munaweera

What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera X
What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2016, 320 pages
    Apr 2017, 320 pages

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About this Book



An unnamed narrator drives this heart-wrenching and occasionally disturbing story of a young girl's path to adulthood from Sri Lanka to the United States.

It is no easy feat to write about dark topics but Nayomi Munaweera does this with so much elan that many BookBrowse First Impression reviewers labeled What Lies Between Us, a "must-read." Here's why this novel earned an impressive 4.5 rating.

Do the secrets of the past follow us into adulthood? This is the theme so beautifully developed by Nayomi Munaweera in this stunning novel. The story reads like a memoir as we follow the thoughts and confessions of a young girl as she is forced to leave her home in Sri Lanka and assimilate to life in America as a teenager (Maureen S). At times beautifully lyrical and horrifying, this tale, told in the first-person, ponders the far-reaching effects of an unspeakable transgression against a very young Sri Lankan girl (Barbara G).

Readers loved the unnamed narrator's voice

I was halfway through Nayomi Munaweera's What Lies Between Us before I realized that I did not know the first person narrator's name. While this is unusual story development, what I find even more intriguing is that it didn't matter since I was already so invested in her story. The young girl from Sri Lanka has such a strong narrative voice that I only knew that I wanted to know how the tangled web of her life would evolve from the opening paragraphs (Patricia G).

The novel reads like poetry

As I read this book I frequently found myself thinking that it read like poetry. At the end, I sat quietly just to let it all settle in my mind and heart. Such a tragic story told with such lyrical beauty and passion! (Ginny B). The story is beautifully written in the lyrical language of a poet, yet it captures the devastating and brutal turns that life can take. You will be unable to put this book down. Not only do I recommend it, I consider it a "must-read" (Maureen S).

The topics covered are dark but sensitively executed

Nayomi Munaweera is able to blend beautiful writing with heart-wrenching topics. Often such stories are too difficult to read, but her ability to draw the reader in and keep them captivated is what makes her such a talented author (Kate S). Munaweera's prose is flowing and lyrical, punctuated with images and emotional depth which would make this novel a good choice for book club discussion. Serious issues of immigration, sexual abuse, interracial marriage, postpartum depression are intertwined with grace by a young woman whose past both defines and forecasts her future (Patricia G). Sometimes you read to escape, sometimes you read to go deeper into the human experience, perhaps to places darker than anything you have known. This is one of those books — haunting, disturbing yet connected and real, if it were not beautifully written, it may be too hard to read (Sarah H).

Many found the themes and writing make this novel a winner

In the end the reader can only be convinced of the great harm that can be done when the innocent are manipulated by those they trust. This book will stay with you for a long time (Barbara G). The story shows us in heartbreaking detail how what we do to each other leaves a mark that isn't easily erased. The narrator says at one point: "This is the history of what we do to one another. This is the story of what it means to be both a child of a mother and a child of history." This is one of the best books I read this year. A stunning achievement (Joan R).

This review was originally published in February 2016, and has been updated for the April 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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