The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal - book review

The Unexpected Son

By: Shobhan Bantwal

Published: July 27, 2010
Format: Trade Paperback, 352 pages
ISBN-10: 0758232039
ISBN-13: 978-0758232038
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation

Vinita Patil discovers a past and a present she had thought had never existed when she discovers she has a son in her former home of India. She had thought the son was stillborn, but finds out that she may lose him again without ever meeting him to leukemia. An urgent letter draws Vinita back to her home town in India, and into an experience of love, joy, heartbreak, and inspiration in the engaging and moving novel The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal.

In a story that bridges time and place, past and present, and lives once thought lost and a rediscovered present, Shobhan Bantwal creates a world both rich in detail and in memorable characters. The author touches a universal theme of love of family and of children, as mother and son find one another under life threatening circumstances. As Vinita returns to her home village, once a tiny hamlet but now a bustling and polluted small city, her move back in time clashes with modern India. Filled with the sights and sounds, and even the scents and flavours of India, the novel immerses the reader in a world at once distant, yet near to the heart as universal human emotions draw the reader deeply into the story.

Shobhan Bantal (photo left) develops the enduring themes of love, family, a sense of loss, of discovery, and of redemption in her fine novel. The story traverses cross-cultural boundaries from America to India, where the present meets the past and finds the present once again. The long lost son represents the hope for the future, while at the same time is a metaphor for a past thought lost and without hope for recovery. That hope is met in part through the terrible illness suffered by the son, and the love of his mother as she arrives in her past to meet the future. The now grown hometown itself represents the changes that have taken place in India, just as Vinita herself has changed with the passing of years. Despite the superficial changes, however, the deeper love and attachments remain and endure in Vinita and in her former home country.

Like all fine novelists, Shobhan Bantal peoples her novels with memorable and very real characters. This story is no exception, as the people and their motivations and actions reflect those of people all over the world. Love, family, joy, and sorrow know of no national boundaries, and Shobhan Bantal writes and describes timeless themes in an entrancing style, that brings her twin worlds of India and America together as one. Indeed, the meeting of East and West, where worlds can both collide and unite, forms a powerful allegory for the modern global village. The novel is rich in characters, but is also rich in time and place, and the author fills in the atmosphere with skill and delight.

I highly recommend the wonderful novel The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal, to anyone seeking a story of love, of family, and of a clash and uniting of two very different cultures. The novel draws the reader into the story, and the lives of the characters, and maintains interest until the last page is read. Even as the novel is closed, these remarkable characters live on in our minds.

Read the heartwarming novel The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal, and travel between America and India, and enter the lives of some very fascinating people. As the title suggests, be prepared to expect the unexpected.

Tags: The Unexpected Son, Shobhan Bantwal, Indian culture, fiction book reviews.