Everything Was Good-Bye – Gurjinder Basran Review

This wonderful coming of age story is centered around Meena, a young Indian woman growing up in Vancouver who has a foot in two different worlds -India and Canada. The rich fabric of everyday Indian life is the backdrop to the struggle of young second-generation immigrants on the rocky road to assimilation. Ransacked by doubts, Meena is a self-hating woman who struggles with her heritage and cultural identity. She soon finds there’s a price to be paid for following customs instead of her heart, resulting in a loveless marriage and the expectations and demands of her Indian family. She tries to leave the old world behind and establish her own identity by escaping her native culture and its obligations, even though she knows better. In this often painfully honest and original narrative, we witness Meena’s painful process of self-discovery and independence.

This was an incredible book. Everyone who has ever felt like an outsider, who has had to deal with stereotypes, and who has ever had to sacrifice a part of themselves for someone else will be able to relate to this book. Meena is a young Indo-Canadian girl who is desperate to follow a different path than the one chosen for her by her mother and the ones that her sisters have. She wants the freedom that other girls her age have and questions the rules that she has grown up with. With Liam, she finds the freedom she is aching for and sees the life she could have. Liam represents a change for Meena and she is able to see the possibilities with him. After Liam leaves, she feels the hopelessness of her planned life sink in, and I understand why she decided to marry Sunny. She felt as if she didn’t have a choice and wasn’t strong enough to fight the societal rules she had grown up with. After Liam leaves, she feels like the possibilities for her are gone too.

One she married Sunny, I hated how she felt like she was almost free even though we as readers recognized that she was only a ghost of herself. Her life with Sunny stopped being about Meena and she lost her name along with her identity once they were married. She stopped writing in her journal and was forced to keep her thoughts to herself.

I thought the progression of events that followed was very true and I really liked Meena’s story…up until the ending. The ending definitely felt forced and I just didn’t find it believable. It just felt too drastic…like it was melancholy for the sake of being melancholy.

All in all though, it was a fantastic book and I definitely recommend it.

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