Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review (10) A Walk Across the Sun - Corban Addison

Pages:384 (ARC)
Publisher: HarperCollins (January 3, 2012)
Synopsis(from Goodreads): When a tsunami rages through their coastal town in India, 17-year-old Ahalya Ghai and her 15-year-old sister Sita are left orphaned and homeless. With almost everyone they know suddenly erased from the face of the earth, the girls set out for the convent where they attend school. They are abducted almost immediately and sold to a Mumbai brothel owner, beginning a hellish descent into the bowels of the sex trade.
Halfway across the world, Washington, D.C., attorney Thomas Clarke faces his own personal and professional crisis-and makes the fateful decision to pursue a pro bono sabbatical working in India for an NGO that prosecutes the subcontinent's human traffickers. There, his conscience awakens as he sees firsthand the horrors of the trade in human flesh, and the corrupt judicial system that fosters it. Learning of the fate of Ahalya and Sita, Clarke makes it his personal mission to rescue them, setting the stage for a riveting showdown with an international network of ruthless criminals.

My Rating:

Ahalya and Sita had the perfect life, until the unexpected happened; a tsunami hit their beautiful little south Indian town. Ahalya and Sita were forced to fight for their lives, and managed to have survived. However, they quickly learnt that they were the only ones in their family who made it. They were completely devastated by the loss of their parents. Being the older sister, Ahalya realized the responsibility that has been forced upon her, and she vows to protect Sita. Thinking fast, she called the principle of the convent school that she and Sita attend. The principle asked them to find a ride to the school and everything else would be taken care of.

With a glimmer of hope, Ahalya and Sita set out into the destroyed remains of the city, desperately looking for a ride. They managed to find one of their father's long time friend; Ramesh. He promised to find them a ride, as he too, had to get out of the city. Ramesh delivered his promise with the ride and informed the girls about a conference he had to attend, which was halfway to their school. He instructed the driver to take the girls to the school, and was kind enough to pay for the whole journey. Unfortunately to their bad luck, the driver was associated with the underworld, and sold the girls to criminals. They were sold multiple times after that and finally ended up at a brothel in Bombay(major city), India. However their journey does not end just yet.

On the other side of the world, Thomas Clarke; a successful lawyer in Washington, DC has faced his own set of problems. The loss of his six month old daughter, Mohini was excrutiatingly difficult for him and his wife. Since then, neither of them were able to return to their normal state, and made absolutely no progress of moving forward. His wife, Priya left him, in an attempt to fill the void in her heart, she went back home to her family in Bombay, India. Losing two of the most important people in his life affected Thomas' performance at work. To his good luck, his boss was very understanding and decided not to fire him. Instead, he offered Thomas one of two choices; To take some time off, and go on a long-overdue vacation OR to pursue a sabbatical in one of the organizations affiliated with their company.

Since a vacation is the last thing on his mind, he chose the sabbatical. After spending a fraction of his time asking around and researching, a position at the NGO caught his interest, it is a non-profit organization that prosecutes the regions human traffickers. It is also situated in Bombay, India, and he used this as an excuse to make things right with Priya.

Although they come from two completely different worlds, so to speak. Fate brings Thomas and the girls together when Thomas is sent on a mission by the NGO to rescue the girls. Their adventure is unbelieveable, as they make their way through different continents and are forced to adapt to different cultures.

My Thoughts
First off, I just want to say that this is a great piece of literary adult fiction. I know, I primarily stick to YA, but I got this one in my gift bag from the Ontario Book Blogger meet up. I read the back of the book, and along with the summary one of the first things I saw was John Grisham's comment, and that was what convinced me to read it. Once I started though, putting it down proved to be a difficult task! This book is set in Bombay (now known as Mumbai), India. It is also the place I was born in and visited this past summer. So it's pretty safe to say that everything is still very fresh.

The characters in this book are very well developed. Ahalya and Sita grow throughout the experiences they encounter in this novel. I found myself relating to Ahalya for the most part, this probably has to do with the fact that she is the oldest sibling (like myself). Understanding the issues from her point of view was easy, and I really felt for her. I also enjoyed Dinesh (a minor, but significant character). Dinesh was Thomas' roommate in college and now resides in Bombay. When Thomas arrived in Bombay, he stayed with him. Dinesh subtly adds humor to this very serious book, making it a little lighter. The prostitution aspect was very hard for me to take in. I found myself getting emotional several times throughout the book. It's so sad when innocent people are taken advantage of and treated so badly. I like that this book especially, has an epilogue. It makes the story realistic and also gives you hope that people can over-come these issues, and it also gives closure with the characters.

Like I said before, I was in Bombay this past summer and in the places and on the streets that are mentioned. But nothing registered! Everything came to me as a shock. The perspective I had of Bombay, is the complete opposite of what is stated in the book. I cannot believe how sheltered I have been. It is disturbing to see what extents people will go to for money. I honestly feel like I've been living under a rock! A Walk Across the Sun is a great eye-opener of how free we truly are. I highly recommend this book, I know it's very depressing, but it is a really informative read. This is Corban Addison's first book, I still can't believe how good it is!