Book of the Month is a monthly book subscription box. Each month, five curators pick out their favorite new hardcover books, and you can choose which one you want to receive on the first of the month for $14.99/month. You can also add up to two additional books for only $9.99 each. (This box was named one of the best subscriptions for avid readers in the 2022 Subscription Box Awards.)
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My BOTM Pick for December
Independence — Hard Cover Retail Value $28.99
Book Summary from Amazon:
In a rural village in Bengal live three sisters, daughters of a well-respected doctor.
Priya: intelligent and idealistic, resolved to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a doctor, though society frowns on it.
Deepa: the beauty, determined to make a marriage that will bring her family joy and status.
Jamini: devout, sharp-eyed, and a talented quiltmaker, with deeper passions than she reveals.
Theirs is a home of love and safety, a refuge from the violent events taking shape in the nation. Then their father is killed during a riot, and even their neighbors turn against them, bringing the events of their country closer to home.
As Priya determinedly pursues her career goal, Deepa falls deeply in love with a Muslim, causing her to break with her family. And Jamini attempts to hold her family together, even as she secretly longs for her sister’s fiancè
When the partition of India is officially decided, a drastic—and dangerous—change is in the air. India is now for Hindus, Pakistan for Muslims. The sisters find themselves separated from one another, each on different paths. They fear for what will happen to not just themselves, but each other.
About the Book
This book immediately caught my eye this month because I am ashamed to admit that I do not know much about what has happened throughout India's history. Perhaps there had been a mention or two in history books I had read growing up, but it was very clear to me that even if there had been, it had been glazed over and the importance (and atrocities) of what had happened were not at all conveyed. It wasn't until very recently that I began to look further into the Partition of India (thanks to a show I watch with my kids), so when I saw this book as one of my choices for this month I knew I had to jump on it.
"Independence" is written through the eyes of three daughters, Priya, Jamini, and Deepa, during the Partition of India. Each chapter takes you through an important event or emotional experience that one of the sisters has during this time. The first few chapters is a lot of character building and setting the scene for the book, so I had a hard time getting into it at the beginning. However, the book quickly picks up the pace and I found myself staying up late and even bringing it to school pick up in order to finish the last chapter.
As the book unfolds we see the harsh realities that come from the Partition. Families are torn apart, mothers, fathers and children are killed, lifetime friendships are dissolved, secrets are kept, and promises are broken. Priya, Jamini, and Deepa's family is no different than the rest and I think all of us can find bits and pieces of ourselves in each one. One of the main themes throughout the book is that life and death are intricately linked. Even as people they love die around them, a new country, new hope, and a new generation is born. It's not the happy ending you hope to read, but more of an honest look at the realities that happened during that time and how despite it all, a family was torn apart and then somehow found each other again.
I found this book extremely eye-opening and I would highly recommend it for anyone that wants a more personal account of stories from this time. "Independence" is historical fiction, so while the main historical facts are true, the stories themselves may not necessarily be. However, after researching the actual events of what took place during the Partition of India, it's really not hard to imagine some form of each of these three sisters experiences taking place at that time. The author, Divakaruni, was really able to bring these stories to life and had me researching the history of this event once I was done reading it. It's amazing to me that such an event took place and yet is not discussed more (at least it wasn't when I was growing up). Any book that can make me research more after I'm done reading it, is one that I am confident recommending to others. Especially if you love historical fiction or haven't read much on the Partition of India.
Value - Was This Box Worth It?
Yes! Honestly, I don't think this answer is ever going to change for me. I believe books are like artwork: not every single one is going to be to your taste, but someone, somewhere, is going to enjoy it. The fact that the BOTM book are already vetted and approved means you will mostly be getting great books.
BOTM Club books range from $12.50-$16.99 depending on your chosen subscription.
The Cost: $9.99 + free shipping
Value Breakdown: This box costs $9.99, but the book I chose retails for $29, which was a discount of about $19 for me. (Remember...this is first month only).
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To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this book if you sign up today? Yes! But you will need to order it as an add-on. This book came late due to a large amount of BOTM subscribers requesting it, so it won't be available for your pick by the time this review comes out.
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