Monday, December 29, 2014

book review: The Road to Wanting by Wendy Law-Yone

The backstory: The Road to Wanting was longlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize.

The basics: The Road to Wanting is the story of Na Ga, who was born in Burma but left as a child. She's now on a journey back, but she isn't going by her choice, for reasons that slowly unfold along with how she left Burma and got to where she is.

My thoughts: Near the end of The Road to Wanting, I told Mr. Nomadreader it might be the most depressing book I've ever read. I'm not one to avoid depressing novels, but this one is harrowing. How many horrible things can happen to one person? Yet despite how depressing this book is, it's most depressing because Na Ga's story isn't unique. Although fictional in this sense, there are many women who endure the things she does.

As I read, I learned a lot about Burma, an area about which I knew very little. There is a large Burmese refugee population in Des Moines, and I appreciated this insight into modern Burmese history.

Favorite passage:  "Americans, I have noticed, are fools for homelands - especially the homelands of others. To determine a person's provenance is as important to them as it is to the Chinese to determine a person's worth."

The verdict: The Road to Wanting is a fascinating and distressing glimpse into modern Burma. It's also a harrowing story one woman who has no home and no family. This haunting novel is difficult to read, but it's message is an important and beautifully written one.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 272 pages
Publication date: April 1, 2011
Source: purchased

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Road to Wanting from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

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