3 out of 4 stars
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Myth and Punishment is an interesting and very informative coming of age book written by Anoop Chandola.
Adina is a twelve-year old East Indian girl born in the United States. Her mother divorced her father when she was two then secretly sold off family jewels, which are Adina’s birthright, to defy Hindu tradition. One of the jewels was said to be offered by her maternal grandmother to one of the Hindu gods. This was in return for a grandchild which resulted to Adina’s birth. Now, Adina is in search of the god whom the jewel was offered. Thankfully, Adina’s paternal grandparents teach her about her Indian heritage. So, using her laptop, Adina invokes each god by meditating on what she knows about each of them and so powerful are her meditations that the gods appear and talk with Adina like real live persons.
This is a very informative book about Indian culture. Told in the third person perspective and with an established plotline, the book is primarily about Hindu deities and mythological figures including Agni, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Yama, the monkey god Hanuman and the sage Narada among others as well as Indian historical figures like Gautama Buddha, Akbar the Great, Saint Kabir and Princess Mirabai.
The author successfully incorporates Indian myth and history with a timely and very significant domestic issue, divorce. By featuring a different mythological or historical figure in each chapter, the author teaches the readers various Indian traditions and by asking each figure of his or her opinion about Adina’s predicament, the author imparts Indian beliefs particularly regarding appropriate punishment for certain crimes and wrongdoings especially those that affect the lives of other people.
Aside from the crime of making false statements for personal gain, the book also brings up other relevant issues like parents’ abandonment of children, miscarriage of justice, gender equality and double standards. Moreover, the book mentions two important laws, the Law of Karma and the Law of the Jungle.
More than the deities and historical figures mentioned in the book, I think the core of this story is the importance of family and the effects of family disruption to all members especially if the cause of the disruption is duplicity of a member. The author expertly depicts the painful effects of deceitfulness by citing a few examples in the book.
However, as a non-Indian reader with very little knowledge of Indian mythology and history, I find all the information, somehow, overwhelming and at some points confusing. The part I found to be the most difficult to follow is the appearance of the different avatars of Vishnu and the different names used to refer to Parvati. Moreover, though the ending is undoubtedly satisfying, I feel that the initial quest was not fulfilled. Finally, I noticed a few errors within the entire book mostly typos and misspelled words.
I, therefore, rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is interesting, informative and entertaining. I recommend it not only to young adults but also to parents as well as readers who are interested in Indian mythology and history.
Myth and Punishment
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