Not only did I enjoy this book but I learnt something about money laundering! Now I know how to ‘wash out dirty money’. Not that I have any of those to speak of but nevertheless I do know how it all works now. Anyway, reading this book felt as though someone has written about what could have happened to me if I didn’t have parents or siblings. Honestly, even if I had parents and siblings, I’d probably end up in the same state as Shruti (the narrator and main character of The Painted Ocean by Gabriel Packard). I could just see my 19-year-old self being exactly like her – naive, ignorant (but smart) and needy of any friends (although I wasn’t as clingy and desperate like her), which actually got her in trouble in the first place.
So let’s start at the beginning…Shruti was born in England and of Indian descent/background. She’s 11 years old and her father has just left her and her mother. Her mother does not speak English and sews at home to make a living. Because of izzat, Shruti’s mother is being pressured by her uncle to remarry back in India, leaving Shruti to live with foster parents. At school she is getting bullied and at home she is not wanted by her mother. Fast forward eight years and we find Shruti going to a University that she doesn’t really like because she is obsessed with a friend she met at primary school called Meena. When Meena invites Shruti to go on a holiday to India, Shruti’s life turn from mundane to a dangerous adventure.
This is a page turner. I couldn’t wait to find out what’s going to happen to Shruti. And because it’s written in her own voice, I could just imagine what she looks like and how she sounds. Although, in some places I find her a bit too irritating. I mean I could understand if she talks like this as a teenager but her voice does not change as she got older, which I thought is a bit unrealistic. Also, sometimes I wish the story would hurry up because some areas are just too drawn out – as if Packard is trying to beef it up just for the sake of it. Nonetheless, this is still quite a good debut novel for Packard. I do definitely recommend it!