Saturday, May 18, 2013

On Sal Mal Lane

Life on Sal Mal Lane seems a bit idyllic- an entire universe all by itself.  In the late 1970s/early 1980s in Sri Lanka, as tensions rise leading up to the country's civil war, the residents on Sal Mal Lane seem immune to the larger world, content to exist together despite differences of religion.

The children on Sal Mal Lane are the central figures in this story, and since this novel is told through their eyes, the tensions that begin to come to Sri Lanka, are not felt initially by the children.  When the Heraths move to their new house on Sal Mal Lane they are immediately looked up to by the other residents. Their father has a job with the Ministry of Education and all four children dess well, sing Christian hymns, and are educated.  Perhaps the best part about the Heraths is that the children openly embrace friendships with the children on their street, despite the fact that the neighboring twin girls are only half clothed, and their older brother is a bully.

Freeman's descriptions of Sri Lanka created a beautiful picture in my mind, and the story provided an entirely new knowledge about this country and the sorrow it endured during the war.  By creating characters that were so human, the suffering and pain felt during Sri Lanka's civil war is brought to life.

Freeman's novel is beautifully written, a tribute of sorts to the suffering of Sri Lankans - definitely worth taking the time to read and enjoy.

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