A Beautiful Lie, Ifran Master (Bloomsbury*)
In the last week or so leading up to the 1947 partition of India (our good friend Wikipedia actually has a good entry about it), thirteen-year-old Bilal is not only facing the end of his country as he knows it but his father, his Babuji, is dying. His father loves India, his mother country, and Bilal devises a plan to hide the truth from him so he can die believing that India is at peace.**
It's a very lovely story and it's great to see such important historical moments written about. Bilal's friends - all of whom come from different backgrounds - are great, lively characters. The riot scenes, between the Muslims and Hindus are probably the strongest in the novel. On the whole, though, the book meanders along at the one pace and it was difficult to maintain interest. The language was unremarkable, and at times tipped into the cringy side of sentimental.
A Beautiful Lie would have been a stronger story if it gave more explanation about what the date signified. Without prior knowledge of the partition of India, the reader could be a bit lost and Bilal himself didn't seem to explain, or even truly understand, the events that were taking place.
Nevertheless - I love a little bit of historical fiction to open people's eyes just a little to the things that have come before. A nice read.
*Copy received for review from Bloomsbury
**If it sounds like you've heard this story before, you might be thinking of that gorgeous German film Goodbye Lenin starring the hunkahunka Daniel Brühl, in which a young man recreates the GDR in his apartment so his mother, who has been in a coma and could die if put under stress or shock, doesn't know that the Berlin wall has come down and the East Germany she knew and loved has crumbled.