When Will You Die by Jayanthi Sankar
My take on the book:
Susan’s parents had trouble in their marriage from her childhood and after her father left their house, Susan’s mother also left with a man from their neighborhood. As Susan was brought up by her Nani ma Maria in Goa, Susan’s mother returned back pregnant, only to deliver a boy and pass away. A twelve-year-old Susan decides to play mother to her baby brother Joseph(Joe), and pampers him.
Susan becomes friend with Suiyi, a Chinese boy settled in Singapore by writing letters to him as a pen friend. As kids, both Susan and Suiyi have similar situations as home, living with their respective siblings, away from parents. Upon Suiyi’s insistence, Susan moves to Singapore to get a better job and soon marries Suiyi. Will Suiyi and Susan be able to live their happily-ever-after? How does staying away from his sister affect Joe’s life forms the rest of the story.
The story is about two sets of siblings and their families, especially about kids with dysfunctional families and how childhood trauma and lack of love and care from parents can affect adult behavior. The story starts in an interesting manner, with intriguing characters and their respective back stories. The secrets that are part of these families are slowly unwrapped by the author.
However, the second half is where the story loses the pace and keeps going in circles, at times moving around subplots that do not add value to the actual narrative. The topic picked by the author around trauma and mental health is impressive and definitely needs to be discussed more than it is done today in our society.
The author lost an opportunity to deliver a good message, as the theme picked up is a good one, but execution is where the story falters. The story held my interest for the first 100 pages but after that it sort of went downhill. The suspense factor is maintained till end and the ending though not spelled out, hints at what could have happened or may be the author wanted to leave the ending unexplained.
If you like to read family dramas or stories exploring mental health issues, then this will interest you.