The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Atlas of Unknowns, by Tania James

I read this book because the premise intrigued me: a young Indian girl with a chance to go to college in New York takes credit for her disabled sister’s artwork.

This isn’t the first time Anju has lied. She manages to con the gullible, but we all know that’s not going to last forever, especially once she lands in America and faces our culture of demanding proof. But Anju isn’t evil — she’s slightly deceitful, not a true villain. Her lies are almost mindless, though 100% selfish. Meanwhile, her sister, Linno, suffers from being a social outcast as a result of her injury. What’s another indignity? Yet when Anju vanishes, Linno and the girls’ father, Melvin, each strike out to find her in very different ways.

Melvin is heartbreaking, with an incredibly sad story that is parcelled out in tiny bits. And that is, to me, James’ greatest talent — pacing her action, spooling out her plots and subplots so that it all builds, with the villains becoming sympathetic because, finally, we feel like we know them and their motivation. I especially like books in which the antagonists are understandable, multi-dimensional people whose actions make sense for them, even if we readers are not meant to approve. Atlas of Unknowns is a beautiful, unusual, and intriguing book, and I strongly recommend it.

Animal lovers have nothing to worry about here. There are no animal characters, and aside from a reference to taxidermy and Melvin recalling an accident in which a puppy died, there isn’t anything to be sad about regarding animals. So this book is completely SAFE for animal lovers. Enjoy!

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July 24, 2010 - Posted by | beach book, Book Reviews, death of a parent, families, travel | , , , ,

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