Book Review: What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera

  • ISIN:  9781250043948
  • Genre: Fiction / Drama
  • Publishers: Pan McMillan Publishers
  • Price: Rs. 307/- (I got this book from the publisher for a review)
From the award-winning author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors comes the confession of a woman, driven by the demons of her past to commit a single and possibly unforgivable crime.

"The walls of my cell are painted an industrial white, like albumen. They must think the color is soothing. Where I come from it connotes absence, death, unrelenting loneliness."

In the idyllic hill country of Sri Lanka, a young girl grows up with her loving family; but even in the midst of this paradise, terror lurks in the shadows. When tragedy strikes, she and her mother must seek safety by immigrating to America. There the girl must reinvent herself as an American teenager to survive, with the help of her cousin. Both love and loss fill her life, but even as she assimilates and thrives, the secrets and scars of her past follow her into adulthood. In this new country of freedom, everything she has built begins to crumble around her, and her hold on reality becomes more and more tenuous. When the past and the present collide, she sees no other choice than to commit her unforgivable final act. This is her confession.

Behind the book

About the Author

Nayomi Munaweera’s debut novel, Island of a Thousand Mirror was long-listed for the Man Asia Literary Prize and the Dublin IMPAC Prize. It won the Commonwealth Regional Prize for Asia and was short-listed for the Northern California Book Award. Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “Munaweera’s… lyrical debut novel [is] worthy of shelving alongside her countryman Michael Ondaatje or her fellow writer of the multi generational immigrant experience, Jhumpa Lahiri.” The New York Times Book review called the novel, “incandescent.”

Nayomi’s second novel, What Lies Between Us will be released in February 2016 and has been receiving early accolades as one of 2016’s most anticipated books. More at

Me thinks

I fell in love with this book and its cover. It has a mysterious feel to it, added to it the blurb which is devastatingly beautiful. I come from a dysfunctional family myself and hence everything that talks about those cracks is something that fascinates me the most. I grabbed the book because maybe I was expecting some answers. Like I do in such books most of the time. And did I find....? Yes I did.

The story begins with an unknown lady narrating the story of her life to us. As she slips back in time and takes us through her childhood and other important junctions you cannot help notice the pain she must have experienced but what you cannot even gauge remotely is the ending. Layering her story with many sub-plots which do perfect justice to the main story the author has done an impressive job at narration. Not once do you feel lost or in a position where you need to go back and forth in pages to recollect what happened that lead to this. Her narration is fluid and in a manner where you just flow with the story and ofcourse the character.

The best part about this book is she makes me feel for the lead character. Anger at sometime, sympathy at few and most of all, I feel sorry for her. I not only emphasis with her life story but I also shed a tear or two as I was led into few dark alleys of my own life. This has by far been the most difficult read for me because of the eerie similarities in many portions. I was tempted more than once to just let it be, but I couldn't. I knew if I didn't finish reading it it would haunt me forever. As a reviewer I struggled to keep aside my emotions and continue reading this book. I think that is where the author scores a brownie point, in her beautiful descriptions and detailed character sketches. She makes it all come alive. The horrors, the joys, the dreams and ofcourse the nightmares - they are all there for you to witness. With their stark nakedness staring back at you, all you can do is either cringe in discomfort or stare back at them long enough to scare them away. And that is what I did. I read the book and in a way healed myself through it. It taught me why it was important for me to heal myself emotionally and mentally which I did many years ago and boy! I was so thankful for that.

Highly recommended. Don't miss this one. Not because it is an award winning book, but because it is a book that deserves it all - the accolades, prizes, praise  and ofcourse reads not once but many times over and over because good things need to be experienced more than once.
Foodie Verdict

This book is like Spicy Roast Potatotes - you just cannot have enough!