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A Disobedient Girl

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  844 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews

In one of the most impressive debuts of the year, Ru Freeman delivers an epic, searing novel about betrayal and salvation, the strength of the human spirit, and the boundlessness and limits of love.

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group (first published 2009)
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Apr 25, 2011 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2015 Moniqa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Freeman's imagery is breathtaking; I fell in love with this book two minutes in. Her narrative and characters are compelling and dynamic. Universal themes and heartbreaking commentary on life as a woman are brought to life in every scene. I adored every minute and strongly recommend the audio book narrated by Anne Flosnik.
May 31, 2012 S.C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a fan of coming-of-age tales (The Kite Runner) and family sagas (The House of the Spirits) as well as stories that are told with multiple voices (The Poisonwood Bible). I am especially fond of stories that take me to other places, places I've never been but have always been curious about (Memoirs of a Geisha, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan). So when I came upon "A Disobedient Girl" through the Vine program, I found a story that really fit the bill.

Author and political journalist Ru Freeman
May 27, 2009 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel tells the story of Latha and Biso in alternating chapters. It begins with Latha as an unloved little girl, rationalizing her stealing of soap from her employers in order to maintain the hygeine habits of the rich. Latha works as a servant and desires the luxuries that her employers, the Vithanages, are accustomed to but deny the servants. Biso is a young mother in Matara, a fishing village in South Sri Lanka, who has decided to leave her alcoholic, abusive husband and flee to her fami ...more
Sep 23, 2009 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sri Lanka is located in South East Asia, an island country just south of India. It is a beautiful country that has been mired in conflict for over 40 years. Cultural and religious differences are at the forefront of the civil unrest and terrorist acts by extremists. Ru Freeman's novel, A Disobedient Girl, is set during these tumultuous times. Biso is the mother of three young children. In the early morning hours, she prepares her children for travel. After years of abuse, she has finally decided ...more
Apr 08, 2013 Dawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These women creep up on you. The book seems to be plodding along, and the next thing you know you're completely absorbed in the physical and emotional minutiae of the every day lives of the characters. And then suddenly it's not minutiae anymore, but full blown drama. And although you're left wondering for a very long time how the two stories are connected ... that realization creeps up on you too.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Latha is a servant girl to a rich high-caste family, the Vithanage's, living in Sri Lanka's largest city of Colombo. Brought to live and work for the family when she was about five years old, Latha resists the servile and humble expectations placed on her, enjoying instead her friendship with the Vithangage's daughter Thara and small luxuries like the Pear's soap she steals from them for her own use.

When she's eleven years old, Thara sets her sights on young Ajith, a high-caste boy from a wealt
May 31, 2009 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Disobedient Girl; by Ru Freeman is an ambitious debut novel set in Sri Lanka with a theme of class and servitude. The story is told in alternating chapters about two central female characters. Latha is a young servant girl to a wealthy family that includes Thara, a girl about the same age as Latha.

Latha longs for the finer things in life and believes she was meant to have more in life than bathing at the well. She steals a bar of fine rose soap and sneaks off to bathe, using the soap belonging
Sep 07, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ru Freeman’s gorgeous debut novel A Disobedient Girl opens with eleven-year-old Latha enjoying her daily indulgence—an afternoon wash at the well using a rose-scented soap. The soap is a symbol of status and she has stolen it from the Vithanages, a family raising her to be a servant for Thara, their same-age daughter. As they grow, the two young girls become as close as sisters, but the years pass and Latha’s duties to Thara increase; she begins to bristle in her role as servant. When she and Th ...more
Latha is a servant girl for the well to do Vithanage family. Being close in age to their only child, Thara, she forms a friendship and a quasi sisterhood that she naively believes endows her with some sense of equality. Sadly, she learns over time that Thara is the beloved daughter and she is just a servant and therefore not entitled to the wealth and privilege that Thara takes for granted. Through some poor decision making on her part(she is a child after all) she becomes pregnant by Thara's bo ...more
Nov 23, 2012 Sharanja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sri-lanka
I don't think I will ever recover from reading this book. I've never read a novel that had as many tragic female heroines as Ru Freeman's "A Disobedient Girl".

The story alternates between the lives of two Sri Lankan women, one being the young mother, Biso, and the other, Latha, a servant girl who wishes to be more than that.

Biso is running away with her three young children from an abusive husband. We learn that her youngest daughter is also a product of an affair that Biso had with a fellow vi
Sep 08, 2009 Serena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ru Freeman's A Disobedient Girl is set in Sri Lanka and is narrated by two women, Latha and Biso, in alternating chapters. Each of these women struggles with their station in society, the desires they have to improve their lot in life, and the journey they find themselves on after making pivotal decisions. Readers also catch a glimpse of Thara and Leela's lives and struggles.

"Earrings are not decorations. They are a statement of legitimacy, of dignity, of self-worth. Ask any woman, and she would
Shamidha Hameed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Connie Mayo
Nov 20, 2009 Connie Mayo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite my Sri Lankan friend informing me that there were notable inaccuracies in this book, I liked it very much. The chapters alternate between Latha's story, told in third person, and Biso's story, told in first person, which took a little getting used to. I had no idea how the two stories connected until neat the end, and I found the end gripping - in fact, it was more of a three star book for me until the last chapters.

What I liked best about this book was Latha's consistent attitude towar
Oct 31, 2009 Bree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2009
An incredibly moving book...the ending got me. I have to admit that for most of the book I was having a hard time getting into it - I liked the characters and was interested in their story, it just seemed slow moving, I wanted the characters to come together like the jacket promises. And come together they do, at the end...only after reading it do I realize why the author had to do it that way.

I loved Latha (servant girl), was irritated by Thara (Latha's friend and later her master), hated Mrs V
Jun 14, 2014 Medha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its a superb read. Ru freeman is not a writer, she is a painter who uses vivid imagery for the landscape and a touching simplicity for the characters. The characters are so alive, that you weep with them and want to cry out for their helplessness.
The story is set against the political upheavals in Sri Lanka. The story follows the daily lives of middle class families as parallel tales which culminate in the last chapter. The reader is overwhelmed in the end, but still yearns for more. I wouldn't
Nov 06, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book, told in alternating chapters by Biso and Latha, is a kind of parallel story of friendship, love, and mistakes. While one starts hopeful and quickly turns sad, the other is sad and turns hopeful. The pace is a bit slow, but as you read, you begin to piece together what Biso and Latha have in common. And it's heartbreaking.

I really liked this one.
Jul 21, 2009 Carla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot believe that this is a debut novel-I was so sad when I finished it because I wanted to keep reading. It was filled with sweetness, heartbreak, challenge and strength and I just loved it. It was like reading two books in one-both of which were excellent. I look forward to Ru Freeman's next book. I am confident that it will live up to the same standards that this one did.
Seth the Zest
Nov 21, 2011 Seth the Zest rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2011
Few books are as intricately woven together from the start. By the halfway point, I thought I knew how the two stories in the novel wove together. The novel surprised me by continuously adding layers of intersection to the novel. It's outstanding and I have a signed copy.
Jan 04, 2014 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
The writing style, which was circuitous and poetic, was not for me. It took me several chapters to get into the story. The storyline was not bad and the depiction of life in Sri Lanka was interesting even though the writing style made it difficult to enjoy.
Nov 26, 2011 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book starts off slow, but once it picks up it really pulls you in. I felt really emotional as I started to put together Latha's backstory. It's an extremely well written book
Maureen Heraty
Mar 20, 2017 Maureen Heraty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book but parts of it are so heartbreaking that I had to stop reading. Unfortunately, it is also entirely plausible.
The main characters are well developed and believable. One immediately is taken up by two heroines whose stories are alternatively told throughout the book, and especially, Latha who is the disobedient girl of the title and whose life story is the center of the book.
I cannot say more than the publisher's blurb without giving away the story.
The ending is uplifting witho
Oct 07, 2009 michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books
A Disobedient Girl is the story of three very different women in Sri Lanka told from the voices of two of them. The reader doesn't get a clear sense of the time line except that one story is told in flashbacks over the course of a train trip and the other is over a number of years.

The book jacket says that this novel is about "betrayal and salvation, the strength of the human spirit, and the boundlessness and limits of love." Personally, I think that is pushing it a bit far. For me, this novel
Carleta Enzo Diaz
Mar 02, 2017 Carleta Enzo Diaz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of all the people in this book, I wished Biso a happy ending... :(
Tara Chevrestt
This is a novel about status and how people are born into either a life of luxury or a life of servitude. The story opens in Sri Lanka with Thara, a spoiled little rich girl and her servant, Latha. Latha thinks Thara is her friend, but Thara and her mother definetly do not treat Latha like a friend. They boss her around, parade their fancy clothes and shoes in front of her, deny her even the smallest luxuries like bar soap, make her bathe in a well, and sleep on the floor. Latha is treated like ...more
Mar 19, 2013 Iris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daniela Domenici
Due destini intrecciati e apparentemente disgiunti e solo alla fine si capirà cosa li lega, la storia intensa di due donne che lottano con coraggio contro una cultura, quella del paese in cui vivono, lo Sri Lanka, che cerca di piegarle alle tradizioni. Sono due donne in viaggio, ognuna in modo diverso, verso la stessa meta: la libertà.

“Una ragazza disobbediente” di Ru (il cui nome intero è Ruvani Seneviratne) Freeman pubblicato da Piemme è, secondo le stesse parole dell’autrice, “una lettera d’a
J. Yandell
This story was a heartbreaker. There was a point near the end that I nearly put it down, it was just getting too depressing. The story follows a young servant named Lata (? I listened to this on audio, lol, so I have no idea how to spell the names, just how to pronounce them), and a mother of three children named Beso.

I have some issues with Beso's end — she has seemed such a competent and resourceful woman, thinking ahead, planning, and dealing with setbacks... and then she just breaks apart so
Jan 17, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book is several things, but, in hindsight, portraying Latha as a girl who desired fine things, is I think, wrong and misleading.
1) men and women who have sex without a thought of the consequences, Latha and her three pregnancies and the fact that she herself was a child of an affair, this made me shake my head.
2) Biso as a narrative voice, very close to the end it became obvious that her voice was not to be trusted, her actions (the affair, dragging her kids across the country to a
Apr 15, 2010 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: Emily K.
Shelves: adult-fiction
There are two main characters: Biso and Latha. The book switches each chapter to tell their respective stories.

Latha is a servant girl growing up in/observing a fairly dysfunctional family and she wants a LOT more from her life. She makes a lot of poor life choices that I can't even begin to identify with and yet this was my favorite of the two stories. Even without relating to her particular choices and circumstances the author does a superb job of making her relatable in spirit.

Biso is a moth
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Sep 10, 2015 04:38PM  
Why do you think Thara treated Latha the way she did? 2 12 Sep 13, 2011 07:19PM  
Disobedient Teens 1 12 Apr 28, 2011 09:14AM  
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Ru Freeman (b. 1967) is a Sri Lankan born writer and activist whose creative and political work has appeared internationally.

She is the author of the novels A Disobedient Girl (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 2009), and On Sal Mal Lane (Graywolf Press), a NYT Editor’s Choice Book. Both novels have been translated into multiple languages including Italian, French, Turkish, Dutch, and Chinese.

She is e
More about Ru Freeman...

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“He was with me, beside me, inside me, and I did not care that my children were asleep, alone at home, or that the neighbors might come to know. He burned the fear out of me until all was left was desire.” 20 likes
“There is no right and wrong, and precepts are for fools. Every thing is just as it is! And we must experience things without condemning them, because if we condemn them, then we are becoming too involved.” 11 likes
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