Ed's Reviews > The Last Brother

The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah
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's review
Jan 27, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: 2012, 3-stars, historical-fiction, new-author-to-me, novella, read-on-kindle, tournament-of-books-2012, translation
Read from January 27 to 30, 2012

It's going to be difficult to come out of this review without seeming like a bit of a hard-ass. Unless your heart is made of stone, it is pretty impossible not be moved by the title character, Raj, who - in what appears to be his waning days -- reflects back on a memorable and traumatic summer when he was 10 years old.

Raj's story alone is a heart-breaker (the title gives that away, and that's only for starters! tho there are alternate interpretations of that as well) that one hardly needs the extra sadness of a whole other historical fiction layer. The novel takes place on the island nation of Mauritius, a remote island in the Indian Ocean and the flashbacks take place, unbeknownst to young Raj at the time, during WWII. Enter David -- a startlingly blond-curly haired, very white boy that Raj befriends... David is Jewish, a European refugee and orphan who is in a prison camp set up on the island after his boat is denied entry into Palestine.

So, a lot to emotionally to chew on, but yet I felt somewhat disconnected/distant. There was just so many bad things going on individually with Raj and David, as well as their combined story, that it was hard to focus on either of them. Overall, I thought the novel lacked freshness, which really should not have been the case given the setting of this little known country and piece of history. I sensed a better (or more well-told) story in there. It's a case of some 5-star ingredients that just didn't quite come together for me.

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Rannie "It's a case of some 5-star ingredients that just didn't quite come together for me." My thoughts exactly.

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