The Boat People The Boat People discussion

Diane, Angela and Esil discuss

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Diane S ☔ Starting soon.

message 2: by Esil (new) - added it

Esil I started The Boat People last night. So far, I quite like it. My copy does not appear to be broken into sections of chapters. Unless one of you has a better idea, I would suggest commenting after approximately every 25%. It's partially set in Canada!

Angela M I’m only a few pages in . 25 % sounds good .

Diane S ☔ Have read to 25%. Very informative, showing the full picture of how refugees are processed and what they go through. Seeing it from all sides. I really can understand both sides of this problem. Feel for those escaping terror, but also for the people in the country who want to keep their country safe. Unfortunately a few ruin it for many. Scary times. Lise, you must find it even more interesting, being this your country. Did this really happen?

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Esil I finished the first 25% too. I like the characters the author has created, as they are involved in different ways with the Sri Lankan refugees. I also like how the story goes back in time to Sri Lanka to show us what the refugees were leaving and the nuances of their daily lives.

This is based on a real incident:

At the time the Conservative party was in power in Canada, whereas now the Liberals are in power. They have fairly different platforms on immigration and refugees so Fred Blair's character does not reflect the current government position on refugees. Having said that, it does remain a long and complex legal road for anyone seeking refugee status in Canada.

My only criticism is that Blair's attempt to influence Grace would be a very serious abuse of power, as she is meant to be an independent adjudicator. It seems fairly unrealistic. I'm curious to see where that part of the story goes.

The writing is very straightforward, so I expect this will be a quick read, but I won't be able to get back to it until tonight.

message 6: by Angela M (last edited Jan 04, 2018 07:08AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Angela M I was a little behind but just finished 25% too . I am liking it as well as appreciating the different perspectives . I like that we get a glimpse of the horrors of the war through Mahindan’s nightmares and also see the time when life was good .

One thing that struck me about Mahindan , Priya and Grace is that what is happening with each of them is new for them and all three are in learning mode and unsure of what lies ahead .

Lise , thanks for the link . Interesting to know this was based on a true story .

I knew very little about the Sri Lankan civil war . I read a novel a few years ago which attempts to give both sides . Island of a Thousand Mirrors

I won’t get back to reading until tonight either .

Diane S ☔ That's the only one I read on this conflict too. Have finished the next 25% and for some reason I am feeling a distance in this writing, as if we were observers instead of participants. I think part of the problem is the tone, which tends to stay the same throughout everyone's stories. More like narrative non fiction than fiction. I definitely like Muhindans story the best, the one I am most attached too. Don't care either way for Priyas nor Graces. Going back to the Japanese and their internment almost covers too much.

The story of Sillians birth is so awful, no meds, heartbreaking. Now they take him away, those poor people, though I believe some are not as innocent as they appear, no allowances are made for the fact that this was an internal war and that people do things they wouldn't normally do to survive.

Angela M I have a little more to read of the second 25 %. I didn’t read very much yesterday. Had an eye dr appointment then I ended up going to bed around 9 with Advil Pm . My back - muscle inflammation they say was really bothering me . I have PT this afternoon so hopefully will get some relief with treatment. Hate going out - it’s 2 degrees with wind chill of -19!

I’ll come back later to comment.

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Esil I'm almost done the next 25%. I agree with you Diane. I'm finding Munhindan and Sillian's story much more engaging than the parts focusing on Grace and Priya. I find that Grace and Priya lack three dimensions. While there are definitely differing levels of skills amongst adjudicators, I find that Grace is depicted as incompetent and naive in a way that strains credibility. I do like the scenes of Priya with her family, but again find that she lacks dimension as a character. It almost feels like the author is trying to put forward a political message at the expense of building three dimensional characters. I must also say that I feel like she exaggerates the negative reaction of Canadians to immigrants and refugees. There are definitely negative reactions, but our reality is much more complex.

Having said all of that, I am enjoying the part of the story focused on Sri Lanka and Munhindan enough for the experience to not all be negative.

Angela -- I really hope that you feel better soon!

And it's -22 celcius here (-8 F). Reminds me of my childhood winters in Montreal.

I won't have any more reading time until tonight, but I expect to finish this one tomorrow. There seem to be a lot of good books coming out in the next few months to pick from for our next read.

Diane S ☔ Perfect way to put it, Lise. A political message at the expense of character development, may be why the tone of this seems so distancing and relatively the same regardless of whose story we are reading. Glad you felt this too, was thinking maybe it was a book hangover for me or something like that. I too am liking it enough to see what happens.

Minus 11 here this morning, think I win in the cold contest, not that I want there to be one. Lol.

Ouch Angela, hope your PT gives you some relief. Do they give you a message? With my knee, always felt that gave me the most, slbrit short term relief.

Me, because of this excessive cold, and my cursed acute asthma, I am back on steroids.

Angela M I have read several books on the internment camps and have always found that so disturbing. But agree that too much is being covered. Not sure why the author chose to make this so broad except maybe to illustrate the difficulties of decision making during the the real event. That so many factors and people and personalities and circumstances may have influenced decisions. I appreciate your perspective from Canada, Lise.
I too am really most invested in and most sympathetic to Mahindan and Sellian and found it heartbreaking when they told Mahindan they were going to place Sellian with a family. I definitely want to know what happens to them.

Diane , sorry you need the steroids again . The PT consists of an ultrasound treatment, massage, moist heat and some exercises. I do get short term relief . My appt was scheduled for 1. They just called to see if I wanted to come earlier. Our development is on the lake and it’s blowing like crazy . I was going to wait and see if it got any better, but I’m not going this am. I have an appointment for Monday so may wait until then.

For February , would it be ok to start on feb 5th ? We will be arriving in Florida on the Ist and getting settled in for the month - can’t wait !!

Angela M I read through 75 %. Good to hear Priya’s family story and good for her to hear it . Liked that her father wants to work with the Tamil Alliance . In these chapters I now see the relevance of the Grace’s family story too - maybe giving her a better understanding of the refugees . Her mother Kumi says, “People who forget the wrongs that were done to them perpetuate those same wrongs on others.” So feeling more connected to these narratives- not necessarily to Priya but to her father and not to Grace but to her mother. Hard reading the chapter Hoard, but still sympathetic to Mahindan and for him and Sellian that they are separated. Overall liking it . Anxious to see how it ends up.

Going out to dinner with my sister and her family for her 70th birthday, so will finish up by tomorrow. Wish we didn’t have to go out in this nasty weather! Right now it’s snowing, blowing and 7 degrees !

Looks like we all have Straying so that’s one suggestion for February.

message 13: by Diane S ☔ (last edited Jan 05, 2018 06:24PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane S ☔ I'm at 75% too. This book I suppose has a an important message but I sometimes feel she goes a little too far in the lecturing. I do like the story though I still wish there was an upturn in tone. Lise, your country is not the only country where the debate on refugees varies wildly. The governments never speak for all the people, but I am surprised at the amount of people in my country feel this way, based on our current administration and Scrotus being voted in. I remember a quote from a book I read where it said when this President was voted in all the ugly came out. Such a complicated issue, she is showing many different sides to this very inflammatory issue. Seems like our favorite character has some secrets, things he is withholding.

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Esil I’m just a bit past 75%. I still feel that the political message is a bit heavy handed, especially the suggestion of a general negative attitude towards refugees. But I do like Many aspects of the story. I continue to like Mandiyan’s storyline and Priya is growing on me. Everyone’s story is more complicated than it seems. People in situations of war make hard choices, and it’s hard to know how those choices would affect their behaviour in a safer context. It’s certainly thought provoking.

Angela M We didn’t go out last night . I felt badly missing my sister’s birthday dinner but the visibility was so poor , we didn’t want to take a chance. I’ll have to make it up to her.

I finished the book and will end up 3.5 but will round up to 4. I thought it was an important story reflecting on an issue that is front and center right now . 3.5 because it took me to about halfway to connect with Priya and Grace’s narrative. Once I did I definitely saw the relevance to Mahindan’s and the other refugee’s stories .

Lise, I definitely agree that when people are desperate to survive their actions are a result of that desperation. You certainly have a better view on how the politics plays out here but I think the way it was portrayed here whether true to what really happened illustrates that the politics come into play.
I found this to be emotional at times and no matter what Mahindan did , I still was on his side. I liked that Priya grew and I’m not sure if Grace really did . A little disappointed in the end not knowing what happens at Mahindan’s hearing.

Overall , not a perfect book , but relevant and thought provoking. I think I just wrote a good part of my review- lol.

message 16: by Esil (new) - added it

Esil I just finished The Boat People. It’s hard not to be a bit disappointed by the end, and not knowing what happens to Mahindan and his son. I’m going to think about my review for a bit, but I think I’m going to land on 3.5 stars. I think she did an excellent job of showing the complicated circumstances that people come from and liked some of the characters and their stories. In fact, with the exception of Grace, it seemed that she made the characters more complex as the book progressed. But the depiction of Grace, Fred Blair and the hearing process still irk me. I felt that this aspect of the story was too simplistic. Looking at the author’s notes at the end, it does look like she relied on few sources for this aspect of the book. But I’m still glad I read it the aspects I liked.

Angela — I’m quite jealous to hear that you are off to Florida for a month. This definitely seems like a good year to get away from the cold.

I’m happy to read Strraying and to start on February 5th. It is also a very short book. Any chance you would want to read The Immortalists after?

Keep warm. I hope you’re both feeling better and I’m looking forward to your final thoughts on The Boat People.

Diane S ☔ Can't wait until tomorrow warm up. Sounds like you did the right thing staying in, Angela. Won't finish until later today. Need to go get some groceries in and want to watch the wild cards games. Will be reading it in-between them. Your rating though, sounds the same as what I have been thinking.

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Esil It looks like we were all typing at once! Lol

Angela M Great minds as they say ....

The Immortalists works for me .

Angela M My review:

Thanks again for a good discussion!

Diane S ☔ I have finished but won't write my review until later or maybe tomorrow. I like that Priya decided to stay and resolve the cases of the people she started with. I like to think that Grace will at last show mercy so that father and son can be reunited. At least based on the last conversation with her mother, I like to hope so. Maybe the author is leaving their fate up to us?

Angela M I think she does leave it up to the reader . I felt so invested in Mahindan and Sellian and really wanted to know what happened. I’m wasn’t totally convinced that Grace would show some mercy and we are left wondering if her mother had any influence .

Looking forward to your review, Diane .

Diane S ☔ My review

I actually read the first part of the Immortalists and put it aside. This first part is chock full of graphic description of make on male sex, some quite crude. Will be willing to pick up again as I am through that part, at the time I was a bit disgusted and not in the mood. The rest of the book is supposed to be very good, or so I've heard.

Angela M I think I read that in a review. If it’s disgusting, I may want to skip it .

How about Straying even though it’s short? Would Feb 5th be good to start ? We will be arriving in Florida on the Ist .

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Esil Straying definitely works for me. I was suggesting adding The Immortalists. Why don’t we decide whether we want a second book and which one closer to the day. I’m happy to start Feb 5.

Angela M I’d be happy to go with one book since I’ll be away.

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