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Everything Was Good-bye by Gurjinder Basran
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Everything Was Good-bye (edition 2012)

by Gurjinder Basran

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7526160,370 (3.93)4
Member:CeeAnne
Title:Everything Was Good-bye
Authors:Gurjinder Basran
Info:Pintail (2012), Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Everything Was Good-Bye by Gurjinder Basran

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After reading A Passage to India by E. M. Forster, it is interesting to move forward 90 years in fictional time and read a novel of the current Indian culture. A connection between the novels of Forster and Basran is the focus on development of love in the characters. Forster indicated that part of the reason he stopped writing fiction is all novels focus on love stories and there is only so much that can be written about them that is interesting and new.

In Everything Was Goodbye, Meena is a young contemporary girl of Indian heritage living in North Delta, a suburb just outside of Vancouver in the early 1990s. Her family had immigrated to Canada from England where her father, a professional in England, was a construction worker. Sixteen years earlier, her father died in a construction accident leaving Meena's mother to raise six daughters on very little money. The woman has traditional Indian values and works two jobs to makes ends meet. She still grieves the loss of her husband in formal Indian tradition. She teaches her daughters that everything is memory for Indian people living in a foreign land.

At the beginning of the story, Meena struggles with teenage adjustment problems made more difficult by direct and indirect racial discrimination. She tries to satisfy the expectations of both her community of expatriate Indian families and her white Canadian upper middle class schoolmates. Meena remains partially committed to each group but is smart enough to work hard to maintain her grades in school and perform her family roles in support of her mother.

Meena maintains her life in limbo for years, without making a complete commitment to develop as an Indian person or as Canadian citizen. After completing college majoring in English, she gives up her hopes of becoming a writer and takes an entry level job in "communications." At 24, Meena's mother indicates it is time for an Indian woman to marry and have children. The necessity of Meena to make choices that will determine her life path shows her that she has already missed important opportunities for personal development and fulfillment. For example, up to this point, she had not tried realistically to reach her goals of being a writer. Also, she had not seriously explored her love relationships that included: Liam, a free spirited "white" male she has known from early school experiences, Kal a young steadfast Indian man related to her extended family, and Sunny an Indian man chosen for her to marry because of his traditional Indian social ties and his successful career in Canada.

Meena's occupation in communications and her interaction with her three love interests are the focus of the last three parts of the novel. The consequences of failure to make difficult decisions illustrate the difficulties first generation immigrants face when they try to preserve their heritage/world-view while adapting to the demands of their adopted country. The reader will enjoy the simple and direct writing style of Gurjinder Basran, the good structure and time management of the story, and the depiction of the decisions that must be made in career choice and relationships for immigrants to adjust to a new culture and have peace of mind. As Meena's mother described when her daughter was a very young child learning English, her most frequently spoken word was "goodbye." Looking back later in life, Meena will realize that as she matured in Canada, "Everything Was Good-bye."

This is an enjoyable first novel. Gurjinda Basran states that she is writing a new novel, and I look forward to reading it. A challenge is to follow up a coming-of-age love story with a novel that is interesting, fresh, and unique. ( )
  GarySeverance | Mar 12, 2014 |
A book that will sweep you up in the early life and cultural struggles of Meena, the sixth daughter of Indian immigrants who have settled in Vancouver. Meena is both an outcast at her high school and at home, in part because of her friendship with Liam. She graduates from university in PR, and while friends and lover of Kal, does agree to an arranged marriage with Sunny. Basran depicts the emotions of Meena superbly and one can totally empathize with her plight of being torn between two cultures. Wonderful read. ( )
  CarterPJ | Sep 17, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I totally agree with the reviewer comments that appear on the cover of this book, that Basran is "...a writer on the first step to greatness." She writes beautifully and did a terrific job of developing the characters and the cultural milieu. It's been awhile since I was so absorbed in the lives of fictional characters that I finished the book in two sittings. I would strongly recommend this book, particularly to those who have an interest in learning more about the challenges immigrant families face when different generations grow up in different cultural settings. I look forward to future writings by this author and, in the meantime, will go back and reread work by authors who inspired her -- Rohinton Mistry and Jhumpa Lahiri. ( )
  Jcambridge | Jun 8, 2013 |
Beautiful story. The characters were really easy to relate too. Sometimes the cultural references would be a bit confusing, but it was still an enjoyable read. ( )
  Samscar | Jun 5, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Everything was Goodbye by Gurjinder Basran was a wonderful fiction novel about the immigrant experience. Young Meena is a teenage Punjabi-Canadian trying to find her everythingwasgoodbyeplace, in her traditional family and in modern Canadian society in the early ’80s. Loosely based on the author’s life, Meena is the youngest of six sisters raised by her traditional widowed Indian mother, whose job in life is to “successfully” marry off her daughters. Clearly, Meena has a tough road in front of her while she tries to appease her controlling mother and maneuvering her way through normal teenage angst while standing out as a misfit in Canadian culture. Thankfully she finds a partner in crime in fellow misfit and love interest Liam. Winner of the BC Book Prize, Basran has given us us another picture of the immigrant experience, which is always welcome. ( )
  motivatedmomma | May 7, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143186817, Paperback)

THE YOUNGEST OF SIX daughters raised by a widowed mother, Meena is a young woman struggling to find her place in the world. Originally from India, her family still holds on to many old-world customs and traditions that seem stifling to a young North American woman. She knows that the freedom experienced by others is beyond her reach. But unlike her older sisters, Meena refuses to accept a life dictated by tradition. Against her mother’s wishes, she falls for a young man named Liam who asks her to run away with him. Meena must then make a painful choice—one that will lead to stunning and irrevocable consequences.

Heartbreaking and beautiful, Everything Was Good-bye is an unforgettable story about family, love, and loss, and the struggle to live in two different cultural worlds.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:27 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"The youngest of six daughters raised by a widowed mother, Meena is a young woman struggling to find her place in the world. Originally from India, her family still holds on to many old-world customs and traditions that seem stifling to a young North American woman. She knows that the freedom experienced by others is beyond her reach. But unlike her older sisters, Meena refuses to accept a life dictated by tradition. Against her mother's wishes, she falls for a young man named Liam who asks her to run away with him. Meena must then make a painful choice--one that will lead to stunning and irrevocable consequences"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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