What Lies Between Us: A Novel
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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 reinvents herself as an American teenager to survive, with the help of her cousin; 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 only one terrible choice.
From Nayomi Munaweera, 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.
Praise for Island of a Thousand Mirrors:
"The paradisiacal landscapes of Sri Lanka are as astonishing as the barbarity of its revolution, and Munaweera evokes the power of both in a lyrical debut novel worthy of shelving alongside her countryman Michael Ondaatje or her fellow writer of the multigenerational immigrant experience Jhumpa Lahiri." - Publishers Weekly
"The beating heart of Island of a Thousand Mirrors is not so much its human characters but Sri Lanka itself and the vivid, occasionally incandescent, language used to describe this teardrop in the Indian Ocean." - The New York Times Book Review
spindly, and Samson is my very best friend. After school I race to throw off my uniform, kick away my shoes, slip into a housedress and Bata slippers, and escape into the garden. The red hibiscus flower nodding its head, yellow pistil extended like a wiry five-forked snake tongue; the curl of ferns; the overhead squawk of parrots—these are the wonders that welcome me home. Samson speaks to me in Sinhala. He says, “Ah, Baby Madame. Home already? Come!” He swings me onto his shoulders. My thighs
its end. She calls to say, “Yes, it’s good for a girl to have a job, to be able to take care of herself. Good-good.” I can hear Catney Houston purring next to her; the cat is ancient now, half blind and mangy, but still alive, still passionately in love with Amma. My mother goes on. “You’ve done really well … But…” I wait for her to pick up the thread she has left dangling from our last conversation and of course she does, “You need to start thinking about settling down before you get … you
unknown events and us too a part of it all. We sleep and eat. She nurses. Daniel holds me while I hold her and it feels like hibernation or burrowing, like we are a nest of small furry animals—squirrels, perhaps, with our tails wrapped around us for softness and warmth. She lies on my belly. Her small face opens in my hands like a flower. She is fair, almost milky white. Nothing of me in her. She is all his from birth. Later they will say that I didn’t love her, that I had no feelings for her.
about a woman left like this. They spoke of her in whispers; they dropped pity like acid. She had lost her looks overnight, she had stopped eating, she had had to move back into her parents’ house. They had gone to visit and she had seen them and tried to pretend everything was all right. But how could everything be all right? Even back then in girlhood, I knew this was the worst fate, to be left by a man. * * * Daniel calls often. To make sure that I am okay, he says. I realize that his
daddy again. Maybe she is used to disappointment already. Maybe she’s too small yet to know that love can kill. I am calm. The pace of the world is slowed, the traffic is easy. A certain grace fills the air. I unscrew my water bottle, raise it to my lips, and then set it down untouched in the cup holder. I will do this awake. Aware. The morning bursts through the sky with ribbons of pink, catching the world on fire. Sunlight slants across the window, strokes my face like a lover’s hand. On the