Selection Day (★★★☆☆)

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Aravind Adiga   *   Scribner   *   January 3, 2017   *   304 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher through Net Galley.

Selection Day is a coming-of-age story about two talented young brothers, Radha and Manju Kumar, as they train to become professional cricket players. Living in the slums of India with their legit crazy and domineering father, they are desperate to get out. Their cricket skills eventually get noticed by scouters–and then by a rich businessman who offers to sponsor them if they agree to train with a renowned coach (in the hopes that at least one of them will be selected to play on a professional team).

With a little extra cash from the sponsor, life gets better for the family. Their father finally moves them out of the ghetto, and they all begin to live a more middle class lifestyle. But things also get…complicated. Their father gets crazier. The boys’s relationship with each other gets extremely competitive and destructive. Plus, the brothers begin to forge new friendships with others that make them question their devotion to their father, cricket, and each other. In the end, they are forced to decide which relationships are worth fighting for–and if they even want to play cricket at all.

This is a weird book, not gonna lie. I’ve never read anything else by Aravind Adiga, but my understanding is that all of his books are like this:  crazy characters, hard to follow dialogue, and confusing storytelling. Reading this book is definitely an “experience,” but it’s an experience you kind of just have to let happen to you. I struggled to get through those first 100 pages, and only once I stopped obsessing about actually understanding what was going on did I begin to like the book.

Despite my struggle reading it, I probably would have still given the book four stars, but the ending was so disappointing. I don’t know if Adiga was intentionally trying to make this a “road-less-traveled cautionary tale” or something, but it fell so, so flat. I could not have been more disappointed with where the story ended up.

So three stars it is, and no, I won’t read another one by Adiga–Booker Prize winner or not. (Hmmm, I’ve said that before. Maybe Booker Prize winners aren’t for me…)

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