Friday, April 4, 2008
Appropriately enough for a book about math, Gifted by Nikita Lalwani is more than the sum of its parts. It is the story of a math prodigy, a coming-of-age novel, and a look at immigrant life. But it all comes together in a way that is so interesting, so satisfying, that it is a truly great novel of general appeal. The heroine, Rumi Vasi, is the “gifted” young daughter of Indian parents living in Wales. Driven by her parents to excel in mathematics, Rumi achieves their highest hope for her – acceptance at Oxford University when she is 15. Lalwani masterfully captures the awkwardness and inner turmoil of this out-of-place adolescent. Lawani’s writing is remarkably polished for a first novel. Her language does not get in the way of the story, either by being distractingly beautiful or stumblingly clunky. The words flow so naturally you do not notice them, allowing the story to unfold with natural grace, right up to the suitably dramatic ending with its hope of positive resolution.