A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

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Reading Response Journal #1
I chose to read Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance, a story about four very different people living in India during a period of great civil unrest known as The State of Emergency. I found this book incredibly easy to get into because of the way Mistry writes. He seems to create the story around you, placing you in the setting as a viewer, involving you in the lives of the characters. Mistry clearly outlines the political and economic situation of India at the time, further emphasizing the plight of the main characters.

The first thing I noticed about Mistry's writing style is his incredible ability to make you feel like you've actually shifted to another country, another continent even. His descriptive ability allowed me to imagine so many little details in the book, the smell of the street, the loud, boisterous vendors screaming their slogans as pedestrians walk by. You really get to feel as if you are witnessing the events as they unfold. The first part of the book explained the story but then it promptly switched to brief histories of each of the main characters before introducing them to the main plot. Mistry gives you the diverse backgrounds of all the main characters, using his beautifully descriptive language to make even simple things brilliant. The story takes place in an "unnamed City by the Sea" somewhere in India, exploring the lives of four very different people. Mistry creates characters that come from a very different world than I'm used to, making the story all the more interesting for me. Mistry included many cultural references in the story that I looked up so that I knew a little more about the basis of the story. Before I had read this novel I had no knowledge of the State of Emergency (having been born after it took place) so I found reading about it from the perspective of a person experiencing it, very informative.

This first section of the novel displays the interaction of the characters quite differently...
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