Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading The Shade Of The Mango Tree by Evy Journey
This book was not as I expected from the blurb. I did enjoy much of it, even though I was expecting to read about human relationships in general, travel, adventures in and the cultures of countries far away; however, this aspect of it does not start until Part 5, at 72% in the Kindle version. For the most part, this book is a romance.
Luna and Lucien are two rather humourless, intense young people, both so introspective that I felt the powerful love between them was more about seeing a reflection of themselves in each other. They meet because Luna leaves her journal in a café they both frequent, and Lucien finds and reads it. I liked the beginning of the book, when Luna is young and spends her summers with her beloved grandmother in Hawaii; this came alive for me, making me feel nostalgic for a place I had never been to, which is always a good sign. The grandmother was lovely, and I enjoyed reading about the life there. As Luna grows older, falls in love for the first time and discovers secrets about her family, her naïveté is a little irritating, and I found Lucien’s obsession with her and her journal a little creepy.
I could easily have skipped the drawn-out detail about their love affair to get to by far the most interesting part of the book: Luna’s experiences in Cambodia. I had limited knowledge about this country, and what I read made me want to find out more, so this certainly ticked a box.
As for the writing itself, it flows very well, and the author writes nicely, though I found the dialogue rather unrealistic, particularly between Luna and Lucien. Much of the book is written in journal entry and letters between the two main characters, a structure I like, and alternates between their two points of view. I found the main characters too bland to care much what happened between or to them, but this is only personal taste; other readers may see this story as a beautiful romance. Had there been more about Hawaii and Cambodia and less about Lucien and Luna’s self-absorption, I might have loved it.
After two heartbreaking losses, Luna wants adventure. Something and somewhere very different from the affluent, sheltered home in California and Hawaii where she grew up. An adventure in which she can also make some difference. She travels to a foreign place where she gets more than she bargained for.
Lucien, a worldly, well-traveled young architect, finds a stranger’s journal at a café. He has qualms and pangs of guilt about reading it. But they don’t stop him. His decision to go on reading changes his life.
Months later, Luna and Lucien meet at a bookstore where Luna works and which Lucien frequents. Still hurting from her losses, Luna finds solace in Lucien’s company and his tales of world travel.
Inspired by Lucien, she goes to Cambodia. What she goes through in one of its rice-growing villages defies anything she could have imagined.
An epistolary tale of courage, love and loss, and the bonds that bring diverse people together.