Title: Cereus Blooms at Night
Author: Shani Mootoo
About the Author: Shani Mootoo was born in Ireland but raised in Trinidad. She moved to Canada when she was nineteen and is now a novelist.
Other Books by This Author: Polar Vortex, Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, Valmiki's Daughter, He Drowns in the Sea, The Predicament of Or, and Out on Main Street
Awards: finalist for 1997 Giller Prize
No. of Pages: 270
Original Publishing Year: 1996
Age Rating: 18+, mature content
Positive Review: I liked the allusion to the title in the first sentence of chapter 1. My favorite character was Mala Ramchandin.
Negative Review: I was very uncomfortable and horrified at times. There were details I would have appreciated being left out. I also couldn't get into the story. The writing style just didn't engage me very well as a reader. There were times when I didn't even know who was speaking. I had difficulty keeping track of the speakers as they changed repeatedly. While I would normally appreciate the use of metaphors, the ones Mootoo used didn't enhance the story. They were seemingly just thrown in there. They somewhat worked, but they halted the flow of the novel. Also, none of the characters were relatable to me. I'm disappointed with the ending. I wanted more, and there is definitely more the author could have added. It was a cliffhanger, implying there was more to the story than what Mootoo provided.
Overall Review: This book was raw. It was different from what I usually read but interesting. I prefer stories that flow chronologically, although I don't mind some flashbacks. I preferred when the novel focused on Miss Ramchandin. I found her to be the most interesting character. There was plenty of kinesthetic imagery, but I wish there had been more visual. In the beginning, I liked Tyler, but it later seemed to me that he was just using Miss Ramchandin to make himself feel and look better. I have heard good reviews about this book so I recommend giving it a try. Although I will most likely not be rereading this novel in the future, that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed by others.
Summary: Mala is the reclusive old woman suspected of murder who is delivered to the Paradise Alms House after a judge finds her unfit to stand trial. When she arrives at her new home, frail and mute, she is placed in the tender care of Tyler, a vivacious male nurse, who becomes her unlikely confidante and the storyteller of Mala's extraordinary life. He listens as a witness to the horrors of her childhood.
*Info on author from Wikipedia. Part of summary from goodreads.