After her father leaves, Shruti will do anything to make her mother happy. But when her great-uncle insists that her mother re-marries, Shruti’s problems are just beginning. When her mother leaves for India, Shruti ends up in the foster system.
Her friend, Meeka, appears to be the only one who understands, and Shruti will do anything to ensure they remain friends, even following Meeka to university.
That friendship comes at a cost though. One that results in Shruti imprisoned on a desert island, used by Meeka’s boyfriend and with no way home.
Was her friendship with Meeka worth the suffering?
Author: Gabriel Packard
Title: The Painted Ocean
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK
Oh. My. Word! I’m ending the year with a book that played with my emotions…for all the wrong reasons!! When I wasn’t literally cringing at The Painted Ocean, I was laughing over the absurdity of the plot and grimacing at how annoying both the characters and writing were.
The plot is insane. I thought I was getting a story about cultural differences and the importance of family. Instead, Shruti’s mum leaves her, after she and Meeka burn down her uncle’s shop.
Then she books tickets for her and Meeka to go to New Zealand. Meeka doesn’t go and Shruti goes on the wrong passport.
Meeka calls her…and the next thing you know, she’s trapped as a slave on an island with Meeka and her boyfriend, who rapes Shruti daily.
A chance visitor means Shruti steals their boat, sails the whole way around the world on her own, winning over pirates and bandits along the way and comes home to become, basically, a millionaire.
What on earth?
The trouble was, the writing irritated me. The first thing I remember learning in school is don’t start a sentence with “and”. The Painted Ocean starts practically every sentence with it. The word “because” never features, as “cos” takes its place. Every. Single. Time.
The final thing that literally made me cringe is the word “like”. Rather than saying “I said”, Packard uses “I’m like,” the entire way through the book. At first, I thought it would help me connect with Shruti as she was a young girl. But then she grows up and it just becomes annoying.
Towards the end of the book, Shruti tries to become a writer to recount her experiences. The writing group shoot her down, especially in regards to the portrayal of Shruti’s character. But that could be the writer talking, as I never once connected or empathised with Shruti, despite the ordeals she went through.
The Painted Ocean was a disappointment. It was far-fetched and absurd in regards to what the character survived, without the emotional impact you would expect from someone being treated as a slave.
I’m sorry to say it, but one to avoid!