A Beautiful Lie
Author: Irfan Master
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury
UK Release date: January 2011
Genre: YA, MG
Summary: Set in India in 1947, when racial tension was rife and the country was on the verge of dividing, Bilal weaves a web of lies to keep his father safe from the truth of his India at war.
Members of the community become caught up in the lies, helping Bilal as the India he knows falls down around him, irrevocably dividing communities and friends alike.
Review: When Bilal realises that his father is dying, he is dogged about making sure he never discovers just how bad things are getting. His determination and loyalty to his father are endearing and heart wrenching; his guilt about all the lies he must tell make him an even sweeter and more innocent character.
During all his attempts to make sure no one tells his father the truth Bilal has the unswerving help of his friends. Bilal, Manjeet, Chota and Saleem all stand up for each other when fights start and fires are set in the village. It is really sad to see the four friends become separated because of their religious differences and the growing violence in their village.
Seeing the Partition through Bilal’s eyes we watch as his community is torn apart by blind hatred and age-old friends are at war with each other. The violent tension between religious groups builds throughout the story, however the writing maintains a lovely flow and almost rhythmic pace. The rich and vivid descriptions of the village and Indian life help to bring the story alive and make it feel like a real account from 1947.
A Beautiful Lie is not the normal kind of book I would pick up and read due to the real historical elements but it is a powerful and endearing debut story none-the-less about family, friendship, love and religious (in)tolerance.