Unexpected Valentines, by Summerita Rhayne, was billed to be a collection of short stories “to make you believe in love”, but to me they are a collection of essays. This book includes seven “stories” in about 66 pages.
While reading the book, written by an author from India, I found many of the stories to be unrealistic. I don’t mean because they were futuristic or built in some fantasy world, but because they contained events that seemed too unrealistic in our contemporary society. After reading the book I happened to converse about the book with a friend from India and she informed me that much of what I felt was unrealistic was actually because of cultural differences and values. For example in the story “Chained to Shadows” the main characters are Victor and his deceased wife’s sister Amber. He is angry that she survived the car accident in which his wife Sonya died. Sometime after lashing out at her he discovers that Amber saved Sonya’s life when they were younger. Suddenly the reasons he was mad no longer exist and now he is in love with Amber. While this situation still seems far-fetched to me, I understand that I am looking at it from my American lenses. I was told by my friend that people in India act more on emotion.
In the title story, Unexpected Valentines, it was fun to read how fate put the two characters Sanjana and Ranveer together at the point of the party, for them to be reunited again at a later date. I really enjoyed the two stories, The Magic Within and Right or Wrong. These two stories were of marriages on the brink and how both parties had to find a way to recognize the love that still existed between them.
While I don’t often read stories by non-American authors, when I do I enjoy seeing the cultural differences that are often present in the work
-Reviewed by: Selina
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