Published: August 11, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Goodreads First Reads Program
Recommended for readers looking for books about different cultures
By the banks of the River Yamuna in northern India, where rice paddies of basmati merge into fields of sugarcane, twelve-year-old Madan lives with his impoverished family in the town of Gorapur. Madan's father works for Avtaar Singh, a powerful and controlling man who owns the largest factory in town and much of the land around it. Madan's sharp mind and hardened determination catch Avtaar Singh's attention. When Madan’s father's misdeeds jeopardize his sister's life, Madan strikes his first bargain with Avtaar Singh to save her. Drawn into Avtaar Singh's violent world, Madan becomes his son in every way but by blood. Suddenly it looks as if everything will change for Madan and his family until a forbidden love affair has brutal consequences and he is forced to leave behind all that is dear to him. On his journey toward redemption, Madan will have to bargain, once, twice, three times for his life and for the lives of those he loves.
This was an interesting book to read and a somewhat difficult book to review. It was an engrossing story and kept my attention from the first page. However, I can't say that I always enjoyed reading it. But, then again, I don't believe that the author meant for this book to be enjoyable.
Madan is an interesting character--he almost strikes me as being Dickensian. He's very dynamic as he coasts the arc of this rags to riches to rags to riches to....(I'm not going to tell you how it ends up!). I didn't find any of the other characters in this book to be as faceted as he is. However, for the most part, that is fine. The only character I wish did have more depth was that of Avtaar Singh, who seemed just a bit too mysterious for me.
This book came touted as being along the lines of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner. While I believe that Three Bargains is in that vein, I wouldn't say it is quite up to the level of The Kite Runner. Like Hosseini's book, there are some truly violent and hard to read to read scenes in this book (although I found the scenes in The Kite Runner to be harder to stomach). However, it doesn't seem to have the same urgency as The Kite Runner.
This is definitely a book I'm glad I read and I would recommend it to some readers--specifically to those with an interest in books from different cultures and who can stomach a fair amount of violence and profanity. This would also be an excellent selection for a book club as there is much to discuss in it.
I won a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program. I was encouraged, but not required, to write and post an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.