Reviewed By: Jennifer Ibiam
The Labyrinth of My Life by Kay Alahakoon is a Sri Lanka-based story set between the 1980s and 1990s. Holidays were always fun for Saku because she would travel down from Kandy to visit her family. But this time, it was a double reunion as the past came calling. The Seneges were back with their son, Niranga, after a decade of living in Australia. Niranga and Saku were childhood friends, thick as thieves, and created a strong bond between their families. When Niranga tried to rekindle their relationship, Saku refused. She still nursed the hurt from over a decade ago, among other reasons. Or did she misunderstand? With parents wishing, friends waiting, a stubborn damsel, and a confident prince, what will it be? Will Saku continue to self-sabotage?
The Labyrinth of My Life by Kay Alahakoon is a beautiful novel centered on family, culture, self-discovery, and romance. I loved the unique storyline and brilliant plot, for they had depth. The writing style and character development were also stellar. I felt Kay could write an independent story about each character because they were fleshed-out, consistent, and memorable. Saku was a walking contradiction, and it was exhausting. However, her flawed nature, plus many redeeming qualities, made the character lively and realistic. This novel was such a wholesome read. Please, write more, Kay.
Reviewed By: Sushini Illankone, Australia, March 2023
The Labyrinth of My Life by Kay Alahakoon, is an absolute favourite of mine.
Set amidst the breathtaking hill country of Sri Lanka, this gentle romance is a refreshingly delightful page turner. Kay’s lyrically beautiful language creates vivid tangible images, capturing the very essence of Sri Lankan culture, it’s people and the way of life.
For me personally, it took me on a nostalgic journey back to the days of my childhood, in Sri Lanka.
I found the story line simple, yet unique. There are no villains or extreme plot twists here. what captivated me and kept me spellbound, was the beautiful writing style, the poetic descriptions of the landscapes and the realistic characters relatable to us all.
Saku is not the typical sweet lovable heroine that you often come across in most novels. Instead, I found her to be realistic and relatable as an ordinary young woman who is tackling the complexities of life across family, friendship, career and love. She is independent, feisty and stubborn, yet, fiercely dutiful to those whom she cares about and vulnerable in her commitment to love. By creating this fine balance between Saku’s strengths and flaws, Kay cleverly draws the reader towards her innermost self, to love her for who she is.
This Brilliant Debut is a true treasure that definitely belongs in the Unputdownable book category. Kay, you are incredibly talented. Please keep writing, for I am your number one fan. Can’t wait to read your next novel.
Submit your review now
Reviewed By: Murray Fane, Australia, Aug 2022
I finished your book a couple of weeks ago – I started as soon as my play finished and think I read all through within a week because I wanted to know what happened!
Once I got used to everyone having a zillion names – honestly what is it with names and nicknames in Sri Lanka! – I really got into the characters and wanted to know what was going to happen.
It was a wonderful gentle read, slowly working through the complexities of all the relationships. Although a guy, I had no problems with the romantic nature of the story, and enjoyed seeing it play out gently. But being a western guy I sometimes wanted to throttle Saku – “for God’s sake just tell him!!!!”. Seriously though I loved the way she fought with her feelings and culture to come to the right answer.
Many stories these days fall the same old same old predictable formula with goodies and baddies messing people up. Your story was not like that. For example when the money was stolen I really expected that to become a main theme. However, it was downplayed beautifully, having made its point, and then allowed the story to move on.
Honestly, Kay, your writing is sublime. The way you describe places, thoughts, emotions and actions was beautiful. Often, and I mean often, I stopped to reread and admire a descriptive paragraph; the way you describe things is almost poetry! I would grab one of my family members and say “listen to the way she has written this - isn’t it amazing.” And they always agreed.
Then the characters - wow. I think it is so easy for an author to imprint their personality on every character – a room full of the same person saying the same things to themselves. However, with your story each one was very much his or her own person. When they spoke or thought, their feelings and personality came through in the way that person would say it, and only that person. I really enjoyed ‘meeting’ them individually. I could picture each in my own mind, with the way they looked, walked and spoke. They became my short-term friends.
So I really loved the story from start to end, and of course the ending we all wanted. Bravo, well done, it’s a hit (at leats in my eyes)
Reviewed By: Tracy, Australia, May 2022
The Labyrinth of My Life was the first Sri Lankan based novel I have read, and I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to read Kay’s next novel. Kay managed to write a novel that was full of twists and turns that kept me entranced and longing to keep reading.
Following Saku’s journey from a teen to young adult gave a wonderful glimpse into life in Sri Lanka, the challenges between regional and city life, generational changes were depicted beautifully. The way Kay writes has such depth I was able to create my own visual of Saku and Niranga’s family and friends along with the landscape to the point it was like a I was immersed in the story as an invisible spectator.
This book is so much more than a romance novel it is a fantastically written novel of multi-generational differences, culture, love, learning who you are. The storyline will leave you craving for the next chapter right to the very end.
Reviewed By: Shiroza Nadheem , New Zealand , 2022
I so love how you are taking us through Nuwara Eliya's mystical tea plantations. Our beloved Kandy city and many other cherished memories. Thank you so much for taking me back to those beautiful days with your narrations. As in my case "The labyrinth of my life" is a wonderful journey of nostalgia". Must mention how I loved the way you have included our Sri Lankan words, culture etc. Please do keep doing that in your future novels too. That was quite refreshing. And guess what, I am reading the book for the second time. 😊😊❤❤👌👍✌️✌️ Strangly, I was beginning to miss Saku and Niranga. Trust me, getting me to read the same novel twice over and that too soon after me finishing it for the first time is quite a challenge !!! I never do that. well what do you know.... You've done it !!! My dearest Kay my heartiest wishes on your journey as an author. Can't wait to read your next one.... Please don't take too long... Cheers !!! Shiro.
Reviewed By: Mads Davidson, Australia, 2022
Not knowing Sri Lanka I was slightly hesitant when picking up this novel. How wrong was I to be! Kay’s descriptive writing made the culture and country so tangible. An easy romantic read of the like of Saku as she blooms into womanhood full of courage and tenacity - Highly recommended! Looking forward to the next novel from this author!
Reviewed By: Nimali Dharmawansa , Singapore, 2022
I had to wait for months for my very own copy of ‘The Labyrinth of My Life’ and once I had it, I couldn’t stop reading. This novel took me back to Nuwara Eliya and its cold and misty wonders. I love the character Sakunthala (Saku) and every struggle and fight she faces, and how Kay has made each character come to life. Well done Kay Alahakoon on your first adventure, hoping to see more….
Reviewed By: Dharshini Goonetilleke, United States,2022
In this delightful and sweet romantic story, Kay’s brilliance as a maiden published author gleams in unpredicted ways. The Labyrinth of My Life showcases the story of a woman just entering adulthood navigating its ins and outs. The protagonist Saku fearlessly takes the world on with its pits, falls, highs and lows as she discovers herself throughout her innate vivacity. The narration is smooth, eloquent, and transitions seamlessly as the author brings the complexities of life, its different shades, and roles to life through diverse characters sophisticated
Reviewed By: Pikasho Deka ,2021
The Labyrinth of My Life by Kay Alahakoon is a slice-of-life romance novel set in Sri Lanka that follows the story of Sakunthala (Saku), a young university lecturer trapped between modern ideologies and her traditionally conservative family. Saku's humdrum life takes an unexpected turn with the return of her childhood friend, Niranga, now a handsome ladies' man with a successful career. Saku struggles to find it in herself to forgive him as she has a misplaced grudge because Niranga had a fling with her sister when they were teenagers, a fact that may or may not be true. Complicating matters further is her current boyfriend, Sula, her business partner and one of her closest friends. Can Saku learn to let go and listen to her heart?
Author Kay Alahakoon touches upon some serious issues in this contemporary romance tale, briefly examining the significance of topics that are still considered taboo in mainstream Sri Lankan society, such as same-sex relationships, abortion, and fornication. The Labyrinth of My Life showcases how sometimes people are their own worst enemies as their self-destructive behavior threatens to destroy their most important relationships. This is a character-driven story, and as such, the pacing is deliberately slow. The characters are well-developed, and the author does a commendable job of immersing the reader in Sri Lankan culture. Saku and Niranga's relationship forms the bedrock of the narrative. The way their dynamic evolves throughout the story was one of the highlights of the book. Recommended to fans of romance.
Reviewed By: Thushani, USA,2021
Set in Sri Lanka, Kay Alahakoon's 'The Labyrinth of My Life' charts a young woman's journey towards self discovery. The author's key strength is drawing characters that are both well rounded and believable. The world we find Sakuntala in is populated by realistic and interesting people who hold the reader's interest regardless of the importance of their part in the main narrative. One cannot help but wonder whether Jeevani was able to escape her grim existence; if Sula found happiness in his escape and what fate awaited the union of Saman and Amali. Kay is able to hold the reader's curiosity with unexpected twists and the sense of mystery that is woven into Sakuntala's passage to self realization.
Reviewed By: Shrabastee Chakraborty, 2021
The Labyrinth of My Life, author Kay Alahakoon’s debut novel, narrates Sakunthala’s story. As an accomplished, independent woman in her late twenties, Saku puts her family’s wellbeing before her own. She spends her days juggling three jobs, keeping their tour agency afloat, and shuttling between her workplace and family home. However, the sudden arrival of Niranga, her neighbor, childhood best friend, and old flame throws her life off course. Although they used to be inseparable in the past, Saku is now determined to keep him at a distance. Yet, she cannot deny the pull Niranga has on her, nor can she overlook his gentle charm and caring personality. What is the reason behind Saku’s feigned disinterest? Can she keep avoiding her childhood love forever, especially when he is bent on winning her back?
Although the novel belongs primarily to the romance genre, it has so much more to offer! kay Alahakoon’s authentic portrayal of the rich Sri Lankan culture made the read worthwhile. As an Indian girl close to Sakunthala’s age, I could relate to her struggles to balance her career and her family. I rooted for Saku and wanted to assure her that her insecurities were baseless. While reading, the similarities in our cultures and family values made me feel at home. As for the romantic aspect, there were no mushy romantic gestures, nor did the novel go for explicit scenes. The complicated feelings and past baggage of the principal characters dominated their emotions. Alahakoon perfectly captured their dilemma in her writing. Boasting a swoon-worthy hero and a strong-minded heroine, The Labyrinth of My Life would be a treat for romance lovers!