Reviews

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 The Labyrinth of My Life        Chasing a Boomerang


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.


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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



Reviwed By: Dishni Golkotuwa Yasamana

"We open a window and let someone peek through.. for another, we open a door. Few are welcome to stay for long-haul, while others just past by. Most of the time, we keep many of the rooms closed and well guarded “

Dear Kay , for me , reading your novel was like having a chat with one of my best friend’s while walking to the Labyrinth. Felt so familiar.. sincere and honest..



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!  



Reviewed By: Author & Poet Subhashini Jayatilake


'Chasing a Boomerang', is a book that I have had since the day of its launch in May this year. I was fortunate enough to witness the grand launch of a grand novel from an author of our own!

Young Issy embarks on a journey by herself, miles away from her motherland!!! 

Her love for her Atthamma who loved her unconditionally was explained throughout the novel in pretty much each chapter, Kay has done it with great finesse, only a talented author like herself possibly could do that! I can't imagine how challenging it is to tackle two cultures in one novel and by looking at them from different perspectives!

The author has carefully used her vocabulary to show both sides of Issy, how innocent she is at the same time how strong a woman can be when needed!

This is just the second book of the author, and getting better at what she is doing! Cannot simply wait to read the next!

Well done again and all the very best for the 3rd in the making

November 2023.


Reviewed By: Janika Fernando


Your book truly touched my heart and left a lasting impression on me.

I was particularly moved by the way you portrayed Ishani’s journey as an immigrant in Australia and her experiences navigating the complexities of her relationships with her love interests. The way you crafted one man as a deeply flawed character, shaped by a history of abuse and violence, truly highlighted the struggles that women face when trying to leave abusive relationships. Even more exacerbated when considering her position as a young immigrant all alone in Sydney, Australia. I could feel Ishani’s yearning for love and her determination to break free from the cycle of pain through the dialogue and sensory imagery. It was a raw and powerful depiction that resonated with me deeply.

 

 On the other hand, the character of the Australian man, felt incredibly authentic. From his voice to his appearance, you brought him to life in a way that captured the good-hearted qualities of Australians and their less judgemental nature. His presence in Ishani’s life showcased the potential for a different kind of love and relationship, filled with understanding and acceptance.

 

The ending, where Ishani found love and happiness, was both beautiful and poignant. It left me with a sense of hope and reminded me of the significance of resilience and never giving up one’s dreams. The symbolism of the boomerang throughout the story added an extra layer of depth and inspiration and created a circular narrative, leaving a lasting impact. I am truly grateful for the emotions your book evoked in me and the thought-provoking themes it explored. Your storytelling abilities are exceptional, and your ability to craft relatable and complex characters is admirable. It was nice to also position the story in familiar places around Sydney, making it easy to imagine and relatable.

 

Thank you, Kay Alahakoon, for sharing this remarkable novel with the world. It must have not been easy to write a novel of the immigrant experience, whilst also incorporating elements of romance without cliché’s but you have done amazing. Your work has touched the hearts of young writers like me.


June 2023


Reviewed By: Author & Poet Professor Anne Benjamin


When readers open a book and begin to read, they do so with the expectation that the author will deliver on the promise contained in the title and the book’s description. On the back cover of her new novel, Chasing a Boomerang, Kay Alahakoon promises readers a story about “a young woman’s self-discovery of love and happiness”. And through the 300-plus pages of ups and downs, highs and lows, following the journey of her very believable heroine, Ishi, I believe she has done just that.

 

The author has created a very likeable and, like all of us, flawed heroine. Ishi engaged me through my reading, and it is probably a measure of her realistic portrayal, that at times I wanted to shake her, although I sense it would not have made any difference if I had. She had a path to follow and she needed to make her discoveries for herself. And she does indeed discover love and happiness as the author promised. More than that, the journey which leads her to that love and happiness, is Ishi’s journey of self-discovery. This occurs in every aspect of her life – academics, self-confidence, emotion, relationships, morality, culture and the delights of physical intimacy.

 

Several themes form the ambiance for this process of self-discovery. The first and most obvious is the theme of the newcomer or outsider: Ishi finds herself in what is to her the completely new culture that is contemporary Sydney, a situation she hadn’t really chosen for herself, while carrying the mores, expectations and memories from the radically different culture of her home in Sri Lanka. The author gives detailed attention to all the confronting sights, smells, tastes and sounds of this encounter in a very sympathetic way.

 

However, Ishi is not the only outsider: two of the three people who would become her closest friends themselves carry elements of being excluded from family and are solitary except for the friendship that has become their way of mutual support. The book explores sympathetically the struggles of young people on their own, studying, working and making ends meet on limited funds; the tightrope existence of recovering from the past.

 

A second theme underneath the surface is that of secrets: not only Ishi, but others whom she becomes close to have their secrets as well. And it is only when these secrets are shared that each one moves to a new level in their lives. For most, the shared secrets bring them closer into friendship and happiness; for some, the unveiling of secrets leads to catastrophe.

 

The third underlying theme I would like to highlight is that of domestic violence and the inability of people to walk away from an abusive relationship. For me, this became a major theme. To those who have never experienced such abuse, the persistence of an abused person (often a woman) to stay with her abuser is a conundrum. In her book, the author doesn’t shy away from this; she resists the temptation to create a quick fix for the parties involved. And I congratulate her for that.

 

Chasing the Boomerang is essentially a story about human values and about young men and women who live out very positive human values of compassion, loyalty, honesty and integrity. It is a story about escaping from the chains of illusion that can keep any of us in an abusive situation; it is about a young woman’s courageous struggle against many odds pitted against her; it is about finding love and belonging in friendship and intimacy; and it is about the love of a grandmother who guides Ishi through it all. Throughout the whole book, Kay Alakahoon has given Ishi a distinctive voice which rings consistently through the pages.

 

Blacktown, 27th May 2023

 

Reviewed By: Reviewed By: K.C.Finn

In this charming and heartfelt tale about a displaced young woman trying to carve a new life for herself in a strange land, we first meet Ishani Gamage at the airport, embarking on connecting flights to leave Sri Lanka and eventually ending up in Sydney. Grieving a sudden and tragic loss, Ishani finds Aussie culture to be a short sharp shock, but her new life as Issy is all she has. Until a new man arrives in her life, and Issy wonders if he’s really worth all the chasing.


Author Kay Alahakoon has crafted a novel that is both charming and uplifting in the strength of its main character but also harrowing and poignant in the bigger picture it paints for the millions of displaced people around the world who have to rebuild their lives when fleeing from violence. There were so many scenes of culture shock for Issy, from learning about weddings and relationships to sharing her food and values with those that she meets. Her relationship with MMC was well played to explore the complexities between the beliefs and expectations that Issy grew up with versus MMC’s easy-going nature. I really enjoyed the nontraditional ways in which they found connections and didn’t try to change one another once they’d discovered the other person’s authentic self. Overall, Chasing A Boomerang is a highly engaging read that fans of cross-cultural romance and realistic drama are sure to love.



Reviewed By: Reviewed By: Rabia Tanveer

Chasing a Boomerang by Kay Alahakoon is the story of Ishani Gamage as she learns to live with the decisions made by fate. The story opens with Ishani at the airport ready to get out of Colombo and into a new, strange place. Her final destination is Sydney, Australia where she will attempt to restart her life away from her dreams, family, and her first love Mahesh. She has no other choice

but to let go of her identity as Ishani and become Issy who is a little hesitant to open up, reluctant to hope, and has a heart locked behind closed doors.

Not everyone can have happy endings, and our protagonist Issy knows that. I love that she is so self-aware and she doesn’t need any psychoanalysis from me. Issy knows her flaws and her shortcomings, and she also knows the best assets in her life. It is because of this that she is so reluctant to fall in love again.

Kay Alahakoon makes sure we are fully invested in Issy and her feelings from the moment the story begins. It is almost a coming-of-age story of Issy as she learns to become a stronger and more complete person as she chases happiness to find love. Chasing a Boomerang is a must-read.