The title have said it all: A love story set in Singapore.
This novel is written by Low Kay Hwa, a local full time novelist. A Singapore Love Story is his 10th published novel and has reached The Sunday Times Bestsellers list in November 2011. When Kay Hwa approached me to do an unbiased book review, I thought, “Why not? If it’s good I’ll recommend local writers to my readers.”.
Valerie is a Singaporean in an upper-class family—going through primary school, secondary school, a top junior college and eventually university. She follows the route of most Singaporean, having being encouraged by her parents. Unknowingly to her, she is responsible for her parents’ long marriage as well. If not for her, her parents would have divorced long ago due to their different social classes.
Michael is a typical Singaporean “Ah Beng”, and is well-liked by his peers. I’m sure we as Singaporeans have friends who are Ah Beng, and they are one of the friendliest people around. Michael does not care what others think and lives on his own values.
Valerie knows Michael since seven, and they get into a relationship despite their different backgrounds. The plot seeks to ask a question: If reality is there to break them apart, can their love for each other hold them together?
This novel is an easy one to read due to the simple English used in this book and the concise story plot. With the Singaporeans’ “lingo” used in writing the novel, it is therefore better appealing to secondary school students and those who don’t like reading thick books.
However, never belittle the story plot by the simple language used. The concept of having to balance and keep love alive while at the same time, trying to cope with the harsh reality of Singapore – earning well enough to bring home the bacon. As unromantic as it sounds, this is what the reality is.
In Singapore where the cost of living is so high, the concept of love is never really about what the Chinese often says: “有情喝水饱”. It is tough to maintain a relationship when reality crashes in.
This novel is also not one of those stories that ended with a cliched ending – how the couple managed to overcome all obstacles and ended up together, living happily ever after. It ended with a twist at the end and it’s tragic. However, I would like to comment that I don’t like the ending at all. At the later part of the story the male lead, Micheal, died in a freak accident and from then on it somehow became a ghost story.
Half the time I was like, “Wtf? Why it became a ghost story?”
I mean, I can totally accept the fact that the ending is going to be tragic, but this seemed like 2 different genres of stories mixed together which it is, in my opinion, not a clever twist after all.
The author’s concept of afterlife is also what I cannot manage to grasp and accept. It seemed out of place and absurd. I would love the story if it just ended at the part where Micheal died.
Even though it is well concise without losing its theme, I believe this novel also has potential of expanding its story plot in order to create a greater depth and to let the readers get immersed in characters of the story.
Overall, I find that it is a good read for some Singaporean humor but not good enough to be added into my list.
If you would like to give this novel a shot, it can be found in most major bookstores at $17.90.