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Written on: 27/01/2004 by Harriet Klausner (18660 reviews written)


Yann Martel

Harcourt, May 2002, $25.00, 319 pp.

ISBN: 0151008116

In Pondicherry, India, Piscine "Pi" Patel enjoys his childhood as the son of the local zoo keeper means plenty of fun things to do. In that role, Pi learns a great deal about the wild beasts that his father keeps. Though a Hindu, Pi also finds pleasure in learning about Christianity and Islam and willingly practices the three belief systems over the objections of his family and religious leaders.

Now sixteen, Pi's father decides to relocate to Canada. His dad sells most of the animals, but takes a few with them on their sea voyage. However, disaster strikes with the ship sinking. Pi accompanied by a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra and Richard Parker the 450-pound Bengal share a raft. Richard eliminates the other animals leaving the raft to Pi and him. With water everywhere and no land in sight, Pi will have to use everything he knows about tigers to stay alive. If he makes it to land, Pi wonders whether to tell the truth about his harrowing adventure or make up something more comfortable for the authorities.

THE LIFE OF PI uses incredible images to provide readers with a powerful well-written allegory about life and religion. Pi is an intriguing lead protagonist, but must share top billing with his ocean traveling crony the fascinating Richard the tiger hearted. Yann Martel's story line is extremely deep yet quite simple as if Rudyard Kipling wrote The Old Man and the Sea.

Harriet Klausner

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