Book Review by Thilak S. Fernando
Author: Iranganie H. Fernando

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where the knowledge is free ; Where the world is not broken into fragments by narrow domestic walls; Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action, into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake!

Following such noble sayings by Rabindranath Tagore, the author of Patchwork of Dreams Iranganie H. Fernando, has gone into considerable amount of her own intellectual dream world to produce a story embracing both good and evil, reality and fantasy, present and future of Sri Lanka - her own native country- upholding sacred human values with a unique message to everyone (Sri Lankans particularly) that unity in diversity is the recipe for peace and harmony.

The author, in Patchwork of Dreams, concentrates on events taken place in a present day scenario in a sea-side village of Southern Sri Lanka concentrating on a world of children and mothers and a net work of families of different communities and religious backgrounds living together, embroiled in peculiar circumstances and situations. Driving a clear cut message home, the author concentrates much on the young children of today and tomorrow in the Sri Lankan society and emphasises the value of friendship and humankind & living in friendship and harmony irrespective of their races - Sinhala, Tamil, Moslem or international - mingling in their own innocent way free of adult fabricated prejudices.

The author touches on the latest fungus in the Sri Lankan society, the paedophilia, in Chapter 10 - The Plot- where the reader is taken on a graphical tour along the foreign visitors arrival from abroad to Sri Lankan beaches and coral reefs where the foreign paedophile menace has become contagious. The imagination of the author in her description how villagers become curious over the foreign visitors befriending young children with cheap tinsels in the form of bates and how Ratnapala, Jothiya, Somasiri and Ratney walk along the beach keeping an eye on the children and suspicious adults and pimps like Lapaya depict a true to life story taken direct from a scene of Hikkaduwa which has been highlighted in the national newspapers from time to time.

In the Plot Lapayas (Gabo Singho) quiet house arouses the villagers like Somasiri and Ratneys suspicion to find out what kind of business goes on there. Later Lapaya gets exposed involved in an evil trade when Scotland Yard detectives trail behind him, for a period of six month incognito as a German couple, with the help of a team of local police detectives from Colombo, working as holiday makers, and manage to nab him at the end. In this chapter the author highlights the fears of a local community which had been entrapped in a evil world of paedophilia and their anxiety and hard work to root out this malignancy and to live in peace safeguarding their precious children by their own efforts without the help of the State or the Non Governmental Agencies but the camaraderie and the intensive interest of the parents.

The idea put forward on paramount problems in the present day Sri Lankan society can indeed by regarded as a patchwork of her own dreams having witnessed the sufferings undergone by small children who have become victims of an ongoing ethnic war and a paedophile plague aided and created by a set of unscrupulous & avaricious elements by her own experience (being an active member of the NGO of IBBY which has been contributing towards alleviation of some of these evils). Sri Lanka would once again be a wonderful paradise if all such problems ( her patchwork of dreams) get rectified.

The language and the simple English used in the novel running into 142 pages through 24 chapters displays the authors 30 years of experience of teaching English as an additional language in Britain to children from all over the world and her research done in improving reading among young people .. Her first publication was How the farmer went to heaven. Patchwork of dreams is her first full-length novel, which serves as an eye-opener and a positive contributor to the present day problems in Sri Lankan society.

ISBN-955-21-0972-8 UK Price 3 inc.pp