Cross-posted at BookReviews at Bookrack
I started this book with high expectations after reading and loving ‘The Weight of Heaven’ by the same author.
The book is set in America, where Tehmina Sethna, still raw after losing her husband, Rustom, has come for a vacation at her son Sorab and American daughter-in-law, Suzanne’s house. Sorab has asked her to relocate to America and live with them. Tehmina is in a qaundry. She is unsure of the path that she ought to take. Bombay has been her home since her wedding and she is not sure if she is willing to give it up and move to a new place. She also has some tussles with Sorab’s son Cookie(Cavas) who claims that he is an ‘all American boy’, when she reminds him that he is ‘half-Indian’. Sorab and his wife, while they want her to live with them , have their own sources of worries. At a time when she needs to make one of her life’s important decision, on her own, her husband’s absence hits home, for her. She was so used to his being around, taking care of things, helping every body mingle. Rustom was as comfortable in America as he was in Bombay. She felt she needed him to make everything bearable, and not having him around was taking a toll on her.
Finally a series of events help her make up her mind.
This book, for me, was quite a disappointment. I felt that the story had a lot of potential, but in a lot of ways, failed to deliver. A lot of clichéd views, how India was great and everything in America is the pits, came across, which I felt was rather judgemental. It almost felt as if Tehmina was the only conscientious person in the place they lived and almost every body else was obsessed with material comforts than with emotions or feelings.. Tehmina reminisces of how people in India are ‘fearless’, in crossing roads, not wearing seat belts while the life in America was sterile and antiseptic. While it could be Tehmina’s views, I felt it reduced the impact of the story for me. There were a lot of stereotyped characters which were either too good to be true or totally black.
I felt ‘The Weight of Heaven’ had much better, much more balanced characters. I did like the way the book explored the emotions that Tehmina, Sorab and Suzanne felt in the various situations in the book. Sorab’s frustrations, Suzanne’s understanding and frustrations with her mother-in-law. Tehmina’s reaction to things, the way she felt that she was unable to mourn her husband properly, her longing for the things that she considers familiar and homely. It was still an interesting read, but I would not give it more than a 2 out of five.