Author: Thrity Umrigar
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: The author’s beautiful writing made me experience the character’s emotions very deeply, but the emotional impact of the ending was weak compared to the rest of the book.
Psychologist Maggie has always been willing to try unorthodox methods and has become known for her ability to help in tough cases. When she is asked to help Lakshmi, an isolated Indian immigrant who tried to commit suicide, it is clear that unorthodox methods are called for. Lakshmi understand therapy to mean making friends with Maggie and Maggie relates to Lakshmi too much to maintain her usual distance. As these two very different women learn each other’s biggest mistakes, their differing backgrounds and expectations of their relationship will threaten their friendship, making it hard for them to forgive one another.
The first chapter is from Lakshmi’s perspective and in her own limited English. Initially I felt certain this writing style was going to distract me and pull me out of the story, but I slowly grew to love it. Lakshmi’s language abilities gave me a much greater understanding of the confusion and isolation she was feeling. I read the first half of the book with a lump in my throat, wanting to cry for Lakshmi’s loneliness. I’ve read many emotional books and books which have made me cry, but very few that have made me feel for a character the way this book did. I felt less emotionally connected to Maggie than Lakshmi, but she also seemed very real. I was incredibly impressed by Thrity Umrigar’s ability to write two completely different perspectives and make both believable.
After the emotional intensity of Lakshmi’s story, the ending was a bit of a let down. The focus of the story shifted to Maggie, who I found less sympathetic. I wasn’t quote convinced by the way the characters’ relationships changed and I found some of their choices very strange. I also expected the ending to be hugely emotional, the climax of this deeply emotional book. Instead, as with Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, we’re left hanging. Everything seems to be headed in the right direction, we’ve just reached the stage where there’s some room for optimism and the book ends! As I said in my review of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, I’m sure these open-ended conclusions work for some people. Personally, I’ve become more comfortable with ambiguous endings, but in these two books, I felt as though the stories deserved epic endings and instead they trailed off without a conclusion.
Do you like books where the author uses different dialects or writes in a way that reflects her characters’ language abilities? Or do you find that this distracts you from the story?