Sunday, June 22, 2014

Wake up and smell the incense...

The World We FoundThe World We Found by Thrity Umrigar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A thought-provoking read. Umrigar's beautiful sentences bring a bustling India to life. The novel starts out in America, however, where Indian ex-pat Armaiti is dying of a brain tumor.  Though she has an ex-husband who still loves her and a daughter who is there for her as well, she finds herself wishing to say goodbye to her almost-sisters, the three girls with whom she went to college thirty years ago. It's as if she must say goodbye to her own truest, deepest self.  This is the baby-boomer generation with an international twist. The book deals with feminism, racism, religion, politics, homophobia, class difference, marriage, and mortality—and yet not in a forced manner—all these are the background of our lives, after all.

We follow the four women and learn their stories, past and present, as their reunion approaches. The idealism and dreams of youth have changed for all four women, and the two men who went to college with them. Questions provoked by this book are: How do we build our lives amidst tragedies and betrayals, small and large? How do we decide what is good and right? What is it that brings us joy? Does love last? How does a man become a wife-abuser? What makes  women bend and break? The title references the adult world they found outside of college, and yet the story makes clear in luminous compassion—the world we get is the world we choose, as well.

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