(Photo was taken by me.)
I don’t quite know why but I was in yet another book slump. Motivating myself to sit down and just read for kicks was difficult but I pushed myself to do so and I’m honestly glad that I did.
This book was heart-wrenchingly beautiful and painful and I 100% recommend this gem.
First and foremost, I love that it was written from the perspective that is often overlooked in the writing (and desi) community: a gay Sri Lankan woman. Who is a graphic designer to boot! Sindu’s writing style really sucks you in and you can feel the emotional tug-of-war that the character of Lakshmi AKA Lucky (the protagonist) has to face constantly.
One thing I really enjoy about authors when they write about desi characters and situations are the flourishes of words/phrases they’ll use. From the sprinkling of Tamil words to the descriptions of saris and Bharat Natyam dances, it’s all so seamlessly added in this book. I could feel the fabric under my fingers, picture the glittering gems scattered and clustered like stars across the kurtas and saris, and smell the incense that permeated through the temple. Sindu really had a knack for writing descriptions that transport you into the book itself.
And now for the main premise of the book: a young lesbian woman who is married to a gay man so that they can serve as covers for one another in their community. They go about their lives dating their respective girlfriend and boyfriend, until Lucky is forced to go back home for a family emergency and ends up meeting up with her childhood love, Nisha. Who just so happens to be getting married…to a man (who isn’t gay).
This is where the plot starts to thicken. As feelings are rekindled for the one that didn’t necessarily get away but just fell apart, what will Lucky and Nisha do?
What I liked initially was the quiet desperation the two felt for one another. You could tell Lucky still was deeply in love with Nisha. I personally even rooted for her to end up with Nisha. After all, “the bride belongs to the man who brings her home” as the book said time and time again. That was, until the latter half of the book where I really disliked Nisha. Her fear of rejection and being ostracized by her community were completely understandable. But that didn’t excuse her behavior and complete disregard for Lucky. From what I gleaned, she was almost using Lucky. Nisha’s presence in the book seemed to only use her for the occasional secret hook-up. Whether in a room in the basement or her own bedroom, as a reader I never got that Nishas feelings had depth. They were lust based more than love based. Even her texts were shallow and she never said that she loved Lucky.
Even at the very end, where Lucky is ready to take her away from it all so that they can run away like Vidya, Luckys’ older sister, did she chooses the man she doesn’t love and possibly can’t love ever. It’s heartbreaking yet upsetting at the same time.
One thing I did like is that Lucky was truly able to be herself at the end. Cultural norms be damned. She deserved to live her life the way she wants to without this pressure of keeping a huge secret from others.
*end of spoilers*
Overall I’d give this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars. The one thing that got me to mark it down was the portions with Vidya & the lack of depth with Nisha. The Vidya portions felt like extra parts and left me wanting to know more about her life and situation. And the other older sisters life felt like reading a tale of a sacrifical lamb and as true as it was, it hurt in my gut.
Some quotes I really enjoyed were:
“We used to spent hours wandering the rooms. When I was younger, I imagined that ghosts still roamed the halls, going about their business as usual , arranging their hair in front of smoky mirrors, having tea on silk sofas, entertaining guests with a piano concert in the Tapestry Room.”
“Maybe it just wasn’t in the stars for us. Rewriting your fate is tricky. We get to keep our families, but we lose something in return. The law of equivalent exchange.”
Overall I’d give this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars. The one thing that got me to mark it down was the portions with Vidya & the lack of depth with Nisha. The Vidya portions felt like extra parts and left me wanting to know more about her life and situation. And the other older sisters life felt like reading a tale of a sacrificial lamb and as true as it was, it hurt in my gut.