Workman Audio. Jan. 2022. 11:19 hrs. ISBN 9781649040787. $26.95. F
Smita, a journalist who focuses on gender issues, left India for the United States at age 14, under horrible circumstances gradually revealed throughout the novel, and vowed never to step foot in her homeland again. But when Shannon, a friend and colleague, needs help, Smita abandons her vacation in the nearby Maldives and heads to Mumbai, expecting to nurse Shannon in her recovery from hip surgery. What Shannon really needs, however, is for Smita to take over coverage of a trial that has garnered international attention. Meena, a young mother from a deeply conservative Hindu village, has bravely accused her two brothers of setting the fire that killed her Muslim husband Abdul and left Meena badly burned and scarred. Umrigar’s (The Secrets Between Us) latest novel is the third narrated by Sneha Mathan, and her familiarity with Umrigar’s prose shines through in her mesmerizing performance. Mathan smoothly navigates the point-of-view shifts between Smita and Meena, establishing distinct personas for the two very different young women, each grappling in her own way with the damaging effects of religious hatred, deep caste divisions, misogyny, and police and government corruption.
VERDICT A recent selection of Reese Witherspoon’s book club, libraries should expect demand for this thought-provoking drama.
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