The Story Hour

Harper. Aug. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780062259301. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062259325. F
OrangeReviewStarMaggie is normally very careful to maintain professional boundaries in her clinical practice. Yet when she begins treating Lakshmi, a young Indian woman who has been hospitalized after attempting suicide, the woman's loneliness strikes a chord in the African American psychologist, and Maggie realizes that what she needs more than therapy is a friend. What starts out as a project of sorts for Maggie to get Lakshmi to value her own worth develops into a true friendship. The narrative alternates by chapter between the two women as a bond between them develops despite cultural and educational differences—that is, until a revealed secret threatens to destroy how they view each other. Critically acclaimed Indian American writer Umrigar's most recent novel (after The World We Found) explores cross-cultural friendships, troubled marriages, love, loss, and forgiveness with her characteristic wisdom, humor, and warmth.
VERDICT This satisfying, psychologically complex story will appeal to a wide range of readers. Because its characters are both smart and likable without being sentimental or idealized, it may appeal to the chick lit crowd as much as to readers who enjoy multicultural literary fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 5/18/14; Editors' Picks, "Books for the Masses," p. 29.]
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