Return To India- A Memoir (Book Review)

I have the habit of adding a disclaimer before some of my reviews. It’s just to make it known ‘beyond doubt’ that the reviews are personal opinions with no obligations whatsoever to concur with the thoughts of others.

I was quite tempted to do the same for this book too, partly because of my age at the time of reviewing it, but, I shall refrain from adding the words “Disclaimer” on top of this post.  I guess I’ve expressed my intent well enough, here.

Return to India-A memoir by Shoba Narayan begins from the time when the author was a kid with dreams to go to the land of opportunities and moves to essay her life in the USA. It also includes episodes of her tryst with people who made her the woman that she is, interspersed with woes of motherhood and parenting; her search for an identity both for herself and for her kids; and finally ends in her move from the USA, along with her family.

The author’s style of writing is simple and captivating, but,I was impressed more with the first half of the book than with the second half. As a woman in her early 20’s and hailing from a Tam Brahm community as the author herself, I could relate to her early, pre motherhood days, much more than I could, to her almost obsessive parenting. 

The desire to break free from the suffocating clutches of the parents, the need to explore the world and its different cultures, the love at first sight cravings of the youth etc. are all wonderfully portrayed by the author and you just can’t help but smile at those parts. The grandfather episode of “You can marry anybody as long as he is a …..” is another one which would find its relevance in most of the households and has been written well with a touch of subtle humor.

The story , however, gets a little monotonous in the second half with the author dwelling on the hardships of parenting, a little too much. Perhaps, it was meant to be that way and a reader with no experience in the domain was not meant to connect to those episodes. 

There are times when you think that the writer wants to leave New York for good and then the next page has her questioning her decision. These vacillations wane the reader’s interest at times. 

There are some interesting quotes too. For instance, the comparison between people and the billiards ball (mentioned as a friend’s quote) :
“The minute you meet people, uou get on a path of separation. Till u meet you are on a path to togetherness. After that it’s like Billiard balls when hit by a cue, you roll away from each other”

The prologue is neatly written and essentially captures the essence of the book. In fact, I would say that this was the best part of the book , while giving due credit to the rest of the content, too. 

In short, this book is a good read meant  to cater to the NRI audience who battle with the idea of returning to India. It is good for the rest of the audience too, if they are in a mood for reading life stories. There is nothing new or novel in this , though- a time pass.


This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

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