Gage beautifully describes the waters that evoke the transformative moments of Maya’s journey. Yet Parvati, the...

OTHER WATERS

Can goddesses walk among us? Can an entire family really be cursed? Can a modern woman find her inner goddess?

In her debut novel (following her 2005 memoir North of Ithaka), Gage tells the tale of Maya Das. She has it all: a promising career in psychiatry, a family chock-full of successful physicians, a supportive best friend and a loving boyfriend. So why can't she manage to introduce her white boyfriend, Scott, to her Indian family? With her best friend, Heidi, and her residency-required therapist urging her to commit to her relationship and introduce him to the family, Maya is poised to assert her own independence. Yet the death of Dadiji, Maya's grandmother, far away in India, sets in motion not only some soul-searching but also a possible family curse. As a child visiting India, Maya had witnessed a father beating his daughter, dressed as a goddess and forced to beg on the streets. Maya begged her grandmother to intervene with the surprising result that the young girl was brought into Dadiji's home. Raised as a sort of servant slash inferior daughter, Parvati makes Maya and her older sister, Priya, uncomfortable. Indeed, Maya continues to wonder well into adulthood whether Parvati might actually be a goddess or have supernatural powers. Of course these wonderings conflict with her modern medical training, not to mention her family's practical approach to life. So when Maya's father discreetly calls to tell her Parvati has cursed the family, Maya is both dismissive and afraid. After her father's heart attack, her mother's hemorrhage, her sister's miscarriage, her brother's marital strife and her own personal and professional difficulties, however, Maya begins to take the curse much more seriously. A quest to India is in order. The journey offers Maya the chance not only to lift the family curse but also to assess her life, particularly her relationship with Scott and her own attitude towards her ethnicity.

Gage beautifully describes the waters that evoke the transformative moments of Maya’s journey. Yet Parvati, the curse-caster, remains mysteriously underdeveloped. A lovely read, but a missed opportunity to delve deeply into the superstitions that still lurk in our modern minds.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-65851-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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