Two very different women reckon with pregnancy, childbirth, and the meaning of family in Berkeley, California.
Kavya is a not-so-good Indian daughter who has failed to live up to her parents’ expectations. She's desperate to have a baby with her husband, Rishi, but is unable to conceive. She wanted “to shape her own blood and body into sparkling new life.” Soli is an undocumented Mexican immigrant determined to start a new life in America. Betrayed by her border-crossing companion, Manuel, though, she ends up pregnant and single. Without other options, Soli lands a job cleaning houses for a well-to-do white family. Sekaran (The Prayer Room, 2009) intertwines Soli's and Kavya’s stories: Soli struggles to navigate life as the single mother of baby boy Ignacio in a strange land, while infertility begins to push Kavya and Rishi further and further apart. But when an accident winds up with Soli in police custody, Ignacio is taken away from her by social services and placed in foster care; Kavya and Rishi, who have given up on fertility treatments and signed up to become foster parents, are selected to provide a temporary home for the baby. While Soli is moved to a detention center for undocumented immigrants—where she undergoes violence and sexual abuse from law enforcement agents—Kavya and Rishi plot to permanently adopt Ignacio. The heartbreaking journeys of these two women, bound by love of the baby boy, are the center of the novel. Sekaran is a master of drawing detailed, richly layered characters and relationships; here are the subtly nuanced lines of love and expectation between parents and children; here, too are moments of great depth and insight.
A superbly crafted and engrossing novel.