I have to give a special shout out thank you to my GR friend Jalilah because if she had invited me to join the Middle Eastern reading group, I wouldn’t have read this wonderful book.
The novel follows Reena who lives in what today is Bangladesh. When the book opens Reena has just lost her children to her in-laws, and then the book jumps a few years into the future where Reena and her children struggle though Bangladesh birth pains as the country gains its independence from Pakistan.
While Reena herself is lukewarm on the question of independence, at least at first, her children are supportive, and Reena lives for her children. In many ways, Reena is an everywoman as she struggles to keep what remains of her family together and alive. Reena’s struggle is that of everywoman. She is not politically active, she is not a superwoman. She is what she is and that is it. And therein lays the charm of the story.
And it is a powerful story, heavy with accuracy and allowing the reader to figure things out. There is subtleness about the writing, yet it is a gripping story.