Monday, May 12, 2008

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

Warning: some spoilers, but certainly not giving away the ending:
The Space Between Us is a beautiful yet depressing novel that realistically captures the everyday relationship between the Indian social classes. Having lived in a similar situation growing up, Thrity Umrigar breathes life into a story lived by untold millions.

In The Space Between Us, Thrity Umrigar weaves a story between the lives of Serabai, a Parsi middle class widow; and Bhima, her domestic servant for several decades. Serabai's extremely abusive and controlling husband dies suddenly leaving her to finally experience peace and happiness in her family life. In contrast, Bhima's husband loses three fingers on his hand and is left unemployed and unable to support his family. He turns to alcohol and then leaves her taking her only son with him. Bhima is forced to move to a tin shack in the slums without even running water, electricity, or private bathrooms. Her daughter and son in law die of AIDS in a poorly run underfunded government hospital leaving Bhima to raise her granddaughter.

Serabai lovingly cares for Bhimas granddaughter providing her with an education that is abruptly halted and her life possibly forever changed for the worse.

The Space Between Us goes from bad to worse as tragedy, pain, and hopelessness take over. The really depressing part is that this story is just a snapshot of the real situation taking place in many third world countries as well as India.

I highly recommend this book to book clubs because it is so thought provoking and can lead to some serious conversations and observations. I really look forward to reading additional books by this author. Ms. Umrigar has an unusual ability to breathe her characters to life. Her descriptions are rich, colorful, and full of texture. She does not waste a single word in the entire book.

1 comments:

J. Kaye Oldner said...

Hi, wanted to stop by. Found your blog on LT's Early Reviewers and have signed up for the fun Tuesday event! :)

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