Monday, March 31, 2014

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing, by Mira Jacob

Now that's a satisfying novel. And a debut one, at that.

Mira Jacob carries her readers into the life and world of Amina Eapen and her family, over twenty or so years, from early days in India to the US in the 1980's and 90's. Amina heads home to New Mexico, from her world as a photographer in Seattle, when her mother calls, concerned about the erratic behavior of her father, a prominent neurosurgeon. What those two sentences don't capture is the lush richness of character that Jacobs presents her readers, to tease the palate, and satisfy the appetite. As the story progresses, both retrospectively and in the modern day, each scene, each character, is laced with with depth and detail that make these seem like situations and people you might encounter in your own world: stubborn, idiosyncratic, loving, funny, quirky -- real (but real people you wouldn't mind knowing, and definitely wouldn't mind having a meal with, if Kamala, Raj, or Jamie were doing the cooking.) One of the things I enjoyed most was the role food and flavors played in this novel.

This is a novel of mind and memory, and how the two can interact at different times of our lives. It also is a novel of heart, hope, and ultimately, healing, as we move forward with the bumps and upheavals of life. This book supposedly took Ms Jacob 10 years to complete. I hope we don't have to wait that long for another chance to dip into the rich vibrancy of her world.

Thank you to LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program and Random House for this book. It is available for sale 1 July, 2014.

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