Grief,Growth and Love   Leave a comment

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing

Assimilation, family expectations and grief are at the heart of Mira Jacob’s The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, which is both humorous and poignant, albeit long.

Although Amina Eapen was born in the United States, her parents’ roots remain tied to their native India. Amina is a single, 20-something, professional photographer. Her mother, Kamala, convinces her to return to Albuquerque on the pretext that Amina’s father is not well.

The story alternates between present day and Amina’s youth. Her parents’ marriage is problematic while her relationship with her brother, Akhil, is more consistent. One of Jacob’s threads leads to a family visit to India when the children are young. Largely, though, the focus is on the siblings in high school and Amina’s struggle to see her mother as more than a manipulator and her father as someone with physical ailments.

The settings Jacob presents include India, a small town near Albuquerque and Seattle. None would seem to have much in common with the other, yet they all contribute to the characters’ personalities and the life paths Amina and her family follow. Interestingly, the Eapens create a tight-knit community with other Indian nationals. They are so close as to be like a large, surrogate family, which Amina finds both tiresome and comforting.

The sounds and smells of India are vibrant in the Eapen kitchen, where food is something that Kamala uses as both bribery and solace. These serve their purpose as the family comes to grip with loss they have long kept buried — literally.

The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
Three-and-three-quarter Bookmarks
Random House Trade Paperback, 2015
498 pages


Posted May 18, 2016 by bluepagespecial in Uncategorized

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