In the wake of their mother's mysterious death, Linno and Anju Vallara are raised in Kerala by their father and grandmother. As a teenager, Anju wins a scholarship to a Manhattan prep school with an act of betrayal that severs her relationship with Linno, whose own future seems to hold little more than marriage.
In New York, Anju is plunged into the elite world of her Hindu American host family, led by a well-known television personality and her fiendishly ambitious son, a Princeton dropout determined to make a documentary about Anju's life.
But when Anju finds herself ensnared in her own lies, she runs away, helped by a stranger with hidden ties to her parents. Desperate to find Anju, Linno embarks on a journey of her own, towards her sister, and towards her mother, whose memory she has kept shrouded until now.
Funny, sad, moving, expertly told, with impeccably rendered portraits of unforgettable families on two continents, this is a masterful evocation of two sisters whose bonds are powerfully tested, whose love provides the only reliable compass in a landscape of unknowns.
About the Author
This is Tania James first novel which has also been Shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.
A student's odyssey from India to the United States and eventually back to India, a journey that raises personal and cultural questions about family, immigration and doing the right thing.Sisters Linno and Anju Vallara have been living a quiet life in Kerala with their father Melvin and their grandmother. Despite an accident that deforms her hand, Linno is an accomplished artist, and Anju is an academician. While visiting India, Miss Schimpf, from the Sitwell School in Manhattan, interviews 17-year-old Anju for a prestigious, all-expense-paid scholarship to the school, but the interview goes badly - that is, until Anju dazzles Miss Schimpf with some of her artwork. This seals the deal, and Miss Schimpf hails Anju as "a true Renaissance woman: an excellent student, a leader, and a brilliant artist." Trouble is that it's not Anju's artwork: Anju stole Linno's oeuvre in desperation to get the scholarship. At Sitwell Anju becomes something of a loner, but eventually she's befriended by Sheldon Fischer (aka "Fish") and holds out hope that he might even become a Real American Boyfriend. Instead, he betrays her secret to Miss Schimpf, and she is suspended from school. This ignominy leads Anju to run away and get a job at a beauty salon, hiding her status as she seeks legalization through a shifty immigration attorney. Meanwhile, back in India, the family also suffers, both from shame and worry. Even as Linno makes arrangements to come to the United States to find and recover her sister, Anju makes a parallel decision to reject American life and return home, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation.A touching debut novel with a range of tones, from the sweet to the sordid. (Kirkus Reviews)
Number Of Pages: 319
Published: 4th May 2009
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Dimensions (cm): 23.000 x 15.200