Author: Mira Jacob
The story of a family, divided across generations and cultures, wrestling with its future and its past, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is at once magical, mouth-watering and heartbreaking.
Of all the family gatherings in her childhood, one stands out in Amina’s memory. It is 1979, in Salem India, when a visit to her grandmother’s house escalates into an explosive encounter, pitching brother against brother, mother against son.
In its aftermath, Amina’s father Thomas rushes his family back to their new home in America. And while at first it seems that the intercontinental flight has taken them out of harm’s way, his decision sets off a chain of events that will forever haunt Thomas and his wife Kamala; their intellectually furious son, Akhil and the watchful young Amina.
Now, twenty years later, Amina receives a phone call from her mother. Thomas has been acting strangely and Kamala needs her daughter back. Amina returns to the New Mexico of her childhood, where her mother has always filled silences with food, only to discover that getting to the truth is not as easy as going home.
A few weeks ago, I was on a trip to crossword because I was feeling a bit down, I just went to browse around, while chanting in the head “You are NOT to buy anything, You are NOT to buy anything”. And I genuinely did not intend to buy anything..until..I glanced at a book with an absolutely beautiful cover…The blues, the blacks, the tree with the sparkling lights…It was just SO PRETTY..but I kept it back on the shelf and willed my self to walk away..that lasted for ten minutes..after which I found myself standing in line for the check out line with two books in my hand Once again, the power of books override the power of will, not that I am complaining.
When I bought the Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, I got it solely because of its beautiful cover and an interesting title. I knew nothing about it, neither had I heard about it. But, it looked so lovely on my shelf ❤
When I got to reading it, I realized that what was inside the book, was even more beautiful than the outside (if that was even possible)
The book felt so good, because it was so real. There was no romanticism of India, nor were there any of the nostalgic “Indian ties” paragraphs that most books that deal with Indian citizens living abroad seem to thrive on. The characters are real, their struggles are portrayed in such a way, that one can’t just not empathize with them.
When Amina, a photographer, gets a call from her mother who calls her home as her brain surgeon father was spending his time sitting on the porch and conversing with dead relatives, Amina took it with a grain of salt and believed this was another of her mom’s plots to get her home and introduce eligible bachelors.
But, she comes home and gradually finds her dad is indeed displaying signs of unnatural behavior.
It’s a 500 page book, but the language is quite simple. The reader actually glides through the book and in the end is left with a slightly melancholy, but uplifting feelings.