A woman embarks on an unexpected journey into her past in an engrossing novel about identity, family secrets, and rediscovering the need to belong.
Meena Dave is a photojournalist and a nomad. She has no family, no permanent address, and no long-term attachments, preferring to observe the world at a distance through the lens of her camera. But Meena’s solitary life is turned upside down when she unexpectedly inherits an apartment in a Victorian brownstone in historic Back Bay, Boston.
Though Meena’s impulse is to sell it and keep moving, she decides to use her journalistic instinct to follow the story that landed her in the home of a stranger. It’s a mystery that comes with a series of hidden clues, a trio of meddling Indian aunties, and a handsome next-door neighbor. For Meena it’s a chance for newfound friendships, community, and culture she never thought possible. And a window into her past she never expected.
Now as everything unknown to Meena comes into focus, she must reconcile who she wants to be with who she really is.
The Candid Life of Meena Dave (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (AbeBooks) (Audible.com)
I’m not sure what I was expecting with my pick for Amazon’s First Reads selection in June of 2022. Lots of times I find myself, as in this case, finally reading or upgrading to the Audible.com selection once the book has been released. The book is the story of personal and cultural identity, a family mystery, and a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.
There was good character development, and the reader really finds themselves rooting for Meena. The plotting seemed natural and well-paced, and the secondary characters were not cookie-cutter caricatures. I really enjoyed how Meena was introduced to her heritage and all the cultural differences between her upbringing and her current life.
I would not have suspected that this was a debut author given how well the book was written. I loved the little notes that Meena found hidden here and there in the apartment, and the plot twist at the end was original. I did not expect it. After reading this book, I know a little bit more about eastern Indian culture, which is always a sign of good fiction that can also teach one about something new. Highly recommend!
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