“Bright Lines” by Tanwi Nandini Islam (Publication Date: August 11th, 2015)
Page Length: 304 pages (electronic review copy)
For as long as she can remember, Ella has longed to feel at home. Orphaned as a child after her parents’ murder, and afflicted with hallucinations at dusk, she’s always felt more at ease in nature than with people. She traveled from Bangladesh to Brooklyn to live with the Saleems: her uncle Anwar, aunt Hashi, and their beautiful daughter, Charu, her complete opposite. One summer, when Ella returns home from college, she discovers Charu’s friend Maya—an Islamic cleric’s runaway daughter—asleep in her bedroom.
As the girls have a summer of clandestine adventure and sexual awakenings, Anwar—owner of a popular botanical apothecary—has his own secrets, threatening his thirty-year marriage. But when tragedy strikes, the Saleems find themselves blamed. To keep his family from unraveling, Anwar takes them on a fated trip to Bangladesh, to reckon with the past, their extended family, and each other. (description from First To Read)
Bright Lines tells the story of a Bangladesh family living in Brooklyn. I’ll admit it was a bit slow to start, but overall the novel moves at a clam and steady pace. It is an entertaining family drama, in which each member of the family going through their own internal struggles. Most noticeably is the sisterly relationship between Ella and Charu. Both are in this transition of a coming of age period in which they are trying to discover themselves and we see how it ultimately affects their relationship and themselves.
The novel switches back and forth between the past and present. Through these glimpses of life in the US and Bangladesh I was exposed to a culture that was new to and a landscape that was vastly different from what I’m used to. I enjoyed these aspects of the novel since I got to learn and see new things. I also got to see a diverse side of Brooklyn that I haven’t seen yet in contemporary novels and I loved the diversity of characters.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book from First To Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.