I will defer to Heather Leighton's review in The Globe and Mail
I had indeed felt muddled by the prose as I followed the story of Beena and Sadhana but as I turned to reviews to confirm that others had also felt this, I read through several glowing reviews before I came upon Leighton's. she expressed my response to this book perfectly. the story of the pregnant sister vs the anorexic sister held my attention. I just wish the verbiage hadn't gotten in the way.
One of the five finalist books in CBC Canada Reads 2016
I agree with the person who had trouble caring about either of the two self-centered girls in the story. I did finish the book but wouldn't have missed it if I hadn't.
This book lost me when the Mother died because of something the girls did. It was a good deed they were doing and then it's their fault that she died. The book is also choppy going from the past to the present without any warning. I do not recommend it.
Subject matter which should have been thought provoking left me bored and frustrated, wondering why one couldn't develop an empathy towards either of the sisters. Although the dynamics of sibling relationships can be complex, and reasons deep, the description of Sadhana's and Beena's relationship seems flat and colourless despite the struggles each sister faces. Am three quarters of the way through and am not sure I'll finish.
I second someone's earlier comment that this is their favorite Canadian book so far this year. I dove right into this story and couldn't put it down. A great story of sisterhood and sibling rivalry with just enough intrigue to warrant a cringe or two when I arrived at my subway stop and had to put it down.
I enjoyed this book, even though there were times when I shook my head at what Beena does or neglects to do. Her sister Sadhana dies suddenly in her apartment and is not discovered for a week. This tragedy requires Beena to return to Montreal from Ottawa to deal with the aftermath. In so doing, she also returns to their childhood and thus starts a very engaging story of loss, support, family, racial issues, mothers, sons, lovers, life in general, all helping to bring fullness and understanding to the why of things. Beena has always looked out for her sister, even when Sadhana lashed out and turned her back, and as she remembers and deals with those memories, comes to understand some basic truths about relationships, especially honesty and openness always being the best course.
This debut novel about two orphan sisters is my favourite Canadian book so far this year.
Though the plot is engaging, with something of a mystery to be resolved, it's primarily a story about character.
Among the many themes the narrative explores is that of family duty. Just how much do you owe your own family,
especially when they don't seem to want your help?
Transitioning from short story writer to novelist, Saleema Nawaz has produced an ambitious, beautiful debut set in Montreal and Ottawa. "Bone and Bread" centres on Beena and Sadhana, two sisters from a previously published short story, and explores the theme of motherhood as both a blessing and an affliction.
The novel opens with news of Sadhana's sudden death. Beena, taking on the role of narrator and memoirist, depicts the sisters' physical and psychic connections while also reconstructing the family's past and her own present. She describes her childhood, living in a small apartment above their Sikh father's bagel shop in the heart of Montreal's Jewish community and ultimately dealing with the death of both her parents. When Sadhana's eating disorder takes over her life and Beena becomes pregnant at 16, the sisters' lives diverge into virtual estrangement. As Nawaz writes through Beena, she evokes memories with verve, attacking them with precision and often anger.
Despite an awkward sub-theme of racial politics, "Bone and Bread" delivers a subtle, astute study of sibling rivalry that grasps readers' attention and provokes thought about the solitudes of family life.
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