Book: The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar
In the years following the sudden death of their seven-year-old son, Benny, Michigan residents Frank and Ellie Benton have witnessed the steady deterioration of their marriage. So when Frank’s boss offers him a position overseeing a company factory in the rural Indian city of Girbaug, Ellie convinces her husband it’s just the change they both need. From the start, Ellie, a therapist, basks in her new life, making friends with townspeople and volunteering her services at a nearby clinic. But Frank’s work brings endless grief. His company, Herbal Solutions, has taken over land containing trees that locals have long harvested for their medicinal properties. Frank’s world brightens when he befriends Ramesh, the charming, inquisitive son of the Bentons’ housekeeper and cook. Ramesh soon becomes a surrogate for Benny in a relationship that simultaneously boosts Frank’s spirits and breaks his heart. Umrigar (First Darling of the Morning, 2008) renders melancholy novels that resonate with rich prose and vibrant depictions of India, where she spent the first 21 years of her life before moving to the States. The Weight of Heaven is a bold, beautifully rendered tale of cultures that clash and coalesce. --Allison Block
I let my mom read this book (because I was midway through a different book) before I did & she loved it. I have mixed feelings about it. The descriptions of India are eloquently written and very interesting. I thought that would be what I disliked most about the book (the setting) but, in fact, was the thing I liked most about it. There were times when I got bogged down at a certain point and thought to myself, "How is this relevant to the story?" The narrator changes character point of view's quite often and sometimes it was hard to determine who was the narrator. The story also kind of flip flops through flashbacks, which kind of throws you off track at times. But other than that, it was a good read. It is easy to get caught up in the different relationships and I found myself empathizing with each character. The book is very "melancholy" as Block describes, so I wouldn't mind reading a cheerier book after this one. Overall, I give it a B-.