Family Life: A Novel
by Akhil Sharma
Family Life charts the life of young Ajay Mishra as he struggles to grow up in a family that has been disoriented by a move from India to America and rocked to the core by tragic loss. It is also a story about Ajay’s parents, whose response to the grief they have encountered leaves them unable to care for the child as they should.
Right before you begin reading this book you’ll get the feeling that you’re in for one heck of a ride—similar to that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach before the roller coaster starts moving. Before I even opened the pages of this book I had a feeling that something breathtaking was going to happen. Some people may chalk this up to the publisher tweeting,
The end is going to make your jaw drop
but I like to think it was my keen reader’s intuition.
Akhil Sharma’s semi-autographical book transcends the experience of immigration to America. This is a story of universal tragedy and triumph of the human experience. And Sharma manages to portray all of this with a swaying rhythm and simple, yet carefully detailed prose.
When we first meet the Mishra family they are a young, middle-class bunch living in Dehli. Ajay and his older brother Birju are happy, their mother is content, and their father longs for something more for his family. Under Mr. Mishra’s guidance the family immigrates to America. At the beginning, the young family seems to find good luck and happiness in the new world, but they are soon met with an irreparable tragedy. The fire of this tragedy brings out the impurities of character and morality and each member of the Mishra family is forced to fight their demons and do so alone.
I’m not going to give it away and tell you what happens; I hope you’ll read it instead! But I can tell you that you will be mesmerized by Sharma’s writing skill. You will experience joy, pain, love, heart-break, anger, sadness, and just about any other emotion you can expect to conjure while reading such a powerful book.
Family Life is a masterpiece that has been skillfully created by the hands of a literary artist. It easily obtains five out of five stars and I highly recommend it.