Other Waters, by Eleni Gage
In Eleni Gage’s Other Waters we meet Maya, a high achieving Indian- American woman living in New York City. On the surface her life is ideal: she has a family who loves her, a successful career in psychiatry, and a sweet boyfriend. But after her beloved Grandmother passes away, and her family is cursed by a bitter servant back in India, things begin to fall apart. Her boyfriend can no longer stand Maya keeping him a secret from her family simply because he is not Indian, she is the subject of a frivolous malpractice law suit, and each member of Maya’s family begins to fall victim to some sort of calamity.
Maya hopes that a trip back to India with her best friend, to attend a cousin’s wedding, will give her an opportunity to break the curse and help her find happiness that seems to be eluding her.
Other Waters– evocative of Eat, Pray, Love- has three definite acts. But these sections are amazingly disparate, which make the novel ever-so disjointed and unfocused. It’s part Jhumpa Lahiri-esque portrayal of life as an ABCD (American-born Confused Desi), part travelogue, and part Sex in the City style tales of boyfriend drama.
For me, what starts off seeming like a serious and literary study of an Indian American family, finished feeling like more like high-class chick-lit (only with the romantic interest being decidedly uninteresting).
Don’t get me wrong though- I don’t mean this as an insult, as I enjoy chick-lit as much as anyone. It’s just that the most enjoyable passages are from the middle section novel- Maya’s experiences traveling through India. It is here that Gage is able to let the story twist and turn in unexpected and delightful ways, and unfortunately (but perhaps, realistically) it is when Maya returns to New York that we find her in a bit of a rut again.
And, while her relationship towards the end of the novel is frustrating- this is mainly due to the fact that Gage successfully draws the reader to Maya. You truly want the best for her, and the person Maya is in a relationship with is clearly wrong for her. The story does leave off on a high note, with one last pleasant and unexpected turn for Maya- which nicely rounds out this entertaining novel.
Note: I received this book as a giveaway from Shelfawareness