Both expansive and distilled, it is also transporting in its depiction of Sital’s ancestral island home in its vibrancy, beauty, and blight ... Sital’s tribute is staggering. Most piercingly, she relays with a detachment that reads like love the ways these women were fiercely determined to escape the formidable hardships of their past, foremost for the sake of their children, yet were all but doomed to repeat them. Sital’s bracing, loving blend of memoir and family history is not to be missed.
This is not the Trinidad of V. S. Naipaul, rendered with elegant sentences and brilliant introspection, but, rather, a place where women’s and children’s lives are held in thrall by cruel men ... One reads Sital’s story appalled and moved by the suffering of these indomitable women — including Sital herself, raised by Arya in cramped homes in New Jersey — as they valiantly struggle. Only in the kitchen, where they cook their delicious dishes, can they reign supreme and reveal their secrets. A reader can only applaud the author who has so skillfully preserved them in such loving, precise detail.
The author moves us back and forth—one woman’s story to another, one time period to another—and she records the dialogue in dialect, so readers should slow down to take it all in ... A powerful, disturbing narrative in which pain flows out from the page, drenching readers.