Sunday, September 6, 2015

*Review* Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Genre: NA/GLBT
Published: August 11, 2015
Pages: 296
Ages: 14+


A vibrant debut novel, set in Brooklyn and Bangladesh, Bright Linesfollows three young women and one family struggling to make peace with secrets and their past. 

For as long as she can remember, Ella has longed to feel at home. Orphaned as a child after her parents’ murder, and afflicted with hallucinations at dusk, she’s always felt more at ease in nature than with people. She traveled from Bangladesh to Brooklyn to live with the Saleems: her uncle Anwar, aunt Hashi, and their beautiful daughter, Charu, her complete opposite. One summer, when Ella returns home from college, she discovers Charu’s friend Maya—an Islamic cleric’s runaway daughter—asleep in her bedroom.  

As the girls have a summer of clandestine adventure and sexual awakenings, Anwar—owner of a popular botanical apothecary—has his own secrets, threatening his thirty-year marriage. But when tragedy strikes, the Saleems find themselves blamed. To keep his family from unraveling, Anwar takes them on a fated trip to Bangladesh, to reckon with the past, their extended family, and each other.


I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

This book didn't do it for me. I had a hard time getting into the story, I didn't really care about the characters, and I frequently felt like I should already be intimately familiar with the characters culture, and I'm not. So part of the problem is definitely me.

The story character jumps, and I feel like it would happen in the middle of chapters with no warning, which is part of why I felt no connection with the characters. As soon as a rapport was forming between us, I was thrown to someone else, like speed dating. I just never clicked with anyone and that connection is rather important for my enjoyment of a story.

When I read a book about a culture different from my own, I like feeling invited into the culture, and I didn't get that feeling from Bright Lines. I felt like an outsider looking in the whole time, so I'm left feeling just as clueless about the culture as I was when I began the book. Part of this problem may be due to my lack of connection with the characters.

Overall I give this book 2 out of 5 stars. I think it will appeal greatly to many people, but I struggled just to get interested and stay interested in the story and never felt any connection. It just wasn't a good book for me. - Katie 

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About the Author

Tanwi Nandini Islam is the author of BRIGHT LINES (Penguin 2015). She is the founder of Hi Wildflower Botanica, a small-batch niche perfume, candle and skincare line. Her writing has appeared in,, Open City, Women 2.0, and Gawker. A graduate of Brooklyn College MFA and Vassar College, she lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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