It’s the last Saturday of the month, which means it’s Give a Sh*t Book Club time! Our pick for this month is No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal, a novel about Indian immigrants living in Cleveland and the struggles they face not only to feel at home in their adopted country, but to recognize and accept who they are as people.
I really loved this book. The characters felt very real to me, and I hoped desperately for happy endings for them even as everything that happened to them the entire book led me to think it wasn’t likely. So I was much relieved when all the characters, but particularly Harit and Ranjana, ended up in a better place than where they started. They earned every scrap of the happiness and fulfillment they found, and I was so happy they found it together, as friends.
The loneliness that all the characters feel, though it manifests in different ways, seemed to me like it came from the same place: wanting to be loved and understood, but too afraid to take the risk of asking for it. I was going to specifically point out Harit and Ranjana’s loneliness, since they are the main characters, but once I thought about it, just about everybody in the book had some level of loneliness going on. Even poor Cheryl, who hid the painful loss of her son behind gum snapping enthusiasm, and Prashant, who captured almost too vividly the awkwardness of collegiate socializing. The scene where Harit and his mother finally confess their secrets to each other and find a mutual understanding made me misty.
Adam makes fun of me for liking books that I call “ultimately redemptive.” He claims it is just code for “sad.” I will admit this book is sad—Harit lived so many years on his own before he even considered he might be worthy of love, and Ranjana and Mohan allowed their marriage to settle into boring routine instead of truly engaging with each other. But to me, watching their journeys towards hopefulness makes it all worth it. I don’t necessarily mind a sad book if the characters are on their way to something better.
Hope you liked the book too! Comments are open below. Can’t wait to hear what you think!