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If Today Be Sweet

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,637 Ratings  ·  228 Reviews
Tehmina Sethna's beloved husband has died this past year and she is visiting her son, Sorab, in his suburban Ohio home. Now Tehmina is being asked to choose between her old, familiar life in India and a new one in Ohio with her son, his American wife, and their child. She must decide whether to leave the comforting landscape of her native India for the strange rituals of l ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 29th 2007 by William Morrow (first published 2007)
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The Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Best South Asian Fiction
100th out of 498 books — 1,559 voters
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Immigrant Voices - Fiction
40th out of 226 books — 183 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,874)
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Aug 11, 2011 Susan rated it it was ok
This was a kind of silly book in many ways. There were some things that were interesting, but it wasn't nearly as good as The Space Between Us. Tehmina is a 66 year old widow who has come from Bombay to stay with her son and American daughter-in-law while trying to decide where to spend the rest of her life: in America with them or back in Bombay. There's a lot of agonizing over this decision by all parties. Then there's a sub-plot in involving an abusive mother living next door. The way this pl ...more
Jun 23, 2008 Erica rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008-reads
I really enjoyed this book. Great infomation about Indian culture.

In Umrigar's tender fourth novel, Tehmina "Tammy" Sethna is torn between two cultures that couldn't be more different: Bombay and Cleveland. The former is her homeland, but after her husband's recent death, she's been staying with her son and his family in America. Tehmina loves being near grandson Cookie, but she often feels like an intruder in her American daughter-in-law's home, and she's disconcerted by the changes in her son,
Susan de la Vergne
Aug 14, 2008 Susan de la Vergne rated it liked it
It's a sweet story, about a recently widowed woman from Bombay who tries to decide whether to move to suburban Ohio to live with family. But she spends the entire book deciding. Fortunately, she's an interesting character, but often annoying because she's indecisive. Finally something happens (she rescues two children) and gets off the fence, literally: Her deciding moment comes as she's climbing a fence, trying to decide on which side to jump down. Too literal a metaphor for me. But the charact ...more
Dec 29, 2011 Shelley rated it it was ok
I would give this novel a 2-1/2 star if I could. It wasn't the best writing and it did go on and on quite a bit about some things and it was quite predictable as well, but it's not too often that I find myself wanting to laugh out loud as I did in this story as it was just too cute to hold back. It's about a 66 year old Parsi woman who can't make up her mind where to live as her beloved husband, Rustom, passed away the year before. She has to choose whether to live in Ohio with her son, Sorab, a ...more
Jun 14, 2009 June rated it liked it
This is the 3rd Umrigar book I have read and my second favorite. I still believe "The Space between Us" is by far her best book so far. I am not sure if it was true in "The Space..." as well, but I find that Umrigar goes into such long episodes of characters' thoughts that it is disorienting once she comes back to the scene. This was more so a problem in Bombay Time (when there were many more characters) but it happens quite often in this novel as well. But this book succeeds in its wonderful an ...more
Dec 15, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it
This is an incredibly sweet-natured and even corny book, and I enjoyed it despite the stereotyped characters and occasionally wooden writing and imagery. Umrigar is writing about an older Parsi woman who comes to the USA to stay with her son and daughter-in-law after her beloved husband dies. She must decide whether to move to the US, or return to her life in Bombay. The whole book involves her sitting "on the fence," including a literal fence-sitting scene. But I enjoyed the details about India ...more
Susmita Bhattacharya
Jul 21, 2013 Susmita Bhattacharya rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book. Poignant, heart-wrenching, humourous and poetic. Thrity Umrigar at her best.
Jul 22, 2013 Ellen rated it liked it
Shelves: library
Enjoyable, but not as good as either The Space Between Us or The World We Found. A bit fairy-tale-esque in a way, what with Jerome and Josh getting a wonderful new chance with their loving aunt in the countryside. A lot of things were squeezed into the final chapter; certain things, such as Rustom's Omar Khayyam messages, could've been a continuing occurrence throughout. The dialogue was weaker than I've come to expect from Umrigar, though certain characters (Grace) were characterized quite well ...more
Jul 19, 2012 Marcy rated it really liked it
Tehmina was in deep despair after her husband died. They were quite the lovable couple. They were both caring enough to take in another child, (they already had a son named Sorab), into their home when his beloved mom died, and his alcoholic father could not adequately take care of him. Both of Sorab's parents saw the loss of their son to America, but they were happy he was happy married to a white American woman who loved him and bore their son. Tehmina and her husband lived in Mumbai, but visi ...more
Sep 16, 2015 Arlene rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Widow Tehmina Sethna is caught between Bombay and Ohio. One is her home but the other is where her son and his family live. And though she has visited America extensively she is not sure if she is ready to move there. Ms Umrigar tells this story in a thoughtful and encouraging manner. At the end I was rooting for Tehmina to make America her home.
Cynthia Sillitoe
Feb 27, 2016 Cynthia Sillitoe rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It's much more lighthearted than her other books and really delightful.
Feb 10, 2015 Mom rated it it was ok
I absolutely adored The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar and so was eager to read If Today Be Sweet. The plot concerns a recently widowed Indian woman who comes to visit her son in America and is invited to stay and settle here. She is conflicted, as her home of Bombay holds all her memories of her husband and family, holds all her friends, all her "colorful, busy, active, people-filled life." Staying with her son and his family means moving into a suburban house "as sealed and silent as a tom ...more
Aug 25, 2014 Sara rated it it was ok
Tehmina is newly widowed and unsure of what to do with her life. Should she stay in Bombay, where everything is familiar and reminders of her husband are around every corner, or should she move into her son's home in suburban Cleveland as he desires, though it is clear that she is a burden to his wife? During the course of a 6 month stay with her son, she begins to see the world in a new light and emotionally bonds with the two neglected boys next door. But is that enough to help make Tammy, as ...more
Jan 14, 2015 Hillary rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 27, 2015 Carolyn rated it liked it
This book could have used better editing. The same simile was used twice, just a few pages apart, and a couple ordered dinner twice from the same waiter. I hate dumb mistakes like that. The author's style is pretty simple. You cannot say that her writing is great art. That being said, the story was okay. The matriarch of the family is trying to adjust to life after the death of her husband, and she is trying to decide whether to stay in America with her son, daughter-in-law and grandson or to re ...more
Aug 08, 2012 Vionna rated it liked it
A widow from Bombay has difficulties in adjusting to life in America living with her son, daughter-in-law and grandson. It’s a well written book exploring the adjustments that need to be made when starting a new life in such a diverse country as the US.
Devon H
Nov 27, 2015 Devon H rated it really liked it
A mother’s story chronicling her children’s lives and the lives of the children next door, Umrigar spins a fabulous tale that removes the importance of chronology and gives a breath of fresh air to those of us whose minds jump from one decade to the next constantly.

Although I initially felt unsure about the presence of her late husband as a ghost in her head, I think he played a valuable role in her story.This story questions privilege and who has privilege because Tehmina is constantly evaluati
This book is about an Indian woman whose husband died, which results in her having to decide whether to continue living in India or move to Cleveland to live with her son and his American wife. The author is an Indian woman who lives in Cleveland and teaches English at Case Western Reserve University. She is very well known for another book, The Spaces Between Us, which I have not read. I thought the writing in this book was simplistic and I thought the way the storyline played out was a bit unr ...more
Jun 30, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
When Tehmina's husband dies, she moves to the United States to be with her son, his white American wife, and their child. Faced with a new location and culture in sharp contrast to that of India, she must decide whether to stay in America with family or to return to her native country. The author is a wonderful writer, and her vivid descriptions of the contrasting customs allowed me to visualize life elsewhere. Umrigar's characters are well-drawn, feel real, and I cared about each of them. Basic ...more
A good read & enjoyed it.
Jan 30, 2015 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
Have just fallen head over heals with Thrity Umrigar's novels; call them Hinglish if you will, but, nonetheless I love them. Tehmina Sethna is newly widowed & is visiting her son, daughter-in-law & grandson in the US & trying to decide if she is to move to the US or remain in her beloved India. The two cultures collide--that of tradition and the new world, old friends vs family, old age with family or with familiarity. Age old questions with no ready answers. Just a wonderful read. T ...more
Carla Catalano
Apr 12, 2016 Carla Catalano rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Most reviewers will agree that the quality of writing in If Today be Sweet is not nearly at the same level of Umrigar's, The Space Between Us. This story revolves around Tehmina Sethna, a recent widow who moves from India to visit her son in an upper class suburb of Ohio. Tehmina is wavering between living in America or living alone back in Bombay. This is a story of immigration, family, values, choices and more, but I had some problems with the book, more than just the quality of writing. For i ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"Tehmina Sethna's beloved husband has died this past year and she is visiting her son, Sorab, in his suburban Ohio home. Now Tehmina is being asked to choose between her old, familiar life in India and a new one in Ohio with her son, his American wife, and their child. She must decide whether to leave the comforting landscape of her native India for the strange rituals of life in a new country.

This is a journey Tehmina, a middle-aged Parsi woman, must travel alone.

The Parsis were let into
Irene Gonzales
Oct 14, 2014 Irene Gonzales rated it it was amazing
I loved this funny and sad story. I am a Hospice Volunteer so I hear a lot of stories of elderly people who feel they no longer have a place in their children's lives. The difference in cultures makes it difficult too. I strongly recommend this book to anybody who lives or is planning to live with an in-law, please be kind and understanding, remember we all get older, if you listen we have a lot to learn from the elderly, just open your ears and heart. Everybody has a story to tell so listen and ...more
Kieran Walsh
Aug 09, 2010 Kieran Walsh rated it liked it
A really good book though not as emotionally developed as The Space Between Us. Clearly Umrigar understands the nuances of emigration (the pull from home), the intensity of a new environment and the heartbreak of indecision (for those with the luxury of choice). Tehmina's new life isnt as predictable as might be expeted. She's recently widowed, so clearly bereaved and deals with a myriad of cultural anamolies that are mostly beyond her reach yet accutely within her comprehension. Her son has his ...more
Jun 17, 2012 Julia rated it it was ok
This is my 4th Umrigar novel and I have loved each one, until this one. It just seemed rather silly. Before I was even half way through, I began to get irritated with all the bashing of American culture and life. It just got so tiring.

The story is of an Indian woman, Tehmina, recently widowed who goes to Ohio for a visit with her son and his wife and their young son. They have extended an invitation to Tehmina to move from India to Ohio with them permanently, since the death of her husband.

So, t
Aug 12, 2008 Shakirah rated it really liked it
When I first read The Space Between Us by Umrigar, I was so mesmerised by her authorship that I was googling to find if she has any other published books. I was disappointed, then. That must have been about 2 years ago. A few days back when I was googling again to satisfy my craving for a shot of good literary work, I was elated to find quite a number of books by her and decided to take a trip to the bookstore to get this one. It is not as fast a read as the Space but as poignant and evocative a ...more
Pamela Pickering
Jul 01, 2008 Pamela Pickering rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Apparently I have chosen the wrong book of this author to explore. Why did I abandon this book? My top reasons: 1)after 3 chapters I found the writing to be incredibly cheesy . It almost seemed as if it was written by a junior high kid. Of course, I'm not a fabulous writer either but it is not my profession. 2) Please remember I've only read 3 chapters in this book when I say this and things might change later in the story. The writer points out what is "wrong" with every American character that ...more
Jun 06, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
This book took off a bit slowly for me and then picked up a lot at the end. So, if you are planning to read it, or are reading it, don't give up. It gets better as you turn the pages!!

This is a story about a new widow, who has recently lost her husband and sole mate, Rustom. Tehmina Sethna is from Bomboy and visiting her son Sorab in Ohio. Though she has been to visit her son, his American wife, and grandson Cookie before, it is the first time she has been there without Rustom who always seemed
Apr 10, 2009 Louise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Another astounding and deeply tender novel from Ms. Umrigar that teaches and tells us about the slow pace, wonderful sights and sounds of India and how to take life as it comes.

Tehmina is a widow from India who has come to America to visit with her son Sorab, a 38-year-old with an American wife named Susan and one son, Cookie. Sorab had left his native India to pursue an education in the United States and never left after he graduated. Tehmina is devastated and lost without her beloved husband R
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A journalist for seventeen years, Thrity Umrigar has written for the Washington Post, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and other national newspapers, and contributes regularly to the Boston Globe's book pages. Thrity is the winner of the Cleveland Arts Prize, a Lambda Literary award and the Seth Rosenberg prize. She teaches creative writing and literature at Case Western Reserve University. The author ...more
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