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All the Fishes Come Home to Roost: An American Misfit in India
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All the Fishes Come Home to Roost: An American Misfit in India

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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  557 ratings  ·  110 reviews
When she was seven, Rachel Manija Brown’s parents, post-60s hippies, uprooted her from her native California and moved to an ashram in a cobra-ridden, drought-stricken spot in India. Cavorting through these pages are some wonderfully eccentric characters: the ashram head, Meher Baba, best known as the guru to Pete Townshend of The Who; the librarian, who grunts and howls n...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by Rodale Books (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,068)
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bookczuk
Read this over Thanksgiving and have been mulling it about in my little brain since then. On the surface, this is a decently written memoir about a girl dragged off to India by her ex-hippie parents to live in an Ashram dedicated to the life and teachings of Meher Baba. There are some humorous parts, some heartbreaking parts. The thing that makes this different for me is that I know just about every person who appears in this memoir (book disclaimer: the names have been changed to protect the in...more
Kes
This book is probably the best evidence I've seen that just because you have a story to tell, doesn't mean you should write a book. My mother picked this up, and after reading the blurb we were both keen to read it as it sounded like a very interesting read. I nabbed it to read it first, which almost entirely meant that I got the honour of reading out the most self-congratulatory, precocious, annoying snippets for us to mutually poke fun at or grimace at how this ever got published.

While it has...more
Catherine
I predict that this will be the least cogent review of a book I ever give.

Toward the very end of this book, the author describes how she decided to write about her childhood, and break her silence on the misery she'd endured. She spent a long time thinking of everyone else who would be hurt by her sharing her memories, but eventually decided that breaking the silence, and finding her voice, was most important.

That was round about the moment I realized this book had been hammering away at my own...more
Jennifer Addington
I really wanted to give it 3.5 stars. This book hit home for me in many ways. I don't want to make this review about me, but let me say that I have spent time in India, in an Ashram (a different one) and then 5 years simply living there (nothing to do with the mentioned Ashram). So I could easily identify with Rachel and the people she lived with. And yes India is really that insane. All of it.Bizarre things happen on a daily basis. (I KNOW) This book for me was like looking in a mirror in some...more
Sunil
Jan 15, 2012 Sunil rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own, 2009
This memoir is about a seven-year-old white girl whose parents take her to Ahmednagar, India to live in an ashram with disciples of Baba, a spiritual leader (deceased at the time) who claimed he was God (and Jesus and Krishna and Buddha and just about everyone else). She is the only foreign child there. At the ashram, she's surrounded by wackaloons whose explanation for everything is "Baba's will," and at school, she's surrounded by kids who throw rocks at her for being an outsider and teachers...more
Selma
Apr 23, 2007 Selma rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: young people, people interested in life in an ashram, people interested in cults
Rachel Manija Brown's memoir of her childhood in an ashram in India, where she was brought by her cult-following parents, is surprisingly humorous and good natured. While acknowledging that her parents are nuts, she conveys their benign qualities as well as their quirks with a wry sense of detachment. That she survived the brutality of bullying in a fifth-rate backwater Catholic school, where the other children habitually pelted her with rocks and where the teachers beat students with rulers--or...more
Michael
A catalogue of horrors, told quite wittily. Self-involved parents, brutal Catholic school, certifiable ashram lunatics... RMB's mother chides her at the end for not writing about happier times. Mani replies: "The trouble is that one extreme experience is more memorable than many normal ones... I could see why Mom thought I ought to have written more about baking cookies and less about decapitations. But the decapitations had made more of an impression on me."
The book ends with Mani looking at a...more
Zandra
I could not put this book down. It was just so hilarious and surreal. Her vivid descriptions put you right there to see the world through her eyes. Much like Rachel, I tested highly at a very young age and that definitely makes you see and process the world differently. You try to intellectualize and over rationalize the strangest things to the mundane while experiencing them as a typical child. It definitely makes your world turn upside down sometimes. Rachel captured this so perfectly.
Tracy Walters
This was one of the most funny and entertaining books I have read in a very long time. Manija (Mani-jay) is one very independent and incredibly intelligent young girl in a crazy life brought on by her parents. She had me hooked from the first page and it was so much fun to experience her life through her writings. I loved this book!
Beth
I LOVED this book--about an American girl who spends part of her childhood in an ashram in India.
Alison
This memoir, All the Fishes Come Home to Roost Rachael Manija Brown, starts it off with a quote by -George Bernard Shaw- " If you have skeletons in your closet, you may as well make them dance." and that is exactly what she has done. The author writes very descriptively, so wonderful to read.. It is sometimes quite funny, often a bit horrifying, but everything she describes and goes through, give us an amazingly interesting story.
Rachael or Mani as she was called while there, had a pretty tough...more
Francesca Forrest
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda
Rachel Brown, known as Mani, has written an irreverent, funny, and sad memoir of her growing up India where her mother is a disciple of Meher Baba. Baba claimed he was the reincarnation of Zoroaster, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed; he believed that all human experience reflects God’s plan, and coined the phrase, “Don’t worry, be happy.” The family left California and went to India when Mani was seven. Her father never explained his reasons for going until years later when he said that...more
Nick Fagerlund
Okay, so someone or another, probably [Elizabeth Bear], linked one day to a really incredible series of posts entitled "[A User's Guide to PTSD][ptsd]." I'll wait here while you go read all three (start at the bottom one), because they are a work of art. The author self-deprecatingly bills them as an attempt to raise the general quality of Gundam fanfic, but they're ultimately exactly what the title of the series says: a comprehensive and explicit manual laying out just how it feels to have post...more
Marigorri
I read this book in the Dutch translation, which had kept the strange title that was the reason for me to pick it up in the library. I might not have read it if it had not caught my attention that way. And it was quite amazing: the real and horrible youth of an intelligent young girl who is transplanted from the USA to India where he life continues in an ashram filled with rather crazy people and the school she has to attend where all teachers seem to be torturing hypocrites. And still I recogni...more
Margaret
When Manija Brown (now Rachel Manija Brown) was seven, her parents decided to pack up and move to an ashram in India, there to devote themselves to the teachings of guru Meher Baba. All the Fishes Come Home to Roost is Brown's memoir of her life in India and since. It's both searingly funny and simply searing; though Brown finds humor in much of what happened to her, the pain of her misfit life is always present, and I often found myself going from laughter almost to tears in the space of a few...more
Fadillah
I picked this book at book fair thinking that it would be fun to read a memoir of a foreign girl who grew up in India. Boy, i was wrong to think so. It is quite painful for me to read the whole story considering a young girl is being dragged into the country she did not know of. The experience of being beaten by teachers, being bullied by her classmates and the dysfuctional relationship between her parents added a pressure and nightmares to this young girl. She even being forced to believe in go...more
Zen Cho
I always admire writers of memoirs for the way they're able to pull the disparate events of a life together into a story; my recollection of my own life is so foggy and confused I couldn't see myself ever doing that well.

Rachel's school reminded me of my experience at Chinese school -- the teachers weren't as bad (no standing in the sun until kids collapsed or knocking kids' heads into the wall), but they were pretty bad, and there was the same feeling of being absolutely helpless at the mercy o...more
Fiona
Manija's parents became devotees of Baba before the author was born. The father was fairly laid-back in his devotions but the mother would invoke Baba in almost every sentence, and when Manija was seven the family moved to India to live in Baba's ashram where Manija had a lonely, miserable time, pestered by the Babaites on one side and the nuns in her useless Dickensian school on the other. She tells the story in an entertaining way, though, and combines the perspectives of adult and child very...more
Patty
I have been intrigued by this book since I first heard about it. It was being marketed as like Burroughs Running with Scissors - which I could not even read. However, I had great hopes this would be better. And in my opinion it is.

I think Brown is a better writer and her story is more believable. Probably neither childhood was ideal, but I think Rachel Manija Brown seems to have come out of hers in better shape and with a good sense of humor.

Brown's parents, especially her mom, are followers of...more
Jenny Schmenny
I always enjoy the memoirs of hippies' kids. If you know me, you know why. This one's about a girl whose parents whisk her off to a cult in India. Since the guru is long-dead, there's no predictable molesty guru scenes, which is lovely, but there's a host of misery dished out by assorted adults who fail or mistreat her in an assortment of other ways. Interesting stuff, if mostly unhappy. A bit funny. I like people who can mix up funny and miserable. Questions of cultural clashes, spirituality, c...more
da-wildchildz
I laughed.

Last line from All the Fishes Come Home to Roost. A bit of a jumbled read. Its starts as described; an Indian Ashram childhood. However, the narrative didn’t stop at childhood but continued into adulthood. The turning point during adolescence was when my attention began dwindling because I stopped caring about teenage issues a long time ago and I don’t care about anyone else’s problems. At times the author reminded me of myself, with the way she questions religion, though it’s hard to...more
ellen
This was a very interesting memoir. I also had a strange relationship with my parents (some would say) so I could relate to the Rachel's independence. The book was an interesting snapshot of life in India, which I could relate to having lived in developing countries for over 4 years in my life. India is a spiritual center, and the whole idea of spiritual pilgrimages, spiritual tourism, and places that are full of international disciples seems fairly common there. I cannot imagine what it would b...more
Antonia Murphy
FABULOUS. This book was nimble, elegant, wise and funny as hell. The author's childhood encompassed everything from the gruesome to the bizarre, but instead of taking a self-pitying tone (which she could have quite easily done ), she finds humor and love-- however misguided-- in the adults around her. In doing so, she conveys how she has grown up and learned to see the silly, wayward hippies who raised her with compassion.

I admire her technique and the rich portraits she paints of guru-smitten s...more
Beth
A fascinating look at life in an ashram in India in the early 80s. The memoirist certainly had an unusual life. I liked how she traced her growing skepticism that a certain guru was actually God. She was realistic about the limitations on her as a seven- to eleven-year-old in terms of denying her parents' deeply held beliefs or rebelling against their idea of what was best for her. Her harrowing experiences at the Catholic school are the worst for being such an unlikely contrast with her parents...more
Cheyenne Blue
A rather disjointed memoir of an American kid who is carted off by her parents to live in an ashram in India. Mani was 7 when her parents moved to India to worship Baba (Pete Townsend's guru) and 12 when she moved back to American. In between she lived with the wackos in the ashram, went to a catholic school where she was bullied and mistreated, and spent a lot of time by herself with her head in a book.

For the most part, I found this an enjoyable read, at times enthralling. Mani's narrative ben...more
Jmolentin
Wow what could be worse than going to catholic school in India, while living at an ashram ? Surprising anyone could survive that.
Travis
Jan 06, 2011 Travis rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
I first heard about this while reading Brown's awesome essay about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in which she used examples from her own life, and linked to her book. I was interested just from the stuff she mentioned, but it was the comparisons to Augusten Burroughs' Running with Scissors that was the clincher.[return][return]I found it really hard to put down. If I hadn't forced myself to do so in order to do other stuff, I probably would have read it all in one sitting. Basically it's a hum...more
Pat
Jan 21, 2008 Pat rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
The memoir of a young girl transported to India to live with her parents in an ashram in the 80s. Not an easy transition. Living as the only child in the ashram and being the only foreigner in a Catholic school (the only place where she could be expected to get an adequate education) puts a lot of burdens on her. However, the book is written from hindsight by a television writer and so her travails come across as often humorous as well as mordant. I liked the book, however, I think that the rete...more
Suneeti
Apr 14, 2010 Suneeti marked it as to-read
i rarely ditch books, but a chapter into this one, i was utterly irritated. maybe it's the writing style or maybe the author's condescension in describing india or maybe her parents slightly wacky/typical pursuit of the preaching of some 'guru' who enlightened them. having spent a zillion summers there as an 'american misfit' myself, the author didn't seem to appreciate the stuff that's great about india (ok, i'm being harsh. she was uprooted as a kid for her parents' pursuits, so i can empathiz...more
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Rachel Manija Brown is the author of all sorts of stories in all sorts of genres. Most of her works are listed below, but she has also written television, plays, video games, and a comic strip meant to be silk-screened on to a scarf. In her other identity, she is a trauma/PTSD therapist.

If you'd like to review Stranger, please message her.

If you'd like to be alerted when Stranger comes out, copy...more
More about Rachel Manija Brown...
Stranger (The Change, #1) A Cup of Smoke: stories and poems Project Blue Rose Project Blue Rose: Human Touch (Book 2) Chain Mail: Addicted to You

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