Zeek's Reviews > The Space Between Us

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
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's review
Nov 08, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction, literary, fiction-modern-cultural-setting, something-borrowed
Read from October 13 to November 06, 2011

Visceral, frightening that this kind of world exists for women- still, and unbelievably sad, I had a hard time getting through this book- especially when I figured out a major plot twist early on. However sharply this novel focuses on the life of a poor woman in Bombay India, which it did well, it lacked a certain sense of hope that I need by the end of a tale to make me fall for a story.

Sure Bhima, the main character, let go of her pain in the end, and I suppose sometimes the sense of utter hopelessness and inevitability makes for gripping story telling as it engages quite a few emotions. But every man in this book treated women as offal to be wiped from the bottom of their shoes and more damning for me, the women betrayed each other at just about every turn. Because of this, the simple metaphoric ending just wasn't... enough. (Especially considering all they went through.) If this were non-fiction I wouldn't have the same desire because I know full well how very real these situations are. But when its told in fiction, I like to see a redemptive resolution.

Perhaps if we had some sorta epilogue letting us know the women are okay? I don't know, their stories just begged for reparation, even if it only meant them living free from bitterness for once, however fantastical it seems. As mentioned earlier, something of the sort is alluded to at the end, but we don't get to see it and that frustrated me.

I cant believe I'm saying this but I almost wish Bhima had committed suicide at the end- like I *thought* we were headed- although I would have hated that too. At least it wouldn’t have felt so artificial. (Umrigar was so real with everything else- Why end it with a cheap metaphor??)

Here's something about me and books- even if I don’t like the way a plot or ending goes, if it’s true to the characters I can at least respect it. This felt too contrived.

So yeah. Not for me. Not a bad writer- she made Bhima's pain filled world feel very real- but in the end disappointing.
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Reading Progress

10/13/2011 page 23
7.0% "Immediately i'm struck with the genuine feel of the narration. Good choice Sweet Blues! :)" 3 comments
10/19/2011 page 90
26.0% "Reading books like this makes me feel two things A)Grateful for the life I was given and B) Happy I chose to stay single. for now anyway."
10/24/2011 page 112
32.0% "omg I know who got Bhima's granddaughter pregnant. I dont know how I know- I just do."
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Regina I think the problem is this, "Perhaps if we had some sorta epilogue letting us know the women are okay?" -- they likely were not going to be okay. :( I know what you mean though, it was not uplifting at all. We read it for my book club, and it did inspire our book club to try to figure out how we could help or make a difference. So many things were just shocking in this book -- two that stand out to me, the water access situation and then the indifference by the wealthy class of the struggles of those who were poor.

message 2: by Zeek (last edited Nov 08, 2011 08:17AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Zeek See but they would be okay, or as ok as they can be in those circumstances, just by letting go of hate and bitterness and instead believe the best of each other for once. (Perhaps, "better than they were if only by a smidge" is more accurate.) That's all they could do right then and that is being rich in spirit, imo and the beginning of making their way out.

Again I get that that's where the author was headed- I only needed to see it... even if it was going back and giving Maya a hug and saying we're gonna get through this together! The metaphor of letting go of the balloons was cheap and hokey. If they werent going to be ok- then why do that at all? Just let her end it at that ledge and be down with it.

BUT believe me it IS difficult to get there when you've been shat on continually. I get that. (But not impossible). My point was just that, this being fiction and all... well you know what I'm saying.

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