**Contains minor spoilers – read with caution**
I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book so beautiful and so haunting
I received a copy of this book for free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before.As time goes by, their bond grows to be as strong as that between sisters. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room.
Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family. Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.
Ugh, that cover kills me! So gorgeous.
This is going to be a little incoherent because I can’t seem to focus my emotions into a concise piece.
I have immense love for this book and I wish there were more people reading it. This tells a heartbreaking tale of two young girls whose lives are changed inextricably forever when one makes a rash decision.
“We should have known better, but hope always outweighs reason.”
I really like that this book spans decades and we get to know these characters as children and then again as adults. There are some clear distinctions between the characters and it was interesting and insanely heartbreaking to see how vastly different their life experiences became.
Tara: Tara is a prime example of childhood folly. After the death of her mother – which she blames on Mutka – she makes a snap decision that changes the lives of everyone around her. Eleven years later and filled with remorse, she leaves her comfortable life and her fiance in LA to return to India to find Mutka. What she finds instead is a seedy underbelly of children sold into prostitution and a slave trade that runs deeper than she could’ve imagined. Becoming a pseudo-advocate for rescuing these women, Tara makes an unnerving and chilling discovery about the women she once considered a sister.
Mutka: Poor, poor Mutka. A shunned child who is given pity on by a man and his family unfortunately does not manage to catch a break the entire book. Despised by the woman of the home she lives in and chastised by her best friend and sister after a tragic event, Mutka is kidnapped and seems to disappear of the face of the earth. It is later revealed that Mutka was sold into child prostitution and has since made a living as a prostitute for a nasty woman who will not release her because of debts owed by her family. After years of torture and manipulation, Mutka falls pregnant and gives birth to a little girl herself. Now with a renewed sense of life, it becomes her mission to get out and start a new life for herself and her daughter.
We are privy to a bittersweet reunion between Tara and Mutka that is unfortunately short lived. I really wanted this to be wrapped up in a nice little package with a pretty bow but unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out that way.
This is quite an emotionally draining story but I think it is well worth the read – particularly if you are looking for a book with a stunning Indian background.
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