Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
The author of the Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows follows her acclaimed America debut with this life-affirming, witty family drama—an Indian This Is Where I Leave You—about three Punjabi sisters embarking on a pilgrimage to their homeland to lay their mother to rest.
“There’s no greater show of love and faith than traveling a long distance for somebody.”
The Unlikely Adventures of Shergill Sisters follows the story of three British Punjabi sisters – Rajni, Jezmeen, and Shirina who have been asked to undertake a pilgrimage on behalf of their mother. Three sisters who could not have been more unlike each other. It is a mother’s effort to get her daughters to reconnect. Through the course of the journey, we become privy to each sister’s secrets, her resentments, and particularly her need to break free. It is a light read that is entertaining yet thought-provoking.
The book explores the disconnect the second generation Indians feel with their country of origin. And the fact that they rarely fit in. It is particularly evident in Jezmeen’s story, a character who has not had a chance to visit India. As soon as the sisters land in India, they are exposed to a country that puts up a facade of modernity but is still deeply rooted in archaic traditions and mindset.
It has bits of social commentary as well. It picks on significant and hot button topics while not being too preachy. The fact that female infanticide is as prevalent in the well-heeled members of society. Why does the man need to be older than the woman in a relationship? Why aren’t daughters allowed to conduct the last rites? Why are most religious ceremonies conducted by men? Why do daughters still not have equal rights to property? The author has seamlessly introduced a dialogue on the issues by means of conversation between the characters.
Being a Sikh, I enjoyed reading about the pilgrimage too. I do agree with the author that Harminder Sahib takes your breath away, no matter how many times you visit it.
My only grouse was a bit of a contrived ending. Of being at the right place at the right time. Other than that, I enjoyed reading the book and would definitely recommend picking it up.
The book is available for pre-order at Amazon India