Life { Faith } Tea

and ramblings on everything in between

Read Along with Me: The Space Between Us #1

read-along-2

Anyone up for a virtual book club this fall? Engaging conversation, good reads, and blogging – all from the comfort of home!

Sam from Taking on a World of Words started a Read Along with Me group this summer, where we tackled The Maze Runner. Check out the group’s homepage to learn more about the group and how you can join. The basic premise is we read the novel in 50-page chunks every two weeks and then email questions to one another to discuss on our blogs. You’ll be seeing posts about our current selection every other Tuesday this fall.

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar is the story of two women from vastly different economic classes in India – a rich widow and a poor housemaid. The synopsis from Amazon goes something like this,

“Alternatively told through the eyes of Sera, a Parsi widow whose pregnant daughter and son-in-law share her elegant home, and Bhima, the elderly housekeeper who must support her orphaned granddaughter, Umrigar does an admirable job of creating two sympathetic characters whose bond goes far deeper than that of employer and employee.

When we first meet Bhima, she is sharing a thin mattress with Maya, the granddaughter upon whom high hopes and dreams were placed, only to be shattered by an unexpected pregnancy and its disastrous consequences. As time goes on, we learn that Sera and her family have used their power and money time and time again to influence the lives of Bhima and Maya, from caring for Bhima’s estranged husband after a workplace accident, to providing the funds for Maya’s college education. We also learn that Sera’s seemingly privileged life is not as it appears; after enduring years of cruelty under her mother-in-law’s roof, she faced physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband, pain that only Bhima could see and alleviate. Yet through the triumphs and tragedies, Sera and Bhima always shared a bond that transcended class and race; a bond shared by two women whose fate always seemed to rest in the hands of others, just outside their control.”

 

In the first 50 pages we learn a little bit about the trials Bhima and Sera are up against, and the parallelism between them.

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Chapters 1 – 5

From Claudia: Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation like Maya’s? Where your decisions and choices have been the core conflict of your life? 

 

Fortunately, I’ve never found myself in as dire of a situation as Maya, where so many things are on the line because of the fact that she is a poor, unmarried, soon-to-be teenage mother. I’ve definitely come to a crossroads in my life where the outward me was chasing after things in the hopes of finding happiness, but succeed in only creating conflict and tension with the inward me.

 

Perhaps Maya’s struggle came along because of a deep desire to find someone who would save her from the slums and promise the start of a new life. If this is so, and the baby daddy promised her lots of things in exchange for her “love,” then how ironic it would be that the one thing she hoped would save her from the misery of poverty could turn into the thing that ties her to it forever.

 

Running this through the filter of those who are not in the novel but still play a role in the outcome of these women, it could be that Maya is attempting to fill the empty space in her life from the lack of a mother (Has the author mentioned anything about her mother yet? I can’t remember.) and the lack of a supportive and loving male figure in her life. Bhima and Sera’s husbands left behind burdens instead of helping to relieve them. Right now, it looks as if that is what Maya’s lover is going to do too.

 

From Sam: We’re presented with four women who it seems will guide us through this book: Bhima, Maya, Sera, and Dinaz. We’re very easily drawn to the parallels between Bhima and Sera (employee and employer) but what parallels do you see between Maya and Dinaz? In what ways do you think their lives have been parallel and will parallel in the rest of the story?

 

If the author details their lives throughout the novel, it will be interesting to see the differences between a girl of privilege, in a marriage and in a safe home, compared to a girl in poverty, in a shameful situation with no resources to provide for herself and her child. Will Bhima extend grace to Maya and help her raise her child? Will Dinaz find herself in an abusive, unhappy marriage like her mother? These situations lend themselves to displaying that wealth does not mean or create the best of lives. If the girls can’t have all the parts of a “happy” life, then what parts would they chose to live with?

 

I assume the memories and fears that were left over from the ones who have passed on or moved on might be motivation for the choices all the women make. Even though those particular people are no longer in their present life, scars can run deep.

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8 comments on “Read Along with Me: The Space Between Us #1

  1. Sam
    September 23, 2014

    You reminded me of one more person who’s not present in the novel but has a huge impact; the father of Maya’s child. I hadn’t considered how much he has influenced the story and we still have no idea who he is. Likely, we never will find out.

    I love your paragraph about Maya finding her way out of the slums. It seemed like going to school was her way out, but she may have felt that it wasn’t enough and that she’d need a man to support her and love her to rise as high as she wanted. It’s starting to seem like it’s too late for her, but I really hope she can still find her way.

    Thanks so much for participating! I’m loving this book so far.

    • Claudia {SparrowHawk}
      September 29, 2014

      I hadn’t considered the affect and toll the unborn baby is taking on the plot of the story as a whole either! I’m mostly focused on situation at home with Bhima’s abuse and Maya’s natural instinct to protect her baby. Also, the emotional distress can’t be good for the baby, I’ve read that the babies not only experience external stimuli but also its mother’s feelings. 😦

  2. Claudia {SparrowHawk}
    September 29, 2014

    “If the girls can’t have all the parts of a “happy” life, then what parts would they chose to live with?”

    I think that is where we will come to enjoy the story most. Yes, money buys comfort and happiness, but I think it also buys less than what most people think. For example, celebrities, I’d say they are at an advantage because they are able to spend their money on better nutrition, better health care, their work is not as demanding as the common worker, and still, some aren’t that much happier than those who have less. Sadly, some turn to drugs, alcoholic and even suicide.

    All things aside, I feel the ladies in this story will need to simply look beyond their imperfections and explore what defines their happiness, because Sera’s definition of happiness may not be Bhima’s definition. I’d say this what makes humanity so beautiful and intriguing 🙂

    • Sam
      September 29, 2014

      Great way to phrase it, Claudia! Everyone can define their own happiness in a different way and I don’t think Sera’s life would make Bhima happy even though she envies parts of it. I think she would miss the sense of worth from working and would feel distant from her granddaughter.

  3. Ashlee
    September 29, 2014

    I’m glad we’re taking on a more serious novel this time around! There is definitely a lot of depth to this story, and I love the author’s writing style. And I like that I haven’t established a strong connection with one of the main characters yet. They all have room to surprise me. On to the next set of chapters!

  4. Pingback: What Fall Does to Me | Life { Faith } Tea

  5. Pingback: Read Along with Me: The Space Between Us #2 | Life { Faith } Tea

  6. Pingback: Read Along with Me: The Space Between Us #3 | Life { Faith } Tea

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This entry was posted on September 23, 2014 by in Book Review and tagged , , , .

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