Life { Faith } Tea

and ramblings on everything in between

Read Along with Me: The Space Between Us #2


I posted a few weeks ago about the Read Along with Me virtual book club I’m a part of this fall. You can be a part of it too! To learn more, you can check out Sam’s Taking on a World of Words blog or the group’s homepage. 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. Click here to see what I had to say about Chapters 1 – 5 of The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar.


Chapters 6 – 8

 In this set of chapters, we learn a little more about Sera and Feroz’s early marriage, and the space that was created between them just a few weeks after saying “I do.” There are glimpses of how one partner suffers when the other partner is domineering – especially between Banu and Freddy, Sera’s in-laws. Honestly, Freddy is becoming a favorite secondary character of mine. He is endearing to Sera and has a secret passion and love for life, which Banu has stifled for years I assume. Sera was probably a breath of fresh air for Freddy during the time they lived together.

From Sam: My best guess is that this book takes place in the mid 1970s. The caste system in India officially ended in 1950, but people still know what caste they would have belonged to were the system formalized. Twenty-five or more years past the castes, how do you think this culture has held on to the caste system? Will they ever be rid of it?

I think a caste system is something that would be hard to eradicate completely in any culture. Formally it might not be there, but it is still something that each person who lived through it carries with them whether they want to or not. Generational divides will need to be overcome for the hurt, suffering, pride, judgment, you name it to be overcome. To be completely honest, I feel the US is still trying to overcome racism almost 150 years after the Civil War. It doesn’t surprise me that 25 years later people are still trying to overcome their caste, or are still carrying around the judgment of other people’s castes.
Also from Sam: In Chapter 8, we see Bhima be so compassionate toward Rajeev. Can we explain her compassion toward a man who carries groceries when compared with her cruelty toward her own granddaughter?
Great observation. She almost needs to redeem herself in a way. Sometimes the ones that are closest to us get the brunt of our anger. Bhima looks at the world around her and has a desire to help, but admits that she has been burned by the ones she loves so much that she doesn’t want the responsibility of loving anyone else. This plays out in her anger toward Maya and her pregnancy, who she loves deeply and is so disappointed in. But a stranger is the one who gets her kindness and sympathy. Seems unfair, but I know this happens in my life too.

From Claudia: As Sera observed the Muslim couple with their fingers intertwined, she sensed envy towards their affections. What do you think the author, Thrity, wanted to convey through this comparison? The comparison being Sera and the Muslim woman. 

On the outside, Sera seems to be the one that is “free” from the constraints of religious tradition and from her husband’s rule. She can dress as she pleases. She can make decisions as she pleases. But the covered Muslim woman is openly receiving affection from her husband. While Sera might look at her and judge her faith, that woman has something that she longs for in her own relationship with her own husband. I think Thrity is driving home that it’s so easy to make assumptions about people’s lives and to compare ourselves to them when we only know the tip of iceberg more often than not.

And our musing topic from Claudia: Sera’s response to Banu’s abuse remains kind and compassionate. Even at the present moment, where she visits her bedridden mother-in-law. At what degree does one draw the line!? From what we know of Sera’s character thus far, how do you think the abuse has shaped her world and persona?

My first thought after reading this question was Matthew 18:21-22: “Peter asks, ‘Lord how many times shall I forgive my brothers and sisters who sin against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus responds, ‘I tell you not seven times, but seventy seven times.'” This coming from a man who would sacrifice himself for people who didn’t care or believe in him. His forgiveness was unbelieveable. Mine on the other hand? Not always so loving.

I agree with you that eventually you do have to draw the line. There is a difference between extending forgiveness for when you are wronged, but to continually be manipulated and abused by someone is not what should come from that forgiveness. In my modern day take on it, I don’t know where I would have cut her off. On one hand she’s on her deathbed after living a miserable life, one that was filled with misery due to her own hand. Yes, she made others miserable, but how lonely and awful she must have felt inside to treat others the way she did. That is a life I would wish on no one, especially someone who won’t get a second chance at making it right. But on the other hand, how do you find it in yourself to continue to extend her grace? It’s a testament to Sera’s character. After all the years of abuse and abandonment she endured, she is refusing to do the same even to the person she hates. That takes guts.


This book proposes some powerful topics! I’m so glad we’re dissecting it section by section. For more musing, check out what Claudia and Sam had to say.


2 comments on “Read Along with Me: The Space Between Us #2

  1. Sam
    October 15, 2014

    “In this set of chapters, we learn a little more about Sera and Feroz’s early marriage, and the space that was created between them just a few weeks after saying “I do.”” I see what you did there! Nice use of the title.

    You make a great point about racism in the US 150 years after the Civil War. Getting rid of something formal (we’re now 50+ years past the Civil Rights movement) doesn’t mean getting rid of it in practice. That really helps put this book in perspective.

    I love your evaluation of freedom between Sera and the Muslim woman. Apparent freedom and actual freedom can be very different and I think that’s a huge part of what Umrigar was trying to say with this scene.

    Great point about Banu not having a chance to right the wrongs she’s committed. She has no chance to apologize and perhaps Sera sees her own actions as an acceptance of the apology she’s assuming Banu would give her. It might be for her own sanity, but it’s helping the poor woman and herself, so no harm done.

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

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This entry was posted on October 7, 2014 by in Book Review and tagged , , , .

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