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Other Waters: A Novel by Eleni N. Gage

Other Waters: A Novel

by Eleni N. Gage

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This book had interesting characters and potential however, I felt it was not handled very well. Maya the lead character seems to vacillate a lot and the ending is rather unsatisfactory. ( )
  Writermala | Sep 22, 2015 |
***This was a goodreads.com contest win.***

this was a wonderful book about life. This author has captured what many people try int here writing. This was simply a great book. Wonderful characters with a great plot that was well written. Thank for allowing me to read this. ( )
  kybunnies | Oct 19, 2014 |
Book Title: "Other Waters”
Author: Eleni N. Gage
Published By: St. Martin’s Press
Age Recommended: 18+
Reviewed By: Kitty Bullard
Raven Rating: 5

Review: Eleni’s writing style and the story itself somewhat reminded me of “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. The heroine, Maya has the perfect life in the states, but when tragedy strikes the family she finds herself not only in the position to save them all, but to make a journey that soon has her finding herself.
This story is timeless, beautifully written and a spectacular read that I highly recommend, a journey even the reader will not forget. ( )
  RavenswoodPublishing | Jul 6, 2012 |
When the culture a child is raised in is very different than the one in which her parents were raised, it is bound to cause some friction as much literature dealing with immigrants and first and second generations attests. But does this disconnect or balancing act between two cultures get any easier when the younger generation gets a bit older and has the perspective to see and understand the older generation's opinions and beliefs? The dichotomy of belonging to two very different cultures, the desire for familial approval, and finding love and acceptance are all key themes running through Eleni Gage's newest novel, Other Waters.

Maya is a psychiatry resident living in New York City. Her life is happily settled. She enjoys her chosen field. She has a great boyfriend. And her family is close and loving. The one fly in the ointment is that she is downright reluctant to introduce her boyfriend Scott to her family as anything other than a friend because he is very obviously not Indian and she knows that a non-Hindi boyfriend would certainly upset her parents. But her inability to acknowledge her relationship with Scott takes a back seat to other aspects of her life when her beloved grandmother in India dies. Dadiji's death not only sets Maya a bit adrift, but a property dispute with a house servant brings down a curse on Maya's family. And even though Maya is an American, a doctor, an almost psychologist, and a pragmatist, when terrible things start to plague her family members, she can't help but wonder if this Brahmin curse could possibly be real.

When Maya goes to India with her best friend Heidi for her cousin's wedding, she is determined to defuse the power this curse has over her and her family's life. As she searches for Parvati, the girl who uttered the curse, Maya is also on a search for her own authentic self, the woman who is both Indian and American and can honor both parts of her life openly and proudly. Maya and Heidi's journey through India is beautifully drawn and enthralling. The heavily laden tradition and ritual that they encounter is completely beguiling, allowing Maya to better understand her cultural heritage and the place that resonates so deeply for her parents despite their longtime life in Kalamazoo, MI. The trip to India marks a new beginning for Maya, one in which she can start to integrate what she wants with what her family wants for her.

There is a whole cast of characters in this novel, some more fully drawn than others. Maya herself can come across as quite immature for the thirty year old woman she is. Despite her psychiatry background and the therapy she is undergoing as part of her degree, she certainly dosn't allow herself to know her own innermost thoughts and feelings very well. But this changes as the book progresses and while she still makes some questionable decisions, she is coming much closer to being able to be happy in her own skin. Being torn between two cultures can't possibly be easy, especially when the two cultures are as different as traditional Hindi culture and mainstream American culture, and Gage has presented the dichotomy clearly and fairly. She's captured the essence of generational differences and the difficulty (and sometimes the unadvisedness) of assimilation. With appealing characters and settings that shine and although the ending is rather a let down, simply ending without any sort of closure, this novel was a good and solid read that I quite enjoyed. ( )
  whitreidtan | Apr 2, 2012 |
This review first appeared on my blog: http://www.knittingandsundries.com/2012/02/other-waters-by-eleni-n-gage-book.htm...

Maya is a second-year psychiatry resident, an Indian-American who is keeping her long-term relationship with her boyfriend Scott a secret from her parents, especially her mother, who wants nothing more than for her to find a nice Indian boy to settle down with. Her sister Priya married Tariq, who is Indian, but Muslim, and even now, two children later, her mother Seema has still not fully accepted him.

After her grandmother dies in India, her father Ajit, in India to keep an eye on his mom before she died, calls Maya and tells her (somewhat sheepishly, after all, superstitions and curses are not something modern people are supposed to believe in) that Parvati, the woman who lived in Dadyi's home, put a curse on his family. Not just any curse, either, but a Brahman curse - more powerful than most and one that will supposedly affect the blood.

When bad things start happening to Maya's family, she hopes that a trip back to India for a family wedding with her best friend Heidi will give her the chance to find Parvati and counteract the curse that by now, Maya at least halfway believes in.

For me, this novel got off to a confusing start, but soon smoothed itself out. I enjoyed the cross-cultural references and the friendship between Maya and Heidi, as well as the true-to-life relationship between Maya and her family. I found myself quite a bit peeved at Maya for not introducing Scott to her family - after all, they'd been together, off and on, for seven years. It seemed to me that an intelligent woman of almost thirty should simply square her shoulders up and take any heat that she might get from her family.

The ending kind of just ... ended, but in a way that I didn't fully expect. Believe it or not, the character that I enjoyed most was Seema, Maya's mother. She is quietly strong, and in spite of how Maya perceives her throughout most of the book, seems to be the one with the most character and honesty.

If you like a touch of romance mixed with a bit of Bollywood, you will like this book.

QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in final copy):

. . . she hadn't been able to control any of them. Mohan, Seema's beloved eldest, her only son, resisted medicine, going into advertising instead, which, to Maya's parents, was akin to renting a hovel and attempting to write the great Indian-American novel. Priya, the pretty daughter, was a doctor, and a real one, not a psychiatrist, but she had married a Muslim and seldom visited the temple anymore.

Seema said a vegetarian with a leather bag was nothing but a hypocrite, and she had apparently raised two of those, which was quite enough for any family.

You carried all of the people you loved into your present and future, even if just in a small way, Maya realized.

Writing: 4 out of 5 stars
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Characters: 3 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 3 out 5 stars

BOOK RATING: 3.4 out of 5 stars ( )
  jewelknits | Feb 28, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312658516, Hardcover)

“A Jane Austen-ish plot gets a delicious Indian accent in this effervescent novel by former PEOPLE editor Gage . . . in this exotic, mysterious setting, cultures collide, love grows more complicated and Maya finally discovers just whom – and where – she is really meant to be.” --People, ****
Maya is an accomplished psychiatry resident with a supportive boyfriend, loving family, and bustling New York social life. When her grandmother dies in India, a family squabble over property ignites a curse that drifts across continents and threatens Maya's life. Or so her father says-- Maya (being a modern woman, an American, and a doctor) doesn't believe in curses, Brahman, or otherwise. But then a series of calamities befalls her family, her career and relationship both falter, and Maya starts to worry. She hopes a trip back to India with her best friend, Heidi, will enable her to remove the curse, save her family, and put her own life back in order. Thus begins a journey into Maya's parallel worlds-- New York and an India filled with loving and annoying relatives, vivid colors, and superstitious customs she doesn't, and does, believe in. But her time in India isn't just a visit "home" or a chance to explore the strengthening and suffocating bonds of family, it's also the beginning of a cathartic quest toward forging one identity out of two cultues as Maya learns unexpected lessons about life and love.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:32 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Her happy life in New York shattered by a property dispute in India that culminates in her father's claim that a curse has been placed on them, Maya rejects family superstitions until a series of misfortunes prompts her to visit relatives in India to break the curse.… (more)

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