As is the case with most of the author-provided books I read, I’ll admit my expectations were somewhat on the low side when I picked up All the Tomorrows. I’m a critical reader – or perhaps a more accurate term is a picky reader – and while I enjoy plenty of books, I’m not one to gush just because it offered me a good story. No, there has to be more than that. I need good characters, I need evocative writing, I need a well-constructed setting. Give me a fun story, and you can expect a solid 3 stars. Give me those extras, and the rating goes up.
Guys, I read the Nasser’s first sentence and knew I had something special.
All the Tomorrows is, truthfully, a bit out of my comfort zone. It’s set in India, and centers on two people who’ve fallen into an arranged marriage. The marriage fails, and the two go their separate ways, but not without trauma and heartbreak. We get to experience both sides of it, and both sides are equally painful.
Nasser has written incredible characters in Jaya and Akash. It’s no surprise that I have a thing for broken characters, and these two…man, these two. Broken is probably too kind of a word. But the thing about a good broken character is that they’re still redeemable. Yes, they do awful things. Yes, they moan about the results of those awful things. And yet….they go on. They fight. They wallow. They fight some more. They make dumb decisions and good decisions, and eventually, either heal or at the very least, accept their circumstances. And soon enough, a broken character becomes beautiful.
I loved the way Nasser deals with the ramifications of each character’s choices. It’s often a fine line between using societal norms as a crutch or using them to enhance the tension, and Nasser walks that line incredibly well. I raged for Jaya, I raged for Akash, and through it all, I respected their culture and heritage and values. What initially seemed archaic and brutal and repressive also, at times, made me long for that kind of sense of cultural identity and conviction. I credit Nasser’s writing for that.
Now, those of you who’ve skipped straight down to the rating (it’s ok, I do it too), will want to know why I’ve only given it four stars. I was all set to give it five, until literally the last paragraph. All of a sudden, the story just ended. It was so abrupt that I scrolled through to make sure I hadn’t skipped a page. Endings are one of the things that can either make or break a story for me. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but it does need to make sense. This one felt like someone told Nasser, ok, you have to stop now. It’s been several days, and I’m still scratching my head about it.
Despite the strange ending, I can’t say enough good things about All the Tomorrows. If I have one other complaint, it’s that I wish it had a snazzier cover. Pick this one up and be ready to fall in love with Jaya, Akash, and their story.
Paperback: 308 pages Published: November 2017 by Evolved Source: Author Provided
All the Tomorrows on Goodreads
Sometimes we can’t escape the webs we are born into. Sometimes we are the architects of our own fall.
Akash Choudry wants a love for all time, not an arranged marriage. Still, under the weight of parental hopes, he agrees to one. He and Jaya marry in a cloud of colour and spice in Bombay. Their marriage has barely begun when Akash embarks on an affair.
Jaya cannot contemplate sharing her husband with another woman, or looking past his indiscretions as her mother suggests. Cornered by sexual politics, she takes her fate into her own hands in the form of a lit match.
Nothing endures fire. As shards of their past threaten their future, will Jaya ever bloom into the woman she can be, and will redemption be within Akash’s reach?
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