Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Genre: Love; Family; Racism; Dreams
From the bestselling author of Sister of My Heart comes a spellbinding tale of mothers and daughters, love and cultural identity. Rakhi, a young painter and single mother, is struggling to come to terms with her relationship with ex-husband Sonny, a hip Bay Area DJ, and with her dream-teller mother, who has rarely spoken about her past or her native India. Rakhi has her hands full, juggling a creative dry spell, raising her daughter, and trying to save the Berkeley teahouse she and her best friend Belle own. But greater challenges are to come. When a national tragedy turns her world upside down and Rakhi needs her mother’s strength and wisdom more than ever, she loses her in a freak car accident. But uncovering her mother’s dream journals allows Rakhi to discover her mother’s long-kept secrets and sacrifices–and ultimately to confront her fears, forge a new relationship with her father, and revisit Sonny’s place in her heart.
I first came across Divakaruni in high school, where in the school library I came across her novels “Sister of my Heart” and “Arranged Marriage”. After reading these novels, I absolutely fell in love with her writing as I really loved how she showed how none of her characters were perfect. I appreciated how she delved into the character’s flaws instead of having characters who were so perfect but for some reason had so many problems. So after reading those books, I began to read more of her work and ended up with the “Queen of Dreams”. (To tell the truth, I was drawn to this novel because I am guilty of being a daydreamer). Her way of words, go deep into the struggles of women as they venture into marriage, career and relationships.
The protagonist Rakhi, is introduced as a complex person who struggles to deal with her relationship with her father, her ex-husband and her dead mother. As Rakhi attempts to improve her stressed relationship with her father she is faced with her mother’s secrets. Through this journey she realises that not everyone is as they seems as well as the sacrifices loved ones make to help those around them.
In this novel, I really liked the point in the novel where Rakhi as an Indian, born in America battles with racism as she is thrown away just for being brown. As a brown single mom, Rakhi began to question who she belonged to or where she belonged to in this world.
Definitely read for the magic, love and pain. Divakaruni explores how people we idealise may not be able to live up to our image of them stressing our relationship with them. Sometimes we may think our parents, husband, wife or a celebrity are a superhero, someone who will come flying to save us. But in reality, not matter how much they love you and want to be your hero, they are human just like you.