In the spirit of Khaled Hosseini, Nadia Hashimi and Shilpi Somaya Gowda comes this powerful debut from a talented new voice—a sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends in Mumbai, India, whose lives converge only to change forever one fateful night.
India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old village girl from the lower caste Yellama cult has come of age and must fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute, as her mother and grandmother did before her. In an attempt to escape her fate, Mukta is sent to be a house girl for an upper-middle class family in Mumbai. There she discovers a friend in the daughter of the family, high spirited eight-year-old Tara, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to an entirely different world—one of ice cream, reading, and a friendship that soon becomes a sisterhood.
But one night in 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s family home and disappears. Shortly thereafter, Tara and her father move to America. A new life in Los Angeles awaits them but Tara never recovers from the loss of her best friend, or stops wondering if she was somehow responsible for Mukta's abduction.
Eleven years later, Tara, now an adult, returns to India determined to find Mukta. As her search takes her into the brutal underground world of human trafficking, Tara begins to uncover long-buried secrets in her own family that might explain what happened to Mukta—and why she came to live with Tara’s family in the first place.
Moving from a traditional Indian village to the bustling modern metropolis of Mumbai, to Los Angeles and back again, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and, ultimately, redemption.
Finely woven threads of friendship, womanhood, and hope sustain Trasi's striking debut novel. In an upper-caste neighborhood in 1988 Mumbai, eight-year-old Tara and 10-year-old Mukta form an unlikely bond that seeds tumultuous change. Born the daughter of a temple prostitute in the countryside, Mukta serves Tara's family in return for salvation from the hard, dark life to which she had been consigned. Precocious, bold Tara ignores their differences and wins over grief-stricken Mukta. But after the tragic 1993 bombings in Mumbai forever change Tara and her activist father, Mukta is kidnapped. The girls' bifurcated story spans 14 years. Tara and her father move to the United States but fail to outrun their grief. Mukta is sold back into the sex trade, where her poetic heart, reality-tempered optimism, and memories of Tara's friendship sustain her. But Tara returns to face her past and her guilt, and to seek her friend in the sprawl of Mumbai. The novel eschews the monolithic spectacle of India as a giant colorful circus (or worse, a giant, squalid slum) for a chiaroscuro of hope and grief, and trades worn westernized tropes for depth of character. Grounded in Trasi's own childhood in Mumbai, this is a graceful, bittersweet novel of tragedy and tradition.)