Read: June 28 - 30 Verdict: 4 Stars
I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.
Mukta did not have a great start to life, and has experienced traumatic events that no-one should ever have to go to. With her sparkling green eyes, fair skin and glossy hair, Mukta is desired by many but the only thing Mukta wants is for her father to come and take her away.
Tara immediately befriends Mukta when the orphaned girl is brought to stay with her and rehabilitate. before long, a couple of weeks becomes several years and the girls are as inseparable as sisters. Until one night, Mukta is stolen in the night.
Now an adult Tara has returned to Bombay to search for Mukta and relieve the guilt that she has felt that night. For Tara knows the real reason that Mukta disappeared.
This story is a poignant tale of a female friendship that spans decades and never leaves hearts. A tale that shows the gritty, ugly side of the kind of human trafficking that still exists in backstreet India and highlights the people who will do anything to try and save those affected by it.
While Mukta and Tara, in theory, should have led similar lives, they are separated by a huge bridge due to their different upbringings. Tara was spoiled as the child of a father who was well respected within his new city community and a mother who doted on both husband and daughter. While Mukta was the daughter of the temple prostitute, and treated like dirt by most people she came into contact with. However, while the girls came together and should have progressed in education and their future, they were both held back, in different ways, by cultural superstitions.
While Mukta's story was, at times, difficult to read, it really highlighted the importance of trying to stop the human trafficking problem in India. I never knew about the temple prostitutes and how it is still considered a norm in today's society to initiate girls as young as eight into this kind of society.
I definitely preferred Mukta's story rather than Tara's as the latter became rather whiney and repetitive at times, feeling sorry for herself and embroiled in her own guilt for what happened to her friend. Mukta, on the other hand, despite her horrid circumstances seemed to be able to put on a braver face.
The best way to describe this book is a female, Indian version of The Kite Runner. It contains the same strength of friendship spanning over years, the same search to relieve a guilty soul and the same kind of inside look at a culture and country far from your own. Overall, this is a well-rounded book that, despite hitting heavy topics, is an extremely engrossing and enjoyable read.
Also, I have to mention how beautiful the cover is. Absolutely breathtaking.