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If Today Be Sweet (P.S.) Paperback – Bargain Price, May 27, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Umrigar's tender fourth novel, Tehmina "Tammy" Sethna is torn between two cultures that couldn't be more different: Bombay and Cleveland. The former is her homeland, but after her husband's recent death, she's been staying with her son and his family in America. Tehmina loves being near grandson Cookie, but she often feels like an intruder in her American daughter-in-law's home, and she's disconcerted by the changes in her son, Sorab, who is stressed from the corporate rat race. Though Tehmina's loneliness floods her with memories of her husband, the Parsi community back in India and her traditional ways, she finds no small amount of purpose (and celebrity) in Cleveland after suspecting her neighbor of child abuse and intervening on the children's behalf. Immigration laws, meanwhile, force her to decide whether she'll remain in Cleveland or return to Bombay. Umrigar (The Space Between Us) shows the unseemly side of American excess and prejudice while gently reminding readers of opportunities sometimes taken for granted. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

At the opening of Umrigar's poignant new novel (after The Space between Us, 2006), Tehmina, a middle-aged widow from India, is visiting her 38-year-old son, Sorab, his American wife, and son at their home in Ohio. (Sorab left his native India for graduate school in the U.S. and has lived there ever since.) Heartbroken by the death of her beloved husband, Tehmina is hardly in a position to face the life-altering choice before her: to settle in with Sorab in the safe, antiseptic Midwest or to live out her days in earthy, chaotic Bombay. Tehmina must make up her mind soon: her tourist visa is about to expire, and the lack of privacy in their home is putting stress on her son and daughter-in-law. Meanwhile, Tehmina's quiet, private life becomes very public when she rescues two neighborhood children from domestic abuse. Umrigar renders a sublime, cross-cultural tale about lives driven by tradition and transformed by love. Block, Allison
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061240249
  • ASIN: B002KE46G8
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,434,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thrity Umrigar is the best-selling author of the novels Bombay Time, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, The Weight of Heaven, The World We Found and The Story Hour. She is also the author of the memoir, First Darling of the Morning. Her books have been translated into several languages and published in over fifteen countries. She is the Armington Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
The Space Between Us was a finalist for the PEN/Beyond Margins award, while her memoir was a finalist for the Society of Midland Authors award. If Today Be Sweet was a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection, while her other books have been Community Reads selections. Thrity is the winner of the Cleveland Arts Prize, a Lambda Literary award and the Seth Rosenberg prize.
Thrity was born in Bombay, India and came to the U.S. when she was 21. As a Parsi child attending a Catholic school in a predominantly Hindu country, she had the kind of schizophrenic and cosmopolitan childhood that has served her well in her life as a writer. Accused by teachers and parents alike of being a daydreaming, head-in-the-clouds child, she grew up lost in the fictional worlds created by Steinbeck, Hemingway, Woolf and Faulkner. She would emerge long enough from these books to create her own fictional and poetic worlds. Encouraged by her practical-minded parents to get an undergraduate degree in business, Thrity survived business school by creating a drama club and writing, directing and acting in plays. Her first short stories, essays and poems were published in national magazines and newspapers in India at age fifteen.
After earning a M.A. in journalism in the U.S., Thrity worked for several years as an award-winning reporter, columnist and magazine writer. She also earned a Ph.D. in English. In 1999, Thrity won a one-year Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University, which is given to mid-career journalists.
While at Harvard, Thrity wrote her first novel, Bombay Time. In 2002 she accepted a teaching position at Case Western Reserve University, where she is now the Armington Professor of English. She also does occasional freelance pieces for national publications and has written for the Washington Post and the Boston Globe's book pages.
Thrity is active on the national lecture circuit and has spoken at book festivals such as the L.A. Festival of Books, the Tuscon Book Festival and the Miami Book Fair International; at universities such as MIT, Harvard University, and Spelman College; and at literary societies, civic and business organizations and public libraries all across the country.
Read more at www.umrigar.com or go to Thrity's Author page on Facebook.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I finished reading this book last night, and the characters and the story are still lingering with me today. I feel that any words that I use to describe the book, characters or story will not do it credit. Suffice it to say that this is a wonderful story about a woman dealing with grief at the loss of her husband, finding her way as an individual and deciding what "home" really means. But, unlike other books that may address similar issues, this book addresses the differences in culture in America and India that defines the main character and compounds the difficulty of her choice. You won't be disappointed by this book!
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Format: Hardcover
This book had so much potential, but, in my opinion, failed to deliver. I loved the premise of the book: Parsi widow in the middle of middle America faced with so many cultural differences. The parts of the book where Tehmina contrasts her life in India with the way of life in America are interesting and thoughtful. However, those places are surrounded by cliche and what I would call "formula" writing.

So much of the book simply did not ring true. Would anyone really call their son Cookie? And how old is this child; at one time he calls himself the Cookie Monster and at others is discussing Calvin and Hobbes. The "yummy yummy" vocabulary of the boys next door also does not ring true for kids growing up with abusive adults. And the reaction of everyone to the beating that they receive from their mother seems totally blown out of portion -- television interviews, newspaper pictures, dinner at the home of the son's boss -- just too over the top. And Sorab's new boss, Grace, is nothing more than a cartoon character.

In short, Tehmina seems like a Parsi Mary Poppins -- sprinkling everyone's life with a bit of sugar so that everyone will live happily ever after. I can't help but feel that life in two different worlds (as Tehmina is experiencing) is so much more complicated than that. It's a quick read, but not a satisfying one. "The Space Between Us" was a far superior book
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By MLF on August 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Tehmina, the protagonist in this story definately wears many hats; widow, mother, grandmother, friend, and hero? Another wonderful novel from Ms. Umrigar that clearly shows the mindset of those who come to this country and battle with the norms of the old and the new. In some countries the adage "it takes a village to raise a child" is stil is practiced. In this country it is merely the title of book. Tehmina makes a decision to bring that practice to her US in in making the leap over the fence she comes to realize that she can bring a bit of India to Ohio. Once again Thrity Umrigar has left me wanting to know what happens next....does Tehmina learn to drive?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't know how Amazon managed to lose my review and one other customer review, but let's try again! This delightful new novel is Umrigar's first to be set in the US and marks a return to the wistful domestic comedy of her first novel, Bombay Time. It concerns the dilemma of a recently widowed Bombay Parsi matron, Tehmina, who is visiting her son, his American wife, and their little boy in an upscale Cleveland suburb. Tehmina (who is given an impressively rich and convincing inner life by the author) must decide whether to return to her familiar life in Bombay, or stay on in an alien land that to her often feels as cold emotionally as its winter weather. Amid Umrigar's acute but good-natured satire of contemporary American suburbia, Tehmina eventually perceives (and reminds the reader of) the good that still lives just below the (sometimes materialistic and prejudiced) surface of contemporary American life. This book is simultaneously entertaining, moving, and thought-provoking. You won't be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
This is my second experience reading Umrigar, and it won't be my last. This story, about Tehmina, a widow from India torn between the old world and the new (her grown son's home in Cleveland) explores a range of emotions. Umrigar expresses the widow's grief with clarity and compassion. And Tehmina is a marvel of a character. Her instinct is to nurture and care for everyone, but often in American society, we are taught to not interfere with the lives of others. Tehmina is conflicted in many ways, and that makes her triumph all the more "sweet."
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Format: Hardcover
I have never had an author move me as much or bring characters alive like Thrity Unrigar does in her novels. "If Today Be Sweet" was no exception. It is as if you are there with them, living their lives, feeling their sorrows and their happiness. It helps you to realize what is most important in life...your family and friends, not the material possessions that you have. Thrity Umrigar always leaves me thinking about her characters for days after finishing one of her novels...and wanting her to write a sequal.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved The Space Between Us and Bombay Time - I suggest reading both of these. By comparison, I can not even get half way through this book. It seems so trite and so lacking in depth. I am very disappointed after reading the other two. My copy will most likely go to a second hand bookstore.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have fallen in love with this author. Seeing American culture from the perspective of an immigrant from India was amazing...toggling between a culture of poverty and disneyland can be dizzying but she reinforces that life is all about love and relationships no matter where we come from or end up in life.
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