From Publishers Weekly
Spiked with elements of mystery, suspense and the supernatural, Divakaruni's sixth novel is a pleasantly atypical tale of self-discovery. Rakhi, a single mother and struggling artist living in Berkeley, Calif., has always been vaguely aware of her own mother's unusual gift—the ability to interpret dreams. Between juggling a laundry list of other priorities—keeping her floundering tea shop afloat after a Starbucks-esque supercafe moves in across the street, battling her ex-husband for their daughter's affections, finding her artistic voice—Rakhi longs to know more about her mother's past and her own hazy Indian heritage. After a mysterious car accident claims her mother's life, Rakhi, with her father's help, sets out to decipher Mrs. Gupta's dream journals in hopes of unlocking the secrets of her peculiar double life. A shadowy man in white who appears at pivotal moments, a sinister rival and entries from Mrs. Gupta's dream journals all punctuate this cleverly imagined tale of love, forgiveness and new beginnings. Meanwhile, September 11 disrupts Rakhi's search for identity, and a vicious attack on her friends and family calls their notions of citizenship into question. Divakaruni (The Mistress of Spices; Sister of My Heart;
etc.) does a good job working current issues into the novel and avoids synthetic characterization, creating a free-flowing story that will captivate readers.
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The word magical gets thrown around a little too casually in review circles, but when it comes to Divakarunis new novel, the description seems apt. More cynical reviewers feel the plot is contrived and the characters hollow. The books boosters praise Divakarunis descriptive skills, shifting point of view, and acute presentation of Indian-American culture. The mothers eponymous dreams, presented in separate chapters, add complexity to the narrative structure and drop a heavy dose of mysticism to this tale of immigrant assimilation. It is this same mysticism that determines the success of the fictional illusion: for some it is awe-inspiring; others just see smoke and mirrors.
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