The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani
Rating MUST READ
Genre Realistic Fiction
Whatever you’re reading, put it down, make way. The Storyteller’s Secret is one of those books that makes you forget you are reading a work of fiction. You will feel the characters heartaches. You will take their grievances personally. It will alter your perspective of Indian culture, past and present, for the better. This novel can’t be missed.
What’s it about, anyway?
Jaya, in present-day, is going through a difficult time in her marriage, in her life. She decides to travel to India to discover her roots, but also to escape reality. There she encounters an old friend of the grandmother, Amisha, whom she never knew. With his guidance, Jaya learns about her grandmother’s life as well as her frigid mother’s. Amisha (in the past) and Jaya (present-day) take turns narrating the story of their lives. It is a captivating, heart-wrenching story of love and loss.
Characters You’ll Love
Amisha… Jaya’s grandmother begins her story as a young girl and the reader follows her through the most important moments of her life. You will feel her joy and sorrow in equal measure. She is one of those characters that you become so engrossed in that she feels like a member of your own family.
Ravi… Amisha’s lifelong friend, Ravi is the perfect confidant, champion, and companion. Ravi is your guide through much of the story. If I could give him a nomination for Best Supporting Character, he would win the award by leagues. You will also know Ravi from the time he is a young boy until he is an old man. He will feel like your best friend and your grandfather all rolled into one.
Jaya… While Jaya comes in a steady third for me in the line of favorite characters, I do feel you will become invested in her story as well. As Jaya’s character is close to my own age and embarking on a journey of motherhood, I connected with her differently than the other characters. As she navigates difficult relationships in her own life and seeks healing, she finds herself in ways she could not have otherwise done had she not traveled to her familial homeland. Ultimately, you will also be rooting for her.
Though Jaya herself is an American, much of the story takes place in India. If you enjoy learning about other cultures and traveling to foreign lands by way of book, you will find yet another reason to love this novel. While the depiction of India – I would imagine – is slightly romanticized, you will feel as though you can close your eyes and place yourself inside the story. Dialogue is balanced nicely with descriptive narrative so that you can clearly picture where you are without getting bogged down by verbosity.
What Kept Me Reading
I don’t fall in love with every book I read, but this was the first one in a while that I simply could not put down. I loved everything about it from the characters, to the dual-narration, to the emotions it/they evoked. What I think I enjoyed most is learning more about a culture that fascinates me but that I am not very familiar with. It made me gain a greater appreciation for the cards that I myself have been dealt, and also for just how courageous women from various cultures and walks of life can be. I won’t get into detail here- you’ll have to read it yourself!!
“Life isn’t always about what I want to be but what I can be.”
“With humility may I reap my own power, and at the end of the journey I hope I learn when to stand small so others can feel tall.”
“There was once a bird who wanted to fly alone – away from the others… He was worried if he followed the group he would never find his own place.”
“How can I believe I have a tomorrow when today I feel so lost?”
All quotes from The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani