Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: Losing Touch by Sandra Hunter

The viewing of the body has started. ~ Opening Sentence of Losing Touch



Losing Touch by Sandra Hunter
One World Publications; 2014
Fiction; 224 pgs

From the Publisher:  
After Indian Independence Arjun brings his family to London, but hopes of a better life rapidly dissipate. His wife Sunila spends all day longing for a nice tea service, his son suddenly hates anything Indian, and his daughter, well, that’s a whole other problem. As he struggles to enforce the values he grew up with, his family eagerly embraces the new. But when Arjun’s right leg suddenly fails him, his sense of imbalance is more than external. Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, he is forced to question his youthful impatience and careless cruelty to his family, until he learns, ultimately, to love them despite — or because of — their flaws. In a series of tender and touching glimpses into the shared life of a married couple, Sandra Hunter creates strikingly sympathetic characters — ones that remind us of our own shortfalls, successes, hypocrisies, and humanity.
My father worked hard his entire life.  He took his first paying job at age eleven to help out his family.  He had a difficult childhood in many respects.  His father worked long hours and he became the father figure in his sibling's lives.  He served in the military, fought in a war, married and started a family.  He wanted the best for his family and was disappointed when his efforts, in his mind, fell short.  He felt as if nothing he could do would ever be good enough in his family's eyes--in his own eyes.

In this way, Arjun reminded me of my father.  There was an awkwardness to his character; Arjun was unsure of himself and yet strove hard not to show it on the outside.  He could be controlling at times (isn't that what he was supposed to do as a father, as the head of the household, after all?), he said hurtful things and resorted to violence (especially when he was hurting), and did not understand his wife and children. He did not know how to connect with them, and yet he longed to be able to.  His illness was something he did not want to acknowledge or let define him.  In a way, his feelings toward his disease mirrored the relationships in his life.  That awkwardness again.  The disconnect.

Sunila, in her own way, was struggling too.   Whereas her husband wanted to maintain their cultural identity while setting up a home in another country, she wanted to embrace her new life and fit in.  She also suffered from a similar disconnect from her husband as he did from her.  She longed for a better relationship with him, but at the same time wasn't sure she liked the man she called her husband.

Their two children were raised in an entirely different environment than the one Arjun and Sunila came from. They are very much of two cultures, and adapted in their own ways.  It was sometimes a bone of contention between the father and his children.  Sunila often acted as the mediator between the children and their father.

The first part of the novel is set in the 1960's through the 1970's with each chapter divided by years, sometimes skipping a year or two or three and other times staying in the same year.  It is an interesting way to tell a story and you might think confusing, but Sandra Hunter makes it work and work well.  The reader still gets a good idea of who the characters are and what they are going through.  The chapters vary in focus between Arjun and his wife Sunila, with Arjun being the main focus.

The second part of the novel takes the reader into the twenty first century, as an aging Arjun and Sunila are doing the best they can, despite Arjun's poor health.  The children have both flown the coop, so to speak, and are leading their own lives.  The reader gets to see an even more vulnerable side of Arjun at this point, and it is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

At the end of the novel, I cried not only for the characters, but for my dad and me, for those lost opportunities, and for my daughter, who will never know her grandfather but through my memories.

Sandra Hunter has written a poignant but quiet novel that touches on life's disappointments and regrets, about generational gaps, and the complexity of the human condition.  The writing is beautiful; the characters are realistic and their plight is one I think many will be able to relate to.  

Rating: * (Very Good +)

To learn more about Sandra Hunter and her book, please visit the author's website

I hope you will check out what others had to say about Losing Touch on the TLC Book Tours route!


Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. The publisher provided an copy of the book for review.



 © 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

33 comments:

  1. This sounds like a good read; in terms of the plot and the issues the characters face, as well as the cultural difference. I'm glad you enjoyed the book. Great review, Wendy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melody - Thanks, Melody. I really liked it. :-)

      Delete
  2. Such a powerful review! I haven't been too curious about this book, but it does sound really good. My dad was also the same as your dad, (he is now a lot less rigid and enjoying each day as it comes). So this sounds like a book I could relate to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Athira - I think the cover is an interesting choice given what the story is about. Not what I would have picked (although I do like the cover--maybe just for a different book?). My dad was less rigid the older he got as well. It was nice to see, but also sad in a way.

      Delete
  3. Your father sounds like a remarkable man and this sounds like a remarkable book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy - Remarkable . . . In some ways, yes. My dad was complicated as I suppose most people are in general. He was also a difficult man to live with.

      As for the book, I would agree. It was remarkable. :-)

      Delete
  4. This sounds like a very moving read. I like the issues that they're trying to resolve and it sounds like the author handled it very sympathetically. Thanks for sharing! I'll definitely have to give this a try!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katherine - It was. You put it better than I did, but, yes, the author did handle the subject matter and characters very sympathetically. If you do read it, I hope you like it!

      Delete
  5. Sounds like a box of tissues is needed with this. Its amazing how powerful words can be that they raise such emotions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracy - I admit I even got teary-eyed when I wrote my review days later. I'm such a baby. LOL Still, I did find it to have a big impact on me.

      Delete
  6. Sounds like this turned into an emotional read for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ti - You could say that about almost every book I read. Stress on the word "almost".

      Delete
  7. I love the way you reviewed this, and I'm adding it to my list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jenclair - I hope you like it if you read it. It was a surprise in some ways as I really didn't know what to expect going in.

      Delete
  8. Thanks so much for this review, Wendy. Oh that cover! This was a PR decision over my protests. But perhaps that old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover" is true, I hope!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandra - Thank you for dropping by my blog and commenting! I can't begin to tell you how much I loved and appreciated your book. That final scene. I just sat there and cried for awhile.

      The cover is pretty, at least, even if not exactly fitting with the contents of the book. :-)

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much, Wendy. It means so much to know that you connected with the book. Arjun's character arc is interesting because his "aha" moment about himself comes too late for him to share it with anyone.

      Delete
  9. Wow, this story certainly touched some special memories for you. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heather - I tend to be more of a reflective reader as it is, but, yes, this one definitely struck the right cord with me and brought back lots of memories.

      Delete
  10. It sounds like Losing Touch resonated with you. Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Naida - It did. This book really spoke to me.

      Delete
  11. This is such a touching review. The novel sounds so interesting and complex. I wonder if it would resonate in certain ways with me too (my family is half South Asian and I felt certain cultural constraints as I grew up in a different time and place than Arjun's family).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A.M.B. - It might. I hope you do give it a chance. I would be interested to see your take on it.

      Delete
  12. This sounds like a really good read. I have to add it to my list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yvonne - It was! It's one of my favorites so far this year.

      Delete
  13. This sounds like a powerful story of family and cultural changes. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laurel-Rain - It really is. I am so glad I read it.

      Delete
  14. What a thoughtful review! I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed this one so much...makes me want to read it just because :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. A book that can elicit so much emotion sounds very special. Thank you for your wonderfully personal review, Wendy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lisa - Yes, this book has earned a special place on my book shelf. It really meant a lot to me.

      Delete
  16. I really enjoyed your review. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating all comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.