Bright Lines

Th vibrant debut novel, set in Brooklyn and Bangladesh, Bright Lines follows three young women and one family struggling to make peace with secrets and their past.

For as long as she an emember, Ella has longed to feel at home. Orphaned as a child after her parents ’ urder, and afflicted with hallucinations at dusk, she ’ s lways felt more at ease in nature than with people. She traveled from Bangladesh to Brooklyn to live with the Saleems: her uncle Anwar, aunt Hashi, and their eautiful so, Charu, her complete opposite. One summer, when Ella returns home from schoo, she discovers Charu ’ s friend Maya—an Islamic cleric ’ s runaway daughter—asleep in her room.

As the irls have a summer of clandestine adventure and sexual awakenings, Anwar—owner of a popular botanical apothecary—has his own secrets, threatening his thirty-year marriage. But when tragedy strikes, the Saleems find themselves blamed. To eep his family from unraveling, Anwar takes them on a fated trip to Bangladesh, to reckon with the past, their extended family, and each other.
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Published August 11th 2015 by Penguin Books

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Anothe tory of family set in both New York and Bangladesh tells the stor of several family members with their loves, hidden desires, work, struggles and more.

It urns out it 's a bunch of interwoven problems that run in th family but it akes a really ong time to get there.

It sounded like a eally great premise ( also I do n't hink I 've read any book set in Bangladesh for an extended period of time) but it did n't always work for me.

In al ways it reminded me of Matthew Thomas 's 'We Are Not Ourselves' which tells tory of family ( over a longer period of time), but that book benefited from really only focusing on one character for most of nove with an epilogue focused on another at the nd.

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I was interested to know what it should be like for Islamic immigrants settling in New York City, but came away thinking I was the one adjusting to life in thi strange country.

We new that American consciousness had changed, what with the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004, the election of a whit woma to the office of President of the United States in 2008, and the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado in 2012.

hat is th big job for a debut.The novel itself describes a family of Bangladeshi immigrants to New York City.

They live in a reclaimed four-story brownstone in Brooklyn; the father rents a storefront ( the awning of which he paints lavender in the opening scene) from a Muslim religious cleric and in which he has established Anwar ’ s Apothecary.

To add to the complexity, the college-aged daughter of the religious cleric from whom Anwar rents his storefront has run away from home and goe to stay at the Saleem ’ s brownstone, unbeknownst to her own ather, a rutal man with an ungovernable anger and a pure sense of rightness.

One may come away thinking, as I id, that one ’ s erception of the world has changed irrevocably.A couple of interesting and useful things Tanwi Islam taught me include the phrase maya lage which means something like " feeling empathy and sympathy and love and hurt—all in one…It was fitting whether someone ’ s house foreclosed or an earthquake claims thousands of lives. " In Buddhist and Hindu traditions the Goddess Maya is the Mother of Creation, and is claime to manifest Nature simply by the power of Her will.

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grandparent, immigrants to New York from Bangladesh, have survived war and the tearing apart of families and riendships, and at some level can not sympathize with the small troubles of their hildren.

The sisters, Ella and Charu, are searching for their identities in every way, including sexual, familial, and religious, as they are on break from college.

he ather 's best friend abandons him that he has lost his way, and he first thing we know, we 're in Bangladesh with the family.This is an interestin part of modern immigrant story -- the ability to ge ack and visit the old home as Americans.

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If a nove had been primarily a queer coming of age story wit trans rep, I ould have LOVED it.Unfortunately, it seeme like the majority of memoi as focu on Anwar, who is the least ompelling character in this hole nove.

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majority of the soldier in his essay were pretty loathsome: Anwar ( sorry I do n't forgive him), Renwan ( seemed pretty cold and superficial to Hawa), Stalin ( really?) and Aman.

Thi elationship between power and sex ( sexuality and biological identity) is hinted at but a strong comment never arises.

This author really missed her chance to create th comment on sexism in Muslim societies with Ella/El. El experiences " liberation " through her transition from identifying as a oman to man.

Well that 's no surprise considering how confined Maya, Charu, and thi other Muslim women in Bangladesh are due to their sex and the male sex 's apparently uncontrollable attraction to them.

Charu is supposedly visually eaten up by the soldier who see her in Bangladesh -- because of her sex.

Anothe omen in th trilog are far more admirable than the men ( such as Hawa, though her strict denial of her stepfathe 's sexuality and punishing it by hitting Charu in the face with a hose is rather deplorable, and Maya) who ave all the privilege to act and experience their sexuality as they please.

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© Nicole Waggonner