The Candid Life of Meena Dave, by Namrata Patel

Meena Dave always knew she was adopted and she made her peace with it. Her adoptive parents were kind and loving. There was no reason to search for her biological mother. But she’s also been on her own for a very long time, orphaned at sixteen. That combination has turned her into a semi-well-adjusted, but solitary and nomadic, person. If you love someone they will get taken away. Home is wherever you are at the moment.

This detached philosophy extends to Meena’s career as a freelance photojournalist, a job that takes her all over the world. A post office box in Manhattan and a rented room in London–these are the only “bases” she needs–until at age thirty four she inherits a Boston apartment from a woman that she’s never met. A lovely space with legal conditions dictating a little of this and a little of that, Meena is forced into some decisions about permanence and commitment. She is also thrust into the building’s personal dynamic that has its own set of rules and a cast of colorful supporting characters.

The Candid Life of Meena Dave is certainly not the first book to address the definition of family, nor will it be the last, but it is definitely unique. Everything comes together at the end, but the journey there is intriguing. (Trust me, that earlier assumption you probably made from my summary will be challenged.) Meena is sensitive and multi-dimensional. We feel for her. Like Meena, we all have a desire to belong and we all have defense mechanisms. We all must adjust to Life’s surprises, deciding when to get out of our comfort zones and take risks. Sometimes the riskiest thing we can do is open our hearts.

I recommend this book highly. (There is a little bit of language, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a try.)

9.5/10 Stars

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