Friday, July 04, 2014

Book review: Em and the Big Hoom

Read Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto, thanks to my dear friend AN
This book is not a tear jerker - surely, the people in that house cannot wake up every morning and cry for 25 or so years, can they? Em's condition becomes a 'part of life', but yet, it tears their life apart. Though in a strange way, it is what keeps them together. When Em dies of a heart attack in the end, the son wonders, 'what now?' For those who have never known a normal life, can life be normal ever?
A beautifully written, un-pretentious, honest book. Breath of fresh air, did I say?
who lent the book. An absorbing read, finished it in one sitting. Though I am a bit sceptical of books that talk of personal crises, this was a wonderful book! Written in an autobiographical tone, Jerry Pinto describes growing up with Em - a mother who is manic depressive, bi-polar and in short, in the author's words "Mad". Without being melodramatic or overly sentimental, Jerry Pinto takes us through the life of a boy growing up in a middle class Mumbai home with a mother who has a psychiatric condition, a father - the Big Hoom who is the pillar holding the family together and an elder sister Susan. With mercurial wit suffused with feeling and not self pity, the author makes his story your own. When Em discusses her sex life with an adolescent son, your face turns as red as his. When the son does not want to go home, you understand. When the son, who loves his mother dearly, calls her a 'disgusting bitch' you understand. When Em has a cancerous growth on her tongue and she makes her children promise not to tell the Big Hoom, and they don't - you understand.

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