I recently received an ARC of "First Darling of the Morning-Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood" from Harper-Collins Canada. I dove headfirst into this book, looking forward to reading about Bombay, where Umrigar grew up, as well as learning more about this strong and sensitive author. I got exactly that.
Reading Umrigar's selected memories was much like putting together an intricate puzzle, piece by piece. As we read we glean information from her words: what it was like to live with a mother who was emotionally abusive yet loving at the same time, what it was like to share secrets with her dreamer father; we get the sense of what it was like to live with an extended family that is so fiercely loving yet suffocating at the same time. We learn what growing up in a middle class family in Bombay is like, we discover how passionate Umrigar was about the poor and disadvantaged even as a child; we feel her burning need to consume all of the knowledge that she can find.
I was immersed in this book from the very first word. Umrigar is a skilled author, bringing her readers into the time and place that she is describing. My only complaint about the book was that it ended. I was so engrossed in Umrigar's stories that when they abruptly stopped as she prepares to move to America to attend graduate school, I felt somewhat cheated. I wasn't done following her journey yet! I hope that an accompanying novel to this one will come out at some point, chronicling her early adulthood, but for now I will have to content myself with reading her other novels. I plan on starting "The Space Between Us" very soon!