Author: Renée L. K. Eastabrooks
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Review Copy: Reedsy
Available at: Amazon.com
Some aspects of our society and cultural mores are so horrifying that we strive to keep them under wraps. It takes someone with courage, compassion, and empathy to bring forth depraved secrets so that the evil can be ripped apart at the roots. Renée L. K. Eastabrooks pens down the true story of a young widow in Rajasthan, who miraculously escapes the burning pyre of Sati, and goes on to search for a new life across continents. Easterbrook’s novel – Inauspicious – contains insights from her month-long trip to northern India where she worked with widows and street children.
Sati, the practice of burning alive a widow on the pyre of her dead husband, is illegal in India. However, in the hinterlands, the widow is a financial and social burden, and an entire custom is perpetuated to get rid of her while crowning her with divinity. In this horrifying landscape, a young widow, Triti, escapes a lit pyre and through sisterhood and kindness, and the power of her dreams and forte attempts to rewrite her destiny. The novel is gripping from the start and has the reader rooting for the protagonist.
The writer is invested in the local landscape and heritage. The book contains verses, local lullabies, songs, and a few colloquial dialogues. Amidst the sorrow and the depravity, the descriptions of colors, bazaars, spices, jewelry, bring out the visual vibrancy for which Rajasthan is well-known. Eastabrook’s writing is evocative and the observant narrative fills the pages of an otherwise troubling story.
Initially, it seems Triti’s recovery and journey to Delhi and then to New York is not only swift but convenient. A quarter into the book, the 18 years old, Triti, has changed her identity and moved out of the country, only to discover the smoke and mirrors in the world. Her trysts are yet to unfold.
This is a story of sheer grit and the desire to survive, against all odds. From small towns and impoverished societies rise some of the strongest souls who become an inspiration. Triti’s story, even in adversity, speaks of the power of serendipity and the inner strength that can pave the path for redemption and healing if ever there is for those who have experienced the darkest depths of society.