I had just checked out Family Life by Akhil Sharma and thought I’d read a few pages over coffee before moving on to baking my pumpkin pie. A few pages in, I knew I had to see it through to the end.
Family Life is the story of the Mishras, who arrive from Delhi to settle in Queens in pursuit of a better life for their sons Ajay and Birju. Birju has just been accepted into the prestigious Bronx High School of Science when tragedy strikes, leaving Birju brain damaged. The focus of Family Life quickly shifts from achieving success in a foreign culture, to simply caring for Birju. Sharma’s novel is a story of being an outsider, but it’s also an extraordinarily perceptive story of being a family.
Family life is an excruciatingly honest book. It’s insightful, funny and messy. It’s tragic and hard to pull away from. It’s a lot like family.