The Awakening of Meena Rawat Review
I have mixed feelings about this one. I tend to when it comes to these types of Contemporary books.
Every day, twenty-eight-year-old Meena Rawat is hounded by inner voices reminding her to be grateful for the middle-class American life she has—even if she is stuck in an unhappy marriage. She and her daughter are both safe, clothed, and fed, more than she could say for herself as a child. Born into the “Untouchables” caste in a small village in North India, Meena frequently relives the nightmare of abuses and slurs she suffered in an orphanage. There is only one bright spot in her memories: the fellow ‘Untouchable’ orphan who became her best friend and first love, Ramu.
When Ramu reappears in her new American life, he’s different. Unlike her, he has cast off the shame of their upbringing and become a confident entrepreneur. Their meeting rekindles a lost passion and the two find they share a mutual sense of obligation to help the children of the outcast community they left behind. Meena fantasizes about a future with him, but will her responsibility to her daughter—and the certainty that she would lose custody—keep her chained?
Content Warning: Domestic Abuse, Rape
I received a copy of The Awakening of Meena Rawat from the author, Anoop Judge herself. In return for an honest review. Thank you so much for this opportunity!
I have mixed feelings about this one. I tend to when it comes to these types of Contemporary books. More so when it's ones involving themes of domestic abuse.
We follow Meena who struggles to remain grateful for her life in America filled with comforts she never knew growing up in India having been born as an “untouchable” while being stuck in an unhappy and abusive marriage. Years after arriving and since then having a daughter, Meena runs into Ramu, her first love. Seeing Ramu rekindles a lost passion. But Meena must decide if she is willing to give up her daughter to be with Ramu.
I really enjoyed getting to know Meena and learning about the Indian culture especially around the caste system, I had never heard of this before. This was my first read involving Indian culture in this way. And it was such an interesting read for that aspect alone. I felt for Meena as we got to see what she experienced growing up in India.
That being said, I felt we lost the heartfelt vibe as we start switching perspectives around the halfway point. I wasn’t expecting that either after having the first half of the book entirely in Meena’s perspective. So when we start seeing these other perspectives, things felt off, no longer feeling quite as tender when we were just following Meena. I would have preferred strictly staying within Meena’s point of view.
My biggest issue involved some of Meena’s choices especially after getting reacquainted with Ramu. I understand her marriage wasn’t the greatest, involving varying degrees of abuse. But I still struggled to be okay with some of Meena’s choices. Though I appreciated seeing Meena’s inner monologue questioning her own actions as well. She knew it was wrong.
Overall, I found this to be a unique contemporary read involving Indian culture. While I didn’t love everything it entailed, I found this to be very enjoyable.
I think if you enjoy Contemporary reads, you might enjoy this too!