Friday, March 20, 2009

The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar

This is a heart-wrenching story about a couple who loses their only son to a sudden illness. When an opportunity to get away from the pain and memories of their beloved son and what was their perfect life comes up, they jump on it. Frank and Ellie, despite the protests of their family, move thousands of miles away to India, where Frank will be running the new plant for HerbalSolutions.

In this exotic and idyllic setting, Ellie feels more alive than she ever has, even while her marriage is unraveling. Frank, on the other hand, finds himself challenged by the dramatically different culture, particularly in regards to the workers at the plant that he manages.

While he flounders in his dealings with the employees and the villagers, he becomes obsessed with Ramesh, the brilliant nine-year-old son of the hired help couple, Prakash and Edna. Everyone around him can see that he is trying to replace his son, Benny, with this precocious Indian boy but Frank can't let him go. Frank's life begins to spiral out of control leading him down a dark path that ends in a shocking tragedy.

At first the prospect of reading a book about a family's struggles through the loss of a child seems daunting, but this story will not disappoint. You will find yourself sympathizing with characters you never thought you would like.

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