Late Bloomers by Deepa Varadarajan. Releasing May 2, 2023.
“My entire childhood, I would wonder my parents never kissed each other or hugged each other…or lit up around each other like some of my friends’ parents did.”
An Indian American family in Texas seems to be functioning ok until 57-year-old Lata decides to leave her surly 59-year-old husband Suresh after 36 years of marriage.
“My wife—ex-wife—always said I suffocated her with my pessimism, sucked the joy out of her like a Hoover….She never stopped to consider that maybe she brought out the negativity in me, that my so-called pessimism was more acute in her judgmental presence.”
Lata moves alone to her friends’ condo and gets a job working at a college music library where she meets an interesting music professor named Len. Suresh is devastated and begins dating via Indian dating apps. Meanwhile their 35-year-old daughter Priya whom they wish was married, has for two years been secretly sleeping with a married man, and their son Nikesh has been lying about being married to the mother of his 1-year-old son, Alok. Suresh is suddenly living with a young woman whom he dated once, and her son, and Lata is about to go on her first date with Len. Everyone comes together and all is revealed as Nikesh brings his family to celebrate Alok’s 1st birthday at Suresh’s house.
Though the characters are not as well drawn as they could be, I enjoyed reading each of their stories from their own points of view. Each is doing the best they can to navigate love, loss and life.
“How did I become the needy one, the one so desperate for my children’s approval, fighting for their time, fearful of losing their attentions and affections?”
This book was somewhat similar to Sonali Dev’s The Vibrant Years in that it’s about multi-generational Indian Americans trying to navigate the dating scene in the South. I recommend both!
Thanks #NetGalley for the ARC for Late Bloomers in exchange for an honest review!