Things My Mother Told Me by Tanya Atapattu

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I know I haven’t updated in forever. In my defence, I am doing two Masters qualifications concurrently and I have a two year old child. My job is also insanely busy. I’ve still been reading a ton but my blogging has slipped unfortunately. Apologies all.

Thanks to Little Brown Book Group UK and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

My expectations were already pretty high for this book because contemporary South Asian diaspora stories are my jam, but if anything, this book managed to exceed them. I tend to read multiple books at once, but when I was reading this I basically did not leave my bed until I finished it.

The main character of this book is Anjali, a 29-year-old British Sri-Lankan woman facing the collapse of her long-term relationship. Anjali is forced to confront her situation and the key relationships she has in her increasingly complicated life.

So far so chick lit but no no no.. it is SO much more than that. One thing that really stuck out for me when I was reading was how grown up and real this book is. I can’t directly relate to Anjali’s experience, but I felt like I just GOT her, everything felt utterly believable.

Although there were numerous laugh out loud moments, the book also deals with some serious issues including mental illness, racism, infidelity, grief and loss. The exploration of mental illness in particular was sensitively done without turning into a big tropey mess.

Anjali’s love life is one of key threads running through the plot and it’s hard to say much about this aspect of the story without giving much away but if you’re in your 20s or 30s and have experienced the highs and lows of love well… there’s lots of angst here to keep you hooked – sorry Anjali. There were moments I was reading thinking “gurl…no” but then remember all the dumb shit I’ve done in the name of love and that was one of the best aspects of this story for me – I could actually relate.

The relationship between Anjali and her mother in particular really hit home for me. I remember being that age and struggling to connect with my mother and come to a mutual understanding about the decisions we’ve both made and the deeper motivations behind them. I felt like the familial relationships were the real heart of the novel.

I honestly can’t think of a single thing I didn’t enjoy about this book, it had it all. If you’re a millenial woman whose life is a big hot mess sometimes, then this is the book for you.

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