I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Mother Ocean Father Nation by Nishant Batsha
Published by HarperCollins on June 7, 2022
Genres: Fiction / Asian American, Fiction / Family Life / Siblings, Fiction / LGBTQ+ / Bisexual
Format: ARC, eBook
A riveting, tender debut novel, following a brother and sister whose paths diverge—one forced to leave, one left behind—in the wake of a nationalist coup in the South Pacific
On a small Pacific island, a brother and sister tune in to a breaking news radio bulletin. It is 1985, and an Indian grocer has just been attacked by nativists aligned with the recent military coup. Now, fear and shock are rippling through the island’s deeply-rooted Indian community as racial tensions rise to the brink.
Bhumi hears this news from her locked-down dorm room in the capital city. She is the ambitious, intellectual standout of the family—the one destined for success. But when her friendship with the daughter of a prominent government official becomes a liability, she must flee her unstable home for California.
Jaipal feels like the unnoticed, unremarkable sibling, always left to fend for himself. He is stuck working in the family store, avoiding their father’s wrath, with nothing but his hidden desires to distract him. Desperate for money and connection, he seizes a sudden opportunity to take his life into his own hands for the first time. But his decision may leave him vulnerable to the island’s escalating volatility.
Spanning from the lush terrain of the South Pacific to the golden hills of San Francisco, Mother Ocean Father Nation is an entrancing debut about how one family, at the mercy of a nation broken by legacies of power and oppression, forges a path to find a home once again.
This was an interesting and intense novel about two siblings and survival and secrets and destabilization and coming of age. Each sibling’s story is equally compelling, but Bhumi has my heart. Each character is distinct from one another, and the political machinations and how they affect the people affected by them ring true. Four stars.