Somebody Loves You — Mona Arshi

Just finished reading Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi. I know, I know, we’re not meant to judge a book by its cover but that really was the only reason I bought this book. So imagine my delight when this novel was one of the highlights of my reading for quite some time.

The poet-to-novelist pipeline is one I usually have a lot of success with and Mona Arshi brings her poetic experience to this book which tells the story of Ruby, a young Indian girl living with her manic depressive mother, father and sister in England. The book is structured in short vignettes, most of which fit together to a loose narrative but there a lot of one-off moments and observations. Each little chapter could be a blank verse poem of its own accord, but the patchwork weaves together to cover normal adolescent issues most readers will relate to as well as the darker, coarser moments of the narrator’s life.

Rather than losing steam towards the end, the book ramps up and during a particularly dark passage, Arshi samples some of the most beautiful and innovative prose I’ve had the pleasure of reading for quite some time. There is a lot of grief in this book, and it’s heavy but it’s also beautiful and strangely life-affirming. It really is one of my favourite things: picking up a book on a complete whim and ending up loving it. I don’t throw these comparisons around easily, but fans of Arundhati Roy will definitely appreciate this sharp and stunning novel.

I will be thinking of it for quite some time.

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