"I suffered at her hands as a child, and any pain she subsequently endured appeared to me to be a kind of redemption - a rebalancing of the universe, where the rational order of cause and effect aligned."
Avni Doshi's debut novel Burnt Sugar offers a look into a toxic mother-daughter relationship and a window into the world of managing such a relationship when one of the members of the dyads can no longer remember. The novel takes place in India, with the narrative shuffling back and forth between the daughter's (Antara) childhood, parts of which they were homeless and then at an ashram, and her adult life, during which she is learning to deal with her mother's (Tara) memory loss. Antara is torn between needing to take care of her mother and needing to stay far away from her mother for her own sanity. As the novel progresses, the black-and-white nature of who is the "bad guy" in the relationship slowly unfurls into shades of grey. It is this nuance and slow, unexpected reveal that really drew us in. While occasionally (unnecessarily) esoteric with the writing, we felt that worked in its favor given the focus of the novel on how things are remembered and how we create the stories we tell ourselves. 4 stars, especially if you love highly flawed characters.