The world of India is opened in a way few know within the pages of Honor by Thirty Umrigar. The Beauty and The Beast of this country with its different cultures, traditions, physical light and ugly are out in the open.
When a Hindu woman and her Muslim husband, are attacked by her brothers, killing her husband, an American reporter takes on her story. Not just because another woman was involved in an Honor Killing, but because she is willing to stand up to her brothers and centuries of traditional patriarchy to sue them. But when she is sidelined with a hip injury, she calls on her friend, Smita (born in India and a terrible secret of her own), to help. Smita becomes embedded in this world she wanted nothing to do with. But she must face the past right now.
While sometimes heavy in its message, it is always realistic. Trigger warnings: rape/assault and the honor killing/murders.
I will wrap that summary up with a few personal feelings. The fact that traditions are at the center of all the troubles of the women of the story, there are areas of traditions being respected, such as the tradition of honoring a good parent, the honor of keeping your word, the tradition of the husband/wife/child dynamic. Of course, Smita does try not to go this way (she is a free-spirited, sex having, modern woman) and still comfortably seems to fall into that position. Yet the biggest issue I had is Smita’s repetition of pointing out “privilege” (hers as a now American woman, the fact the man she travels with has privilege as a wealthy man, the privilege of the Hindu population over the Muslim, privilege of man over woman, privilege of wealthy over the working class) as if you would miss this fact. Therefore, there are bumps in the road for me, yet this is (despite the subject) a good read that is edgy (OMG she has a potty mouth!) and still comfortable.