Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya

Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya is a beautifully heartbreaking piece of writing. I will start this review by saying that I am not going to pair it with any type of drink. The characters spend the story in varying levels of starvation and because of this I never felt drawn to make a cup of tea or enjoy any type snack. It didn’t feel appropriate to enjoy a creature comfort while reading about such horrible pain.

I was deeply moved by Nectar in a Sieve, I found myself wanting to go and just hold my son. The pain that Rukmani and her family experience feels unbearable to the reader, but they accept their lot and keep going. Rukmani says that a person can get used to anything and this is true. Life always moves forward regardless of your pain or your joy. Rukmani demonstrates this through her quiet strength as she accepts her marriage, leaving her family, the loss of her sons, hunger, adultery, a daughter that turns to prostitution, and finally the loss of her beloved husband.

Reading Nectar in a Sieve will make you grieve for Rukmani but also make you grateful for what you have been given. It makes the burdens in your life seem much lighter.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan with Green Tea

Amy Tan weaves together the stories of Chinese-American daughters and their mothers in The Joy Luck Club. The stories are deeply emotional and address the complexities of mother-daughter relationships. I found myself putting down the novel to call my own mother and just listen to her. It is funny how much we miss by focusing on ourselves instead of the people in our lives.

The stories of the mothers are extremely painful to read as they experienced horrors that I cannot imagine. As a mother, the stories of the mothers losing their children were difficult for me to read. I can’t imagine choosing to leave your babies and the life-long pain that must result from such a loss. The mothers seemed to suffer not only from their difficult pasts but from the lack of relationship with their daughters. Culture and age stood between the mothers and their daughters. The wall that separated them was self-constructed but in the end it left both sides feeling alone.

I enjoyed sipping some Green Tea sweetened with honey while reading. My Father-in-law bought me the Green Tea while he was in China and I enjoyed the authentic connection. It is easy to connect a book with tea, but connections with family are more difficult. The Joy Luck Club made me focus on wanting to create an authentic relationship with those I love.