This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart: A Memoir in Halves by Madhur Anand

This memoir by Madhur Anand is written differently than any other memoir I've read. I like that it is described as being a memoir in halves as the story is told alternating between a man and a woman. This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart begins in Delhi, India. The Partition of India in 1947 has separated India into two separate states, India and Pakistan. Many families were displaced refugees.

We first meet a man telling of his childhood. A life made more difficult because of polio which left him with a limp and made him the target of ridicule and teasing even by his own family. Despite that he is very intelligent especially in math and science. He eventually gets a visa to move to Canada, but he must marry first.

We meet a young woman interested in science who is choosing education and work over marriage until she actually does get married which will mean changinher life forever.

As this man and his wife, Nirmal are united in Canada in the late 1960's, over a year after their wedding, we journey with them as they adjust to a new life, - the culture, food, jobs and weather. Not to mention a new marriage with someone who is virtually a stranger and a growing family.

This memoir touched upon a lot of themes. It is about family, marriage, loss, grief, loneliness, mental illness, racism, immigration and overcoming obstacles.

There were some beautiful prose in the writing; some phrases were poetic. Throughout the story, scientific or mathematical explanations were made which I found distracting. There were gaps in the story, which might be because there are gaps in the knowledge of family history, but there is definitely room to explore more here. Since it was told by two different points of view, there were times something would be mentioned by one person then never be referred to or brought up again. Some of it seemed significant and it felt like there were some loose ends.

I enjoyed learning of the traditions of India and comparing that to Canada. There were some interesting parallels drawn between the partition in India and the partition that exists in Canada between white and indigenous peoples. As some of the book takes place near Thunder Bay there was some less well known Canadian history touched upon I thought noteworthy which is the prisoner of war internment camps near Marathon, ON that existed in the 1940's. As a Canadian, I don't think too many people know that part of our history.

There is a lot to take away from this memoir and if Madhur Anand writes anymore non-fiction or fiction, I would check it out.

Bookworm Rating: 🐛🐛🐛🌱

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review

EDIT: Since originally reviewing this, I have found out that the physical copy has an entire story about the author which is what I had hoped for. The memoir in halves is that the first half she writes for her children. The second half, she writes for her parents and shares her own story. It is quite lovely and I'm so glad I found out that I was missing out.

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