Today’s forecast, grey, cold, cloudy and humid. The day I started reading Emlyn Chand’s Torn Together, the weather mimicked the feel of the first forty pages of this novel. 20 year-old budding artist Daly English is struggling through life. Her father has recently passed away and she is ostracized by her own mother who spends more time counseling the pregnant 15 year-old Meghann than she does with her own daughter. And now her boyfriend has dumped her. Daly has little optimism in her life so the weight of her struggles is evident in her posture, she is slouching her way through life, wearing her pessimism as if it were a heavy winter coat. When she paints her work is reflective of her perennial somber attitude. She’s so miserable she believes the only “likable place” in her charming hometown is Starbuck’s. Even her favorite color is grey. Until a bubbly, quirky Indian pharmacist enters into her life. “Kashi, like the cereal.” He quips. Kashi is everything that Daly isn’t. He’s a relentlessly positive left brained optimist that spouts advice while rescuing her from mild annoyances such as a twisted ankle or knocked-over toy display. “Fresh air is nature’s medicine,” he winks. Even though Daly is certain she’s not ready for another relationship she hits on Kashi anyway and asks him out yet he pulls back as he declares that if they are destined for a relationship then the universe will push them together, all in due time. Kashi offers her a lift home then drives off without so much as a request for her phone number. He leaves her standing on the front lawn, puzzled over his intentions or lack thereof. Kashi eventually pulls Daly in and she jumps right into the deep end. Daly’s “pitiful me” attitude is gradually worn down and the change in her in no more evident then when Kashi joins her family at Thanksgiving meal. Kashi displays his love for this iconic American holiday, one that is a source of dread and consternation for many of us, as he laps up the turkey and gravy in style and steals the holiday with glee.
Torn Together is a lovely and uplifting read with a small town feel yet it transports you to the frenetic pace and aromas of Delhi. Ms Chand weaves a story of faith and family, survival and second chances, life and death through which the smiling Kashi lovingly guides Daly. His love of family and sense of place are attributes we should all aspire to. Happiness will not come by running away from one’s problems and challenges but by embracing and conquering them.
If I have an issue with Torn Together, it is with Ms Chand’s lack of interest in understanding the technical sophistication and redundant safety features of a modern airliner. If I were a Boeing employee, I might have thrown this book against the wall halfway through chapter 18. Setting that minor annoyance aside, Torn Together is a charming and satisfying novel full of life, energy and love.
Torn Together on Amazon
Emlyn Chand’s Website
John Malik’s Novel Doughnuts for Amy