Louisiana Catch by Sweta Srivastava Vikram
The Publisher's Synopsis
Talk about perfect timing.
Louisiana Catch is the kind of story that hits you deep if you've ever experienced any form of sexual assault whatsoever. Even when I thought I had dealt with every possible emotion dealing with the crazy political atmosphere we've all been living in lately, I never even considered women who are essentially held hostage in their own homes by husbands who rape them.
While Vikram focuses more on Ahana's recovery process (from the abuse as well as her mother's death) rather than the horrible details of her married life, the reader sees just enough to feel dirty herself.
The evil of Ahana's ex-husband is contrasted by the goodness of another male character in this story. I was worried that he would be too good to be true, but Vikram shows his faults and shows the complications of accepted behavior (comments, innuendo from men who mean no harm). The behavior is complicated from both Ahana and this character's viewpoint. With the number of women in the world who have dealt with sexual assault, I think this is an important theme. There are lots of "good" men out there; it's important that they consider that at least one woman they meet in their lifetime will have been a victim at some point in her life, and he will need to "tone it down" a notch. Or, for heaven's sake...listen to her and watch for cues...and gracious me, respond to those actual hints! ;)
The building of this new relationship shows the frustrations as well as the difficulty in learning to trust again. Some people might see Ahana's behavior here a bit tedious...but I felt it was spot on from what I know of sexual assault victims.
The "evil" in the story is creepy as hell.
Ahana's need to directly deal with it worried me some, and I wasn't sure at first if that was a realistic take...but in the end, I could see that her actions with this character were spot on for a woman who is determined to take back control of her life...the backwards and forward movement...the mistakes...they naivety...etc.
I fell in love with Ahana's family...her Mumma, Aunt Chutney, Masi, Naina, and even housekeeper Lakshmi...to be surrounded by so much love, and wow, what a dip into Indian culture. I loved the way Vikram slipped Indian words within the story...using enough context that after a while, even if I didn't exactly know what the words meant, I could figure out the connotation.
The geography of Louisiana Catch spans not only New Orleans, but also New York City and New Delhi. Vikram's details took me to those places!
Louisiana Catch is a solid read with an extra sprinkling of yoga and meditation as well.
It's a thriller in many ways, that doesn't leave you with a nicely wrapped ending, but an important read.
These are stories and conversations that are long overdue.
In that moment, I understood what Mumma meant by "Forgive yourself, beta; grow from your experiences. Know that you are more than your scars. Believe that you deserve love." (251)