Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Book Review: "Keya Das's Second Act" by Sopan Deb

This was a poignant story about forgiving yourself and finding the strength to move forward.

One day, much to the surprise of her Bengali parents and older sister, 18-year-old Keya came out to her family. Their reactions hurt, disappointed, and angered her, but they never found the opportunity to apologize to Keya, as she died shortly thereafter.

Years later, Keya's father Shantanu lives alone. His marriage is over and he doesn’t speak to his other daughter, Mitali, that often. One day he finds boxes in the attic, and one contains notes Keya wrote to her then-girlfriend as well as a play that the two young women had written.

When Mitali suggests that the family stage the play as a tribute to Keya, it is seen as a chance to make amends in a small way for the way Keya felt when she died. And as the production of the play progresses, it represents a chance for each of Keya's family members, who have been mired in grief and guilt for some time, to take tentative steps toward a new start as well.

This was a really well-told and emotionally rich story. I found myself really hooked on these characters and rooting for them to succeed. I felt like there was one thread, related to the man that Mitali is dating, which seemed extraneous and didn’t advance the story much, but I wasn’t too distracted by it.

Having grown up in the New Jersey suburbs, I loved the mention of lots of familiar places. I also was impressed that this is Sopan Deb’s debut novel and I look forward to seeing what comes next in his career.

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