book review: “the unlikely adventures of the shergill sisters” by balli kaur jaswal

I did it, guys! I read my pick from my episode on Anne Bogel’s podcast, What Should I Read Next, Episode 179 and I am popping in to share my thoughts.

But first, let me remind you what Anne said about the book when she recommended it to me.

“This is a story of three sisters. They’re on a mission. They’re on almost a pilgrimage their dying mother has sent them on…They’ve gotten older, they don’t get along…. But they’ve come together. They have adventures. It does not go as planned.

And I think this book has the right amount of fun and zany while still having concerns that are grounded in [the] reality that you and I can relate to as people that makes it not just empty or ridiculous.

They are dealing with serious things, but this is not as a serious book. This is fast and fun and keeps you moving. You’ll get to experience new places and new things and I think you’ll really enjoy the journey.” 

So, here’s what I thought.

First, if, as a reader, you are not reading books by people that are different than you (religion, cultures, race, etc.) you are doing it wrong.  That being said, until you are familiar with a culture, etc. you may struggle with some of the references like words, foods, and settings. I think my unfamiliarity hindered my capacity to fully enjoy Shergill Sisters.

Second, this book was serious but fun and zany, exactly what Anne promised.

Jaswal’s website describes the book as a “dark comedy” and I agree with that moniker. Rajni, the oldest sister, is the mom who’s 18 year-old son has impregnated his 36-year-old girlfriend. Jezmeen is the YouTube sensation, not in a good way, and this is where most of the hilarity lies. Shirina has the perfect marriage, or does she? And her situation is what brings the “serious” issues to the fore.  A concept that I was unfamiliar with but that Balli Kaur Jaswal is due to her roots in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. That’s were the darkness lies.

Third, it is a page-turner and I read it in a day. Anne pointed out that around 300 pages is around my magic number in terms of fun fiction and she is right.  I recently picked up a copy of another novel that was about 400 pages and it took so long for it to really get going that I put it down. Pacing really is everything.

Ultimately, I enjoyed Shergill Sisters but didn’t like it as much as I did Joshilyn Jackson’s The Almost Sisters (my full review is here),  which was Anne’s reference point and the reason she selected this book. But I do think that was due, in part, to my unfamiliarity with Indian culture and not any thing else like pacing, writing style, quality of writing, etc.

So, there’s my thought on The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters. Now, onward to Anne’s other two suggestions: The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth and Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.

3 ½ of out 5 Stars

Have you read this one? Did you enjoy it?

enjoy life…

P.S. I saw Balli Jaswal (@balli_jaswal) posted this recently on Twitter: Today in My Family Does Not Understand My Career: Both parents called in a great panic to notify me that my books were available in the library. “How are you supposed to make money? What kind of business model is this?”

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