Book Review - All the Tomorrows

Book Summary:
Akash Choudry wants a love for all time, not an arranged marriage. Still, under the weight of parental hopes, he agrees to one. He and Jaya marry in a cloud of colour and spice in Bombay. Their marriage has barely begun when Akash embarks on an affair.
Jaya can't contemplate sharing her husband with another woman, or looking past his indiscretions as her mother suggests. Cornered by sexual politics, she takes her fate into her own hands in the form of a lit match.
Nothing endures fire. As shards of their past threaten their future, will Jaya ever bloom into the woman she can be, and will redemption be within Akash's reach?

All the Tomorrows by Nillu Nasser is a novel set in India that takes a span of 20 plus years, taking us on a journey through Jaya's life, first as a new wife to Akash, and eventually as an independent woman who's matured overtime and grown into herself.

Akash is infatuated with someone else - Soraya with whom he has a love affair, and this single action sets off the chain of events that take both Jaya and Akash on a spiraling and painful journey of self-loathing, depression, and eventually self-discovery.

At one point in the novel, Jaya lights herself on fire while her eyes are fixed on Akash. She didn't set herself on fire because she wanted to die; it was more like a sudden move of desperation - stupid of her, really - but in that moment of pain when she saw him and recalled the image of him with another woman, she was moved to do something drastic. It was her way of trying to confirm if her supposed-husband loved her enough to rescue her from the fire, and it scarred her for life when he ran away at that moment - while she was on fire - and never came back. Not for  another 20 years. Not getting the closure she really needed became an obstacle that prevented her from completely moving on; however (and without my giving away too much), she eventually got that closure towards the end.

Speaking of endings, let's talk about it for a bit. 

What I like about this novel is that it isn't the usual, conventional book - books that have good endings. To put it plainly, this novel doesn't have a great ending; in fact, it doesn't have a fair ending, but sometimes we do need books that make us ask questions. All the Tomorrows made me ask a lot of them, questions like... WHY did it have to end that way? Why did Soraya (Akash's former lover) 'go' the way she did? Does culture really define us, or do we actually help define culture?

Some parts of the novel did drag for a bit; I felt some chapters were longer than was necessary. Or perhaps it was just me eager to find out what happens next with these fascinating characters...

Nonetheless, All the Tomorrows is a finely-written book that touches on various themes, including the subject of identity and the quest to find oneself. Jaya found herself, embraced herself, and began to love herself exactly the way she was. She'd already moved on before Akash came back into her life, however, his return was the closure she needed. 

It’s a tragedy - painful, realistic and beautiful all at the same time. It's literary fiction at one of its finest peaks. I'd gladly read other works by Nillu Nasser. 


GENRE: Women's fiction/Literary fiction
MATERIAL CONNECTION: Given to me by author in exchange for review