"Bone and Bread' by Saleema Nawaz
Beena and Sadhana are sisters who share a bond very few can understand. Orphaned as teenagers, they were left in the care of their Sikh uncle who ran a bagel shop in a Hasidic community in Montreal. Their Uncle didn’t want much to do with them so they were left to raise themselves. But the deaths of their parents led the girls in two very different directions.
Beena caught the attention of one of the boys who worked in her Uncle’s bagel shop. When she became pregnant at the age of sixteen, he took off leaving her to raise her son on her own. Sadhana was driven to achieve perfection and in doing so spent the rest of her life battling anorexia.
Now, Sadhana has died suddenly, her body was left undiscovered for a week. Beena is hurting because she had stopped speaking to her sister only days earlier. She is feeling guilty because if they hadn’t had an argument, if she hadn’t cut her out of her life, then maybe things would have ended differently. As Beena and her son Quinn head to Montreal to pack up Sadhana’s things, she is flooded with memories and forced to deal with the pain and heartache she desperately spent her life trying to avoid.
Bone and Bread, by Saleema Nawaz, is an incredible and powerful novel about sisters, family, love, and the bonds that never break between them all.
Beautiful. This book is absolutely beautiful. When it was first published I heard so much about it and I put it on my list of books to read though I never got around to reading it. I picked it up because it is one of the finalists for this years Canada Reads and I can definitely say that this one is my favourite of the bunch.
The book is 450 pages and yet I sailed through it. I did not want to put it down. Nawaz’s writing is effortless and powerful. This is the story of two sisters whose lives are punctuated by profound loss early on and who have dealt with the loss in different ways. I was so drawn in to the relationship between Beena and Sadhana, the way that they lived their lives for each other, and the way that they were connected no matter where life took them. I felt as though I was mourning along with them, I could feel their loss through the pages, the writing is just so incredible.
There is so much to this book, so much that is covered beyond the relationship between the two women. I greatly appreciated how Nawaz worked in the topics of immigration and integration in Quebec. She writes Sadhana’s struggle with anorexia thoughtfully and eloquently, never sensationalizing it but ensuring that the emotions of it are loud and clear. The entire time I read this book, i never felt as though the people in this book were characters - they felt so real, so true.
Heartbreaking, insightful, and endearing, for me this is the standout book of the Canada Reads finalists. It is a beautiful and engrossing story that I just could not put down.