I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Amla Mater by Devi Menon
Published by Yali Publishing LLC on June 15th, 2018
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In the stillness of autumn, I feel I can almost hear someone hum 'Lokame tharavadu (the world is my home)....'
In her tiny flat in East London, as Mili waits for her baby to arrive, little things remind her of her life in India----the scent of jasmine flowers, a heavy downpour, a late-night cup of coffee, an amla or gooseberry--and she is overcome with a deep desire to recreate the flavors of her childhood. Can a jar of amla pickle help her travel back to that safe haven she once called home?
In this sweetly nostalgic graphic novel, the narrator recounts her meandering journey from her ancestral village in South India to the United Kingdom, capturing the deep feeling of longing for home that shapes the lives of emigrants everywhere.
I hadn’t heard of Amla Mater but when I was approached to review it, I was immediately on board. The graphic novel memoir is rich in nostalgia and the memories of the motherland. Amla Mater is told from the perspective of a pregnant immigrant. It starts with a craving. A craving for something from home and from the Mili’s childhood. Something that can transport her across time and space.
One day, her significant other brings home some gooseberries, some amla. She decided to try to pickle the amla the way her childhood best friend’s grandmother would. While she is waiting for the amla pickle to mature and be ready to consume, she reflects on her life until the moment.
We are taken on a journey that begins with Mili and her childhood friend are playing around in their village to when Mili’s family moves, her college years, her working, her moving to a new country, her falling in love, all the milestones in her life.
While I do wish there was a more substantial storyline outside of just the milestones the main character hits over the course of her life, there is something so powerful about the nostalgia embedded in the pages and how that peaks towards the end of the novel.
Amla Mater is a pretty wholesome graphic novel that tells the moving story of one immigrant and is probably something many other immigrants will be able to relate to. Of course, one experience doesn’t encompass all but that doesn’t mean it cannot be moving. I highly recommend reading this graphic novel because it deserves a lot more attention then it is currently getting.
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