Rumi Vasi is 10 years, 2 months, 13 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes, and 6 seconds old. She’s figured that the likelihood of her walking home from school with the boy she likes, John Kemble, is 0.2142, a probability severely reduced by the lacy dress and thick woolen tights her father, and Indian émigré, forces her to wear. Rumi is a gifted child, and her father, Mahesh, believes that strict discipline is the key to nurturing her genius if the family has any hope of making its mark on its adoptive country.
Four years later, a teenage Rumi is at the center of an intense campaign by her parents to make her the youngest student ever to attend Oxford University, an effort that requires an unrelenting routine of study. Yet Rumi is growing up like any other normal teen: her mind often drifts to potent distractions . . . from music to love.
Rumi’s parents want nothing other than to give Rumi an exceptional life. As her father outlines ever more regimented study schedules, her mother longs for India and forcefully reminds Rumi of her roots. In the end, the intense expectations of a family with everything to prove will be a combustible ingredient as an intelligent but naive girl is thrust into the adult world before she has time to grow up.
In her stunningly eloquent debut novel, Nikita Lalwani pits a parent’s dream against a child’s. Deftly pondering the complexities and consequences that accompany the best intentions, Gifted explores just how far one person will push another, and how much can be endured, in the name of love.
Advance praise for Gifted
“A triumph . . . fluid, original, clever, glitteringly vivid, funny . . . All the conventional pieties and forms of Indian immigrant identity and trauma are so wittily preempted, and yet there’s a sure grasp, at the serious core of the novel, of the deep reverberations of politics and history. I couldn’t bear it when it ended.”
–Tessa Hadley, author of The Master Bedroom
“This is an outstanding piece of writing–rich, vivid, fluent, and well paced–with a wonderful cast of well-developed, engaging characters and a constantly surprising story line.”
–Gerard Woodward, author of A Curious Earth
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Mystery & Detective eBook: Gifted|
|Release Date: 08-19-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Mahesh is sitting in his office, marking. He looks up at the arc of the window as a train rushes past, its urgency left behind in diesel scent and echoing clacks. The dank hush of autumn is settling into his room like a foregone conclusion. It is the eleventh season of its kind in his experience in the UK. The fourth of its kind in this room. Mahesh looks up. There are charts and pictures on the wall. The map of the world sits at an awkward angle, blue ocean disappearing behind the iron bookshelf. Books bulge in huge rows, pressing together files and papers, orange foolscap running in chunky alternation with black, white and gray. In the left corner of the room, by the whiteboard, the bumpy illustration of Gandhi peers out at him. In his mind there is an annoyance that delicately attacks his thoughts every few minutes.
Why did Rumi write that in her exercise book? This is the question that hooks into his conscience periodically: a tiny dental tool piercing soft gum. Why did she write it?
I went to play with Sharon Rafferty and Julie Harris and Leanne Roper in the woods. They let me play softball which is like rounders but with only two bases. Sharon said “let’s go and get the softball and racquets from my house.” When we got to her place we stood outside the gate and Sharon said “I just have to check you can come in Rumi because my mum doesn’t like colored people.” Then she went in with the others and I waited outside.
Thank goodness she came back and said it was OK. Then we went in and had pop ices and got the racquets. Mrs. Rafferty was sunbathing in the garden and looked red. We took the racquets