An Obedient Father–Akhil Sharma

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One word summary: Intense.

This book is told from two main viewpoints. The first is the titular father. At the open of the book he seems like a reasonably average man, one who engages in some minor bribery as part of the job he does fairly poorly, but one that likes to be nice to his granddaughter who lives with him.

By the end of the first section, that ideal is shattered as he touches that granddaughter inappropriately.

When the book switches to his daughter’s viewpoint, you find out that this isn’t the first time he’s sexually assaulted a child.

The book unfolds with him trying to get ahead in the world by helping his boss run for political office while his daughter relives the abuse she suffered at his hands and tries to prevent it from happening to her daughter.  You can see her frustration and anger because there is no place for her to go, no other way for her and her daughter to live, so she’s trapped with her abuser.

She uses her father’s guilt over what he did to her and her daughter–and he is guilty, but not enough to stop–to get additional money and concessions from him to improve their lives.

In the end, there are no winners. Even though she largely protected her daughter, the stigma of sexual abuse follows the girl through her life. It’s a sad book, but it is an excellent one. The writing is tremendous and the characters all feel real and sympathetic, despite their many foibles.

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