Tell it to the Trees by Anita Rau Badami

This book follows an Indian Canadian family, and explores the various forms of emotional and physical abuse that occurs within this family, and the inter-generational (and even external) impact and consequences of that abuse.

This family consists of a married couple and the husband’s mother and his two children; one with his current wife and one with his former.

Each chapter takes on the point of view of four characters: Varsha, the 14 year old daughter, the tenant Anu, the stepmother Suman and the younger brother Hem, each of which either are victims of abuse, and/or inflict abuse onto others.

The first 25% or so of the book paints a picture of abusive practices that are present in certain south Asian mentalities in terms of families. As someone from a South Asian background, this information wasn’t new to me and the way it was told was also way too straightforward;Personally, I’d rather a story be told through the plot, rather then the author simply explaining, however the rest of the book delivered in that aspect.

While most of the perspectives and relationships were nothing new in terms narratives surrounding abusive relationships, the narrative of the younger brother was a refreshing take on abuse, as it showed how a child may act towards their abuser and it was especially interesting because the abuser was not the parent. 

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