Title: Em and The Big Hoom
Author: Jerry Pinto
Age Group: Adult
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This book intrigued me because of its topic: mental illness. It has a stigma in society, and is a topic not to be discussed in public. I myself have suffered with mental illness, depression, and partially because of that, it really resonated with me. But all in all, Em and The Big Hoom is two stories in one, the story of Em and the Big Hoom, Imelda and Augustine, the narrator's parents, and their relationship with one another, and the narrator himself, and his own emotions. (After all, it isn't easy to have a 'mad mother'.) It is a story of darkness, hope, and hatred. But what really sold this book for me was its poignant, honest portrait of a family.
Em, the narrator's mother, has bipolar disorder, and quite possibly schizophrenia. The book is told in an erratic way, in a way that mirrored Em herself. It never goes in chronological order, but somehow, our narrator, with his watchful eyes, makes sense of the sometimes confusing narrative. The Big Hoom, the narrator's father, is a lovable character unto himself: long-suffering, patient, and calm, but with his own demons, aside from Em. And then there's Susan, the narrator's older sister, trying her best to have her own identity and help her family all at once. And last but certainly not least, there is the narrator himself: a young man trying to understand the confusing, and sometimes hilarious, paths to his mother's mind. Strangely enough, Pinto doesn't just create a real picture of this family; he does it with flair and, surprisingly, humor, and tenderness.
The bottom line: I loved this book wholeheartedly, though it was at times very emotional. Highly, highly recommended for those who want a drama about family! Next on deck: Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond!