Keya Das's Second Act
by Sopan Deb
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Pub Date 05 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 05 Jul 2022
Shantanu Das is living in the shadows of his past. In his fifties, he finds himself isolated from his traditional Bengali community after a devastating divorce from his wife, Chaitali; he hasn’t spoken to his eldest daughter Mitali in months; and most painfully, he lives each day with the regret that he didn’t accept his teenaged daughter Keya after she came out as gay. As the anniversary of Keya’s death approaches, Shantanu wakes up one morning utterly alone in his suburban New Jersey home and realizes it’s finally time to move on.
This is when Shantanu discovers a tucked-away box in the attic that could change everything. He calls Mitali and pleads with her to come home. She does so out of pity, not realizing that her life is about to shift.
Inside the box is an unfinished manuscript that Keya and her girlfriend were writing. It’s a surprising discovery that brings Keya to life briefly. But Neesh Desai, a new love interest for Mitali with regrets of his own, comes up with a wild idea, one that would give Keya more permanence: what if they are to stage the play? It could be an homage to Keya’s memory, and a way to make amends. But first, the Dases need to convince Pamela Moore, Keya’s girlfriend, to give her blessing. And they have to overcome ghosts from the past they haven’t met yet.
A story of redemption and righting the wrongs of the past, Keya Das’s Second Act is a warmly drawn homage to family, creativity, and second chances. Set in the vibrant world of Bengalis in the New Jersey suburbs, this debut novel is both poignant and, at times, a surprising hilarious testament to the unexpected ways we build family and find love, old and new.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 88 members
I was really excited to read this as the author is a Bengali American.
The premise this quite familiar to me being raised in a conservative household who also thinks they are progressive. There are a lot of taboos in every culture so I cant single out Bengalis in general. But I do love the redemption journey of this book.
It is written well and was an easy read with an ending that lets your imagination create possibilities. The only caveat that I can think of is that there are a few dialogues that have Bengali without any Appendix for translation. I enjoyed them a lot and feel that is what made it endearing for me. But I am not sure how non Bengali readers will feel about them.
Thank you #NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read this.
We all make mistakes in life. Some decisions and have more devastating consequences than others. Some things we say and do can never be undone. Or unsaid. This is a story where family members let each other down. And it is how they come back and find each other again. Beautifully written and realistic. This deals with a very timely subject I highly recommend it for its unique plot, character development, and superior writing. We all go on, But we will never be the same.
I love this book. I absolutely adore it. The theatre aspect of this book was the most fun and the way that they family dynamic was portrayed was heartwarming. The multiple characters were handled with a clear dynamic and their voices were so unique that it made it a pleasure to read. I HIGHLY recommend this book. It's wonderful.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Multi POV family stories are my #1 favorite sub genre, and this family's reckoning with their past and grief, the ways they're isolated from and reconnect with each other, the instances where they each carry their regret with them AND build new love and risk and art into their lives totally swept me away. The shared project and the characters it brings in are pitch-perfect.
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