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A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev

A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev

I am completely fascinated with perspectives that come from cultural differences, and one of the authors that has stuck with me in this, knowing that I’ll get something unique, gripping and engaging is Sonali Dev. Please read on for my review and an excerpt from

A Change of Heart

First discovering Dev’s writing with A Bollywood Affair, I’ve managed to grab all of her titles for myself, although shamefully admit that my time to ‘pleasure read’ is nil. The scents and smells of India, particularly in Jess’ story here, come forward to permeate the story: while every character’s humanity and ‘sameness’ comes through, that overlay adds a layer of exotic and different, an addition that adds to the compelling plot.

Dr. Nikhil Joshi is a man living with tragedy, shadows and an ever-present bottle of whisky since his wife’s murder.  A man who had dedicated his life to helping the unfortunate and underprivileged now is lost and circling around the whys, the what-ifs and the unanswered questions since Jen’s death.  And then he spots her, HIS Jen. A mysterious woman looking just like her, claiming to have received her heart in a transplant. With a secret to share….

This story winds in and out of romance, suspense, a murder mystery and the darker issue of black market dealers in human organs. Not only do we have Nik and his questions, but the connection and secret that Jess has to share, even as she is consumed with her own worries and dangers.

Deftly Dev has woven a dark tale, with moments of bright lights that urge you to read on, despite the sounds and smells of the slums, the power players in the lucrative if wholly immoral and illegal organ trade and it’s all woven together with quotes and insets in Jen’s voice, her speaking from the grave sharing concerns, discoveries, fears and ultimately showing her courage.  A story that gracefully moves through multiple genres and yet remains ultimately undefinable in every way except to say, this is a keeper. Dev’s writing is polished and nuanced, leading the reader to conclusions without tipping her hand, allowing the characters and their own imminent sense of mortality and morality to impact in ways unexpected.

A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev

Title: A Change of Heart
Author: Sonali Dev
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Multi-Cultural
Published by: Kensington
ISBN: 1496705742
Published on: 27 September 2016
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 352
Audio Length: 12 Hours: 35 minutes
Rated: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Heat: One FlameOne FlameHalf a Flame

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About the Book:

“A rising talent.” —Booklist

Dr. Nikhil 'Nic' Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.

Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.

Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy.  She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication.

Delving beyond the surface of modern Indian-American life, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s page-turning novel is both riveting and emotionally rewarding—an extraordinary story of human connection, bravery, and hope.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Read an Excerpt 

CHAPTER 1

Nikhil’s here and I could just die of happiness. Shit, I shouldn’t have said that. Especially not now. Please, Universe, scratch that.

 

— Dr. Jen Joshi

 

Nikhil’s head felt like someone had squeezed it through a liquidizer. Whiskey burn stung his brain as if he had snorted the stuff instead of pouring it down his gullet. He leaned into the polished brass railing, letting the wind pummel his face. The ship, all twenty-four floors of behemoth decadence, was like the damn Burj Al Arab speeding across the Caribbean. And yet the only way to know they were moving was to watch the waves. His fingers released the glass sitting on the railing and it flew into the night, disappearing long before it hit the inky water.

He imagined hopping on the railing, imagined being that glass. Boom! And it would be over. Finally, there’d be peace.

The sky was starting to ignite at the edges, as though the glass of Jack he’d just tossed into the night had splattered amber flecks across the horizon. It would go up in flames soon. All of it orange and gold when the sun broke through the rim of the ocean. It was time for him to leave. The last thing he needed was the mockery of another breaking dawn.

“Sir, why don’t you stay and watch today?” A man leaned on his mop, staring at Nikhil from under his windblown hair, that tentative, guilty look firmly in place. The look people couldn’t seem to keep off their faces when they talked to Nikhil — the one that announced, rather loudly, that they were terrified of intruding. Because The Pathetic Dr. Joshi with the giant hole in his heart might break down right before their eyes.

“Very beautiful it is, no?” The man pointed his chin at the burgeoning sunrise that had just pumped Nikhil’s lungs full of pain, and waited for a response. But while the blazing pain in Nikhil’s heart was functioning at full capacity, the booze incapacitated his tongue. He wanted to react, wanted to have a conversation with the man who was obviously starved for it. He searched for words to say, but he came up empty.

Now there was a word: empty.

Still empty after two years.

The deckhand’s smiling mouth drooped into a frown. He turned away and started working the spotless floor with his mop. Shit, had he just thought of the man as a deckhand? Jen would have clonked him upside the head for it. Jen would’ve —

“What’s your name?” Conversation was better than the high-definition telecast of memories that kicked off in his brain.

“Gavin.” The man looked surprised. “From Goa. In India.”

Great. Goa. Jen’s favorite place in the whole world.

The steady boat pitched beneath Nikhil’s feet. His stomach lurched. The world somersaulted around him. He leaned over the brass railing and tried not to throw up his guts.

He failed. When the heaving stopped, the world was still spinning too fast. He lifted his T-shirt and wiped the foul-smelling puke off his mouth. Gavin from Goa was walking across the deck with a bottle of water in his hand.

Nikhil should have thanked him, should’ve told him he was fine. Instead he turned toward the stairs. In the light of day he could talk to people, pretend to be alive, but now when the world was as dark as his insides, he couldn’t. The stairs dived into the lower deck. He grabbed the railing and stumbled down, landing on his ass on the last step.

The smell of chlorine from the three-tiered pool cut past the smell of regurgitated Jack on his shirt, setting off the churning in his stomach again. He pulled himself up and dragged himself to the elevator, rubbing his face on his shoulder like the snotty, cranky brat he used to be. But no tears came to dilute the unrelenting burn of wanting.

How could it be that he was still here? The sunset, the sunrise, it was all still here when she was gone.

He wanted her back. God. Please. Give her back to me.

“Look what you’ve done to yourself, Spikey.”

His head snapped up. He didn’t remember stepping out of the elevator, but he spun around now, his breath loud in the absolute silence. The brightly lit corridor swirled around him. The bloodred carpet, the gold-striped walls, every inch of garish splendor echoed that word.

“Spikey.”

There wasn’t a soul in sight.

He followed the echoing word across the hallway and around the corner, his racing heart dragging the rest of his body along. He turned the corner, expecting to see nothing. Expecting to chase the sound the way he’d been chasing his dead wife’s memories for two years.

A shadow clad in black stood all the way across the corridor. A wisp of dark against the overpowering gold of the walls. Bright red strands cascaded around her face and into her jaw in a razor-sharp edge. Hair he knew better than he knew his own name.

He reached out and leaned into the wall, but the ship continued to seesaw beneath him. She held steady for a moment and then she was gone, melting around the corner.

About Sonali Dev

Sonali Dev’s first literary work was a play about mistaken identities performed at her neighborhood Diwali extravaganza in Mumbai. She was eight years old. Despite this early success, Sonali spent the next few decades getting degrees in architecture and writing, migrating across the globe, and starting a family while writing for magazines and websites.

With the advent of her first gray hair her mad love for telling stories returned full force, and she now combines it with her insights into Indian culture to conjure up stories that make a mad tangle with her life as supermom, domestic goddess, and world traveler.
Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog.