Louisiana Catch by Sweta Srivastava Vikram | Book Review
Disclaimer - I received this free book in exchange for an honest review.
About the book:
Sweta's debut US novel Louisiana Catch tells a story about an abuse survivor who musters up the courage to run a women's conference while navigating her struggles about traditions, relationships, and self-identity.
- Louisiana Catch contains 32 chapters.
- Publisher is Modern History Press.
- Available in paperback, hardcover and digital
- Written in English.
Thoughts on Louisiana Catch:
As a biracial woman of South Asian and Latin roots, I felt a sense of familiarity when reading about Ahana’s struggles on growing up as the only child while relying on a parental figure who helped confront unfamiliar situations. From a glance, I get the impression that Ahana was quite sheltered while being exposed to the wealthy life and some politics (given her family’s reputation). Some may argue that Ahana’s upbringing is the result of helicopter parenting, to which when Ahana’s mother passed away, the protagonist was left to fend for herself by not knowing how to stand up for oneself in times of adversity or when to accept failure.
The entire book resonates with quips and reflections from her late mother as Ahana tries to navigate her way from feeling like a fraud in running a woman’s conference to accepting her mission in its entirety without regrets, despite her past. In every sense, Ahana’s journey is similar to the birth of a lotus flower, resulting in the cycle of samsara; coming out of a dark water environment to a place where you feel the sunlight of hope beaming against the vibrant leaves.
Throughout the story, Ahana comes to terms with being divorced after experiencing domestic abuse from her marriage. The author doesn’t shy away from translating Ahana’s feelings on the discussion about rape into something that other women can relate to the topic. For this portion, it reminded me of my mother’s story as a domestic abuse survivor from an arranged marriage before she was divorced and remarried to my father years later.
The overall story may seem a bit fast paced, especially from the beginning. However, the author did manage to detail the accounts, without making the reader feel like they’re lost in action. The author did provide a helpful index of the characters in the book before proceeding to the story.
I appreciate the inclusion of Hindi words (which for some, I was familiar with). Ahana’s approach to teaching Rohan (who is half Indian and half Irish) on specific keywords and the culture was refreshing. I feel that it provides the book enough authenticity when discussing cultural topics related to what life is like in India.
Speaking of life in India, it should be noted that Ahana’s uneasiness when traveling in the streets at her home country should not be passed over. What I like about the author’s inclusion on the “darker aspects” of India is she makes it known that despite its beauty, crime and violence are relevant as much as the rest of the world.
One of the biggest takeaways from the overall story is the inclusion of mental health. As someone who relies heavily on close online friends for moral support, it was terrific to see Ahana’s proactive approach (after much nudging from her cousin) to find an online therapy group where she can discuss her feelings about her recent crises. While Jay’s character followed the typical online catfish relationship, I do feel that his role in the story could be expanded a bit more. Not to say that the author didn’t do an excellent job in that sector. However, I get the sense that the author wanted to create a parallel between Jay and Dev’s personalities on how they treat women regarding psychologically damaging their confidence.
The overall story felt like watching a Bollywood movie (minus the songs). It would be amazing to see the story portrayed in the film screen. I can’t help but wonder if Hrithik Roshan would portray Rohan's character? I also feel that Deepika Padukone can easily represent Ahana's style. But that’s another blog post by itself :)
After reading Louisiana Catch, I felt elated for Ahana’s happiness and her ability to seek courage during her times of adversity. To me, Ahana represents the bravery of women coming forward about their experiences, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement. I encourage everyone to purchase Sweta’s book. You will not be disappointed.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
- Upon receiving my copy, it took about a week to finish the entire story.
- The paperback copy was well bound along with a glossy cover.
- Really dig the front cover design showcasing the protagonist near the waters while showcasing the online antagonist hidden intentions. Good choice of the colors; promoting a sense of earthiness and mystery.
- The font size was reasonable enough that didn’t require too much strain on the eyesight.