Only the Eyes Are Mine
Usha Alexander
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Buy *Only the Eyes Are Mine* by Usha Alexander online

Only the Eyes Are Mine
Usha Alexander
Frog Books
240 pages
August 2005
rated 2 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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When Sita, the protagonist of Usha Alexander’s debut novel, looks in the mirror, she states, “Only the eyes are mine.” For a lifetime now nearing its end, she has been torn between the duties imposed upon an Indian girl/woman during the middle and latter decades of the twentieth century. As a child bride (a practice since outlawed), Sita suffered having a husband chosen for her by her parents, which resulted in a loveless and unconsummated marriage—disastrous for a woman whose value was to be defined by bearing children and caring for an extended family.

Chapters alternate between Sita’s painful memories of her life in India, her present-day activities, and the problems of her brother’s family in the United States. Although it is interesting for the culture it portrays, Only the Eyes Are Mine lacks focus. The omniscient narration makes clear each character’s thoughts, sometimes too clearly, leaving little need for the reader to infer or imagine:

Under the glaring, brittle sun of the dry season, within the crumbling walls of her parents’ wretched home, Sita lay still at last. In the midst of the family bustle, she immersed herself most deeply in her loneliness. Here, she brooded over the course her life now followed. She lifted her deceptions, her uncertain versions of herself, holding them above the newly-filling mound of her belly, turning them within her mind. (132)
Some descriptive passages are lyrical and add color to the tale; however, overall the prose is workmanlike and the ending predictable. The novel would benefit from a more restricted viewpoint, some serious editing, a more refined book design, and better proofreading.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Jeanne M. Lesinski, 2007

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