Queen of Dreams
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
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Queen of Dreams

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
352 pages
September 2004
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Rakhi has spent all her life trying to understand her enigmatic mother, a dream teller trained in India to read the dreams of others and help them find resolution. Dedicated to her work, Rakhi's mother frequently seems emotionally aloof, protective of her gift. Yet Rakhi believes that if she can solve the import of her mother's past, she will locate the missing piece of herself. Her mother dies suddenly, leaving only her Dream Journals to uncover the secrets of the past.

Rakhi is a young woman at a crossroads, recently divorced and riddled with resentment for a husband she still may love. The business she shares with her best friend in Berkeley may be in trouble, and her painting is all that gives her comfort. Rakhi's six-year old daughter doesn't understand why her safe world has changed so drastically. Queen of Dreams is essentially Rakhi's story, but her mother's past is pivotal to the daughter's choices and the consequences of her decisions, as she is forced to examine her own motives and fears, to challenge an incessant drive to control and debilitating lack of identity.

In beautifully rendered prose that slips between Rakhi's life and her mother's Dream Journals, we learn both the frailties and strengths of these remarkable women, the threads that bind their hearts together, even in death, and the courage of testing personal boundaries.

The Indian-American community in Berkeley is vital and committed, mixing their Indian values with the multi-layered modern world of a city known for intellectual curiosity and social innovation. In contrast, the sheltered life the Queen of Dreams leaves behind in India is shrouded with mystery, years spent training for a life of the spirit, transcending the frivolous in the search for enlightenment.

Divakaruni joyfully brings these two worlds together in a community whose historical identity adds to the great blend of cultures in a country built on diversity. When the senseless brutality of 9/11 interjects violence, fed by fear of the unknown, the stunned community must recover, refusing to be separated from the country where most of them were born.

A gifted storyteller, Divakaruni weaves words into images in a heady concoction that is both exotic and familiar. Each new novel adds to the author's reputation for her unique talent of blending culture to culture, with special attention to the spiritual ties that connect humanity. Reaching past the obvious to the inner world, the secret place where fears and dreams reside, Divakaruni examines the source of identity, the essential relationship of parent to child and the priceless gift of acceptance.

Click here for Luan Gaines' interview with Queen of Dreams author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Luan Gaines, 2004

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