Rating: 4 stars
Sophie Shaw is a young woman living in a traditional Indian household who unexpectedly loses her father, the only parent she has known since she was six years old. When she learns that her mother, who she grew up believing died when she was young, actually left her family behind to pursue her dreams in Paris, Sophie decides to leave her home country of India for the first time to try to track her mother down. After her relatively sheltered upbringing, she is exposed to many new experiences while traveling alone, both good and bad; experiences that ensure she will not return the same naive young woman that she was when she left.
The Direction of the Wind is a story of loss, personal growth, and the fallibility of human nature. It starts off as what seems to be a coming-of-age adventure but takes a dark turn into the ways in which our parents fail us, strangers take advantage of us, and life presents challenges that seem to be without solutions. Despite obstacles which feel insurmountable at times, there is a feeling of optimism throughout Sophie’s story as well. For every stranger that betrays trust, there’s another that shows a deep, unexpected generosity. For every family member that disappoints Sophie, there’s another that comes through for her in unexpected ways.
Mansi Shah created characters with a real, authentic depth that were easy to picture and become invested. Incorporating elements of Indian culture into the story contributed to this depth and I found myself wondering how Sophie may have fared if she had experienced a different cultural upbringing. While it became disheartening to read at times, the overall storyline was captivating enough that I was compelled to keep reading to see what would happen. This was a relatively quick read, but still managed to cover a number of thought-provoking issues.
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