Hello, folks! Today I’m going to share a review of a book by an Indian author, called “Em and The Big Hoom”. So, let’s begin!
P.S.: This review is spoiler-free!
In a one-bedroom-hall-kitchen in Mahim, Bombay, through the last decades of the twentieth century, lived four love-battered Mendeses: mother, father, son and daughter. Between Em, the mother, driven frequently to hospital after her failed suicide attempts, and The Big Hoom, the father, trying to hold things together as best he could, they tried to be a family.
‘Em and The Big Hoom’ is an eye-opening and moving tale of living with someone who suffers from a mental illness. Imelda, or ‘Em’, as she is fondly called by her family members, suffers from manic depression, and our unnamed narrator, Em’s son, recounts the highs and lows that come with living and caring for a mentally ill patient.
The thing that I really liked about the book is that there is no sugar-coating of Em’s illness in the story. Since the seriousness of her illness prevents her from properly functioning in the society, the caregivers of Em, who are her husband i.e. The Big Hoom and their children, go through a lot of turmoil. They love and care for her but are equally frustrated and impatient with her at times. Also, Em’s illness seems to encompass her. It’s difficult to tell whether her behaviour at times is part of her illness or her personality. However, she is highly intelligent, observant, emotional and an extremely talented writer, which is proven from the various journal entries and unsent letters written by her.
Overall, this book is a grim depiction of the agonies that have to be endured by a person suffering from a mental illness as well as her family members. I can’t say that I “enjoyed” reading the book but it was an engrossing read for sure.