An Intimate Study of Friendship and Grief
Heera Sanyal, the protagonist of Devi S. Laskar’s new novel “Circa,” struggles to be something other than a dutiful Bengali daughter, even as she manages the grief of losing her best friend to a drunk driver.
The year is 1987. High school senior Heera Sanyal lives in a Raleigh-adjacent town in North Carolina in Devi S. Laskar’s second novel, Circa, published May 3 by Mariner.
Heera has dreams, many dreams: wearing blue jeans, kissing her best friend’s brother, freely unbraiding her long, wavy hair, applying mascara. And not being “Heera Sanyal with a multitude of prefixes and hyphens and expectations in the shape and weight of a shifting subcontinent thousands of miles away.”
At home, Heera suffers her traditional Bengali parents’ expectations to be the perfect Indian daughter she certainly would be had they not immigrated to America. In the present, she is never enough for them as they hold the past too closely for Heera’s comfort. Nevertheless, she and her vivacious best friend, Marie Grimaldi, and Marie’s brainy brother, Marco, are a tight-knit group with whom she lives a separate existence. Together, they secretly engage in delinquent-worthy activities for the thrills. Pickpocketing, something for which Heera has developed talent, fuels the trio’s ultimate desire to leave Raleigh and live in New York City.
The night before Heera’s eighteenth birthday and four days before Marie’s, a drunk driver ends Marie’s life as the three walk home from a carnival. In that instant, as Marie draws seventeen shallows breaths, Heera’s and Marco’s lives change forever. [Read the full review here]