Goodreads ~ Ismail Boxwala made the worst mistake of his life one summer morning twenty years ago: he forgot his baby daughter in the back seat of his car. After his daughter's tragic death, he struggles to continue living. A divorce, years of heavy drinking, and sex with strangers only leave him more alone and isolated.
But Ismail's story begins to change after he reluctantly befriends two women: Fatima, a young queer activist kicked out of her parents' home; and Celia, his grieving Portuguese-Canadian neighbour who lives just six metres away.
A slow-simmering romance develops between Ismail and Celia. Meanwhile, dangers lead Fatima to his doorstep. Each makes complicated demands of him, ones he is uncertain he can meet.
Ismail and Celia are neighbours. They live across the street from each other ... six metres of pavement apart.
Ismail is originally from India, in his early fifties and works for the City of Toronto as an engineer. Twenty years ago, he made a mistake that changed his life forever ... he'd forgotten to drop his young daughter off at daycare and had left her in her car seat in his car and she died in the heat. Within a year, his marriage was over and Ismail consoled himself over the years with too much drinking in his local pub.
Celia is a Portuguese Canadian and was almost fifty. Within a couple weeks, her husband and mother passed away, she lost her home due to her husband's debts and she was forced to move in with her daughter and her daughter's family. She spends her time dressed in widow black, taking care of her young grandson, sleeping and looking out the window, watching Ismail, who is also watching her. A couple years pass and they eventually started to talk and start to find in each other the happiness they had given up on.
In the meantime, Ismail meets Fatima, a 20-year-old Indian whose parents kick her out when they discover she is gay, and they become friends.
This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it. It is written in third person perspective with a focus mainly shifting between Ismail and Celia. I liked the writing style and found myself caught up in the story and the characters. I liked the main characters, Ismail, Celia and Fatima.
I liked that there were non-traditional elements (an older Indian guy dating an older Portuguese widow and befriending a younger woman who likes other women). It was interesting to read how the author handled the unlikely friendships, acceptance and forgiveness, and moving forward to finding out who they were today, given the events of the past.
The story is set in Toronto ... Ismail and Celia "live" just northwest of me (maybe 10 minute drive) in the Lansdowne Avenue/Dundas Avenue W area. They shop where I shop in our 'hood ... at the Dufferin Mall, the No Frills at Lansdowne Avenue/Dundas Street W, the liquor store on Brock Street, etc.
I would recommend this book.