Avni Doshi's Burnt Sugar is dense, dark and dreadful.
It deals with a lot of issues, almost all of it stemming from abandonment and neglect. I could feel that the book was somewhat spiritual but certain characters appeared and disappeared before I could understand their role fully. The narrator and her mother are the characters around which the story revolves but the issues she's tried to tackle as a writer are simply too much. Since this is fiction, we tend to ask if it's even necessary. Had it been a memoir we would have marvelled at her ability to put up with so much and yet emerge as a fully functioning adult. It feels too close to reality, and I had a hard time believing it was fiction.
The book deals with memory and since I've had a hard time with it recently, I could relate to it. Weight issues, body shaming, jealousy, comparison, hoarding, the fear of being abandoned because she wasn't independent, and physical torture are some other topics the story is made of.
What I loved about the book: The narration was entirely in first person. She used a lot of disgusting sights (example: a piece of snot, the whites from the sides of the eyes) to explain who she was beneath all her layers. She had suffered a lot and that shone throughout the book, sometimes disappointing the reader.
The ending was chaotic, attentive and brilliant. It was also very silent as we looked at everything through Antara's thoughts and mind. Unfortunately, that didn't cut for me. That kind of ending seemed best suited for a movie.
I'd read this book another time, simply to savour the slowness of the story, and to understand life through the eyes and feelings of the mother.