By: Sweta Srivastava Vikram
Genre: Domestic Abuse, Drama, Self-Esteem, Personal Growth
Rating: 4 stars
Publisher: Modern History Press
Release Date: April 10,2018
Ahana, a wealthy thirty-three-year-old New Delhi woman, flees the pain of her mother’s death, and her dark past, by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she’ll coordinate an Annual Conference to raise awareness of violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, offends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he’s a womanizer. Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother. Her work in the U.S. and the online medium bring the two men into her life, and Ahana learns that neither is what he seems. With their differing sensibilities on a collision course, Ahana finds herself in a dangerous situation—and she discovers a side of herself that she never realized she had.
Louisiana Catch is an emotionally immersive novel about identity, shame, and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It’s a book about Ahana’s unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to determine whom to place her trust in as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities.
As Ahana matures from a victim of domestic sexual abuse into a global feminist leader, she must confront her issues, both with the men in her life and, ultimately, with her own instincts. Whom can she rely on to have her best interests at heart?
In a nutshell, Louisiana Catch centers around a woman, Ahana, who has completely lost her self. She just got out of a marriage that has caused her to break down due not only to the downward glances of those in society but also due to a secret she has never told anyone. Her ex-husband was emotional controlling and both physically and sexually abusive. The domestic abuse in Ahana’s marriage from her ex-husband still lingers around everything in her life.
And while she has the support and guidance of her strong, smart and independent mother to fall back on, that over-protectiveness and sheltered world Ahana allows her mother to place her in, only continues to hinder her. I loved Ahana’s mother; it was clear she was well respected, sweet, kind and knew her worth, but following along Ahana’s journey without her, other readers might pick up on how much influence she really had in her daughter’s life.
When we are introduced to Ahana’s character, she’s stuck at a mid-point in where she is unsure of how and in which direction to move forward in her life and unable to face or talk about her marriage and the sexual abuse.
Simply put, Ahana’s character is stuck. She has internalized everything wrong in her life and remains hung up on all the moments she can not go back to change or stop from her toxic marriage that it prevents her from seeing good things in life. It was something her mother noticed within her daughter before she passed and it was something her aunt seemed to notice about her right away. It seemed like Ahana, subconsciously, was even aware that there was something trapped inside of her whenever she recalled the fact that no one in her family, not even her mother, knew the extent of how controlling or abusive her husband, Dev, truly was.
Putting together an entire conference for an organization to help support, protect and rehabilitate other women who have been victims of sexual abuse without being able to open up about her own trauma made Ahana feel just as trapped and silenced as she was in her marriage.
When her mother passed away, I felt like I felt that blow of the loss that Ahana was feeling. I was grieving with her throughout this book due to the amount of love and authentic support I felt between Ahana and her mother. As time passed, the rawness of her absence only dimmed slightly; it was never forgotten or overlooked. Ahana’s mother’s presence lingers around her as she moves on with her life without her one true constant. To envision life without your safe haven or the person who has always protected you in life was unimaginable.
Which is why I fell in love with Ahana’s strong bond with her (sister) cousin Naina in this book because their friendship helped to ground Ahana’s character at a time when she needed it the most. I find that it was kind of the same thing with Ahana’s developing work/friendship relationship that the author forms between the protagonist and Rohan. The push and pull between the two of them felt real and their banter brought their characters to life. It seemed clear that Rohan was very charming, but I could understand how that charm would foster doubt in Ahana’s mind towards him (and any man) when it reminded her so much of her ex-husband.
With Ahana struggling to find her way again, following her mother’s death and the still lingering trauma of her dominating, abusive marriage I thought that the sexual tension and attraction that builds between Rohan and Ahana in the book brought a lighter tone to the story. Another thing the author did in this book that I think really help to pull the reader into the story was the approach on cultural differences in the United States versus New Delhi with Ahana as its catalyst. This narrative theme aided to push forward conversations of equality, power, fear, a kind of social standard (from both sides) and shed light on the good and bad from both Rohan and Ahana’s worlds.
From Ahana’s perspective, she often took things out of context based on the notion of “looseness” that thrives in the United States and the overabundance of the social media/digital platforms that people invest their lives and time into. As a result, it made her unable to notice the clear signs of a person putting on a face for his business circle vs. a person making up identity entirely. That, on top of her already recluse and closed-off nature, I found shutdown Ahana from a lot in life.
From Rohan’s perspective, Ahana lived a sheltered life and was wound too tight. She saw him as this playboy, due to his charm, chivalry and natural confidence in his effects on women. I think on some level he was aware that she was carrying around some fear or at the very least a connection to her No Excuses conference they were planning, but did his best to be as genuine as possible with her as often as he could. And Rohan’s patience and friendship, along with Naina, were two of the main elements that helped to ease Ahana into that place of healing over her toxic ex-husband and the crazed, catfish stalker she encounters in this book. Gradually moving Ahana into that place of power, evolution, and strength.
Other takeaways from this book, besides some of the clear signs that Jay was not the person he claimed to be, I will say that beyond the personal connection I felt towards Ahana’s character on an emotional level, I could not place myself in her shoes entirely. As Ahana did come from such a successful and rich family. I do like that she seemed aware that her mother sheltered her all of her life and protected her from a lot of the world and that she recognized that she was not underprivileged or at a disadvantage when it came to being able to divorce her husband and having a life and wealth of her own to fall back on afterward.
Not to raise the claim that money should or does make your life better or perfect; it just brings a certain level of ease and comfort to life that others do not have access to especially in circumstances such as Ahana’s. I found Louisiana Catch to be captivating, insightful, heartfelt, honest, relatable and fun to read. I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of this tour.
About The Author:
Sweta Srivastava Vikram (www.swetavikram.com), featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” is a best-selling author of 12 books, five-times Pushcart Prize nominee, coach, holistic wellness entrepreneur, and a certified yoga & Ayurveda counselor who helps people lead creative, productive, and healthier lives. Louisiana Catch (Modern History Press 2018) is her debut U.S. novel. It’s the #1 new release on Amazon under women’s divorce fiction and featured on U.K.’s list of “Books to Read in 2018.” Sweta won Voices of the Year Award, past recipients of which have been Chelsea Clinton, for her work with Louisiana Catch and her tireless support of women who have experienced sexual assault and abuse. Born in India, Sweta spent her formative years between the Indian Himalayas, North Africa, and the United States collecting and sharing stories. She writes hopeful stories about multiculturalism and women’s issues with a healthy dose of suspense, reflection, wellness, and food. Sweta, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, amongst other publications, across nine countries on three continents, is an award-winning writer and graduate of Columbia University. She lives in New York City with her husband and in her spare time, teaches yoga to female survivors of rape and domestic violence. You can find her in these online spaces: Twitter (@swetavikram), Instagram (@swetavikram), and Facebook.
Thank you all for coming on over t check out my post for Louisiana Catch ^_^. It was a fun read for me and I hope you will go and check it out for yourself.
Until the next post,