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"…absorbing…a delightful intrigue, with strong characters who develop and grow throughout the book as they face frightening turns."
"…eloquent prose and original, vivid details…"
When Vic Singh finds a dead blue butterfly—out of place in his cold, upstate New York village—he knows something is terribly amiss. Yet he is too busy dodging the bully at his high school, let alone trying to live up to his father’s expectations, to look much further into the environmental oddities around him.
Meanwhile, for Vic’s father, Paul, the ghosts of the past cause him to pressure his son to live up to his Sikh traditions—while his Latvian wife, Maija, is haunted by the present: She’s having new and ominous psychic visions even though she can’t read her own teenage children. Isabella, attempting to lose herself through her role in a school play, has an illness she can't seem to shake—and Vic, trying to find himself, is spending more time alone in nature.
Then Paul’s father and Maija’s mother move in to the family home, upending the delicate balance of this Indian/Latvian family and its two American teenagers. Yet, as the environmental devastation that Vic’s butterflies have forewarned comes to bear, the family comes together in new and unexpected ways.
Olivia Chadha’s lovely, multilayered novel brings us into an extended family of three generations that strives to remain together in an unstable world.
"Chadha's absorbing first novel depicts a family of first-generation immigrants in upstate New York encountering the difficulties of survival, assimilation and longing for home…It's a delightful intrigue, with strong characters who develop and grow throughout the book as they face frightening turns."
"The story is developed through eloquent prose and original, vivid details that leave the reader with a clear portrait of each character’s internal and external design…Each character’s personal exploration of self reveals something about another member of the family. As they unknowingly answer one another’s questions, a greater picture of the community emerges, leaving readers with an unexpected, yet believable, revelation about life in America."
"Olivia Chadha’s Balance of Fragile Things tells a unique story and tells it with comic flair and rich, maximalist prose. The members of a mixed Sikh and Latvian family in a rust-belt town in upstate New York discover a dark secret about the town’s industrial past, but there are town fathers who don’t want it revealed. The novel’s attention to the earth beneath its characters gives it both a literal and metaphorical depth, and the characters themselves, especially the Singh family, are unforgettable–funny, smart, reflective, and brave. Above all, Chadha’s prose is equally gorgeous and precise, and always full of energy and movement."
"A luminous and sophisticated novel, Balance of Fragile Things offers a compelling view into modern family life with all its complications, secrets, and unbreakable bonds. Olivia Chadha’s elegant prose and deft cultural insight have created an indelible portrait of the world we live in now."
"Here is a new voice in American literature worth celebrating. Olivia Chadha is a young writer whose first novel, Balance of Fragile Things, deserves our immediate attention. Her talent is evident on every page."
"Balance of Fragile Things is the story of a mixed Indian and Latvian family learning to come together in difficult times, while they unravel a potentially devastating environmental mystery…The book is a love letter to families and a celebration of their inevitable complications and their resiliency. It also offers a strong environmental message, combining scientific discussions of far-reaching ecological abuses and poetic descriptions of butterflies and their habitat."