Avni Doshi's 'Girl in White Cotton'

My thoughts on ‘Girl in White Cotton’

Hi friends! Today I’ll be sharing my very conflicted thoughts on Avni Doshi’s Girl in White Cotton, aka, Burnt Sugar.

Avni Doshi's 'Girl in White Cotton'
Avni Doshi’s ‘Girl in White Cotton’

I read this book as a part of my bookclub in May. If you are looking for a bookclub to join, we read books nominated for various prizes. Do join READ WITH NIKA BOOKCLUB

What ‘Girl in White Cotton’ Meant to Me

‘Girl in White Cotton’ was a book I picked up in May and it left me with such complicated feelings. It is described as a “love story and a story about betrayal… between mother and daughter”

A complicated mother

The thing that I could simply not comprehend was how difficult a mother Tara was. What made her act that way? What made her so… uncaring about her daughter? I have to admit that sometimes I am a person who tends to see things in black and white. And this experience of reading the book placed me in such a position where I simply could not understand the motives of the mother in acting the way she did. I think a mother is supposed to love and care for her child – not necessarily at the cost of her own selfhood – but at least actively taking action for the good of her child.

A conflicted daughter

And this is where the issue lies with me – I hate Tara for making Antara go through all that she did. The games that the mother played were not well accepted by me either – she is hot and cold, and constantly confuses her daughter Antara. Therefore it is no wonder why Antara seems unable to form stable emotional bonds with those around her. I mean, superficially they seem normal but as the reader, we get to see her emotional turmoil – one that she herself is not completely aware of. Moreover, as the aspect of memory came up again and again, I felt like both mother and daughter were becoming unreliable narrators. 

Who is responsible?

And in general, Antara is not responsible for how her mother made her feel, I believe. The reason she had all the conflicted emotions about her now-old and dementia-ridden mother, is because the mother never really gave her any security – physical, emotional, or mental. And the end just confirmed my emotions – Tara is nothing more than a vindictive soul.

Final Thoughts

As a story it made me feel so much – I applaud the author’s talent, I really do. These characters made me angry and confused, and I was definitely in for a ride. But I have to say, objectively speaking, it was very good and therefore no wonder it got nominated for so many prizes. I can say for sure that I will definitely be reading any future novels of Avni Doshi.

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