Family Life

The Mishras' Means of Coping in 'Family Life' College

Akhil Sharma’s novel Family Life is based on his life as part of an immigrant family and the struggles he and his family faced. Sharma, through the eyes of the narrator named Ajay, details the difficulty of assimilating into the United States after immigrating from India and focuses on the key differences that set Indian families apart from American ones. The strain placed on his family and their relationships with each other following his older brother Birju’s accident in the United States is one of the main focal points of the novel. Birju dives head first into a swimming pool and becomes severely brain damaged, so much so that the family is forced to spend most of their time caring for him. Following Birju’s accident, Ajay and his parents all find ways to escape reality: Shuba turns to faith and anger, Rajinder turns to alcohol, and Ajay desperately searches for acceptance and love from his peers.

Shuba utilizes her faith and her anger to cope with Birju’s accident. Immediately after Birju is hospitalized, Shuba sets up an altar in his room and begins singing prayers and burning incense. She continues all throughout almost the entire night in hopes of quickening Birju’s recovery (Sharma 53). After being in the hospital for a...

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