The Most Precious Substance on Earth
General fiction, Multi-cultural fiction
A humorous coming-of-age novel and a sharp-edged look at how silence can shape a life, from the winner of the Journey Prize. A Chatelaine Summer Reads pick. Named one of the most anticipated books of the fall by CBC Books… and 49th Shelf. "But wait, what happened to the girl?" "I don’t know," I say. I don’t tell him that what will happen to her is what happens to every girl. Nina, a bright, hilarious, and sensitive 14-year-old, doesn’t say anything when her best friend begins to pull away, or when her crush on her English teacher intensifies. She doesn’t say anything when her mother tries to match her up with local Halifax Indian boys unfamiliar with her Saved by the Bell references, or when her worried father starts reciting Hindu prayers outside her bedroom door. ("How can your dad be happy when his only daughter is unsettled?") And she won’t speak of the incident in high school that changes the course of her life. On her tumultuous path from nineties high school student to present-day high school teacher, Nina will learn difficult truths about existing as a woman in the world. And whether she’s pushing herself to deliver speeches at Toastmasters meetings, struggling through her MFA program, enduring the indignities of online dating, or wrestling with how to best guide her students, she will discover that the past is never far behind her. Darkly funny, deeply moving, at times unsettling and even shocking, Shashi Bhat’s irresistible novel examines the fraught relationships between those who take and those who have something taken. Rich with wry humour and sharp-edged insight, The Most Precious Substance on Earth is an unforgettable portrait of how silence can shape a life.