“How can we tell whether a bird is being chased or leading?” asks Nela, trying to analyze the motion she sees in the sky. Author Cheryl Snell leads her readers to view the world through different eyes in this intricate novel, Rescuing Ranu, and her story is a delight to follow. Flying home from India, Nela sits next to a westerner on the plane and muses on math and the importance of seeing someone’s eyes. Sitting together in a car, two mathematicians smile, “You iterate and I converge.” Mathematician that I am, I’m hooked. But lyrical descriptions of Indian tradition are equally enticing, and pages pass in a fire-fly dance of otherness, belonging and story. The author conveys the passion of mathematical mystery just as beautifully as that of love, and opens the worlds of university, India and mathematics to delightful scrutiny. But Jackson and Nela don’t just come from different geographical places. The mystery of family ties and separation fuel their relationship too, and Nela’s relationships with her future, job and students. Particularly impressive is the author’s ability to include Indian words and concepts without need for obvious explanation. Images flow naturally and vividly with powerful emotions. The scene shifts; one leads, one follows, and in India little Ranu flits, sometimes young, sometimes old, on a path that skirts disaster. Perhaps love plots the turning shape of the graph. In the end, a story that starts on one part of a circle ends on another, but the circle’s the same, unbroken despite the distance it lies across. Nela completes her best work, and hope and story survive. Lyrical in scope, in symbolism, and in plot, Rescuing Ranu is like making sense of mystery without all the answers; a novel that feels balanced, right and new, with a delightful sense of the old.
Disclosure: Rescuing Ranu was offered as a free download for a short period in September, and I was delighted to acquire another of Cheryl Snell’s books.
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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After a power struggle at her university, math professor Nela Sambashivan returns to her native India to think. She is drawn, instead, into the lives of ten year old Ranu, the cunning motel-keeper who exploits her, and an unscrupulous Uncle who believes that everything is for sale. Nela's transformation from abstract thinker to selfless guardian begins when she and her lover rescue Ranu from a forced marriage, but only when the child unexpectedly fails to thrive does Nela confront her miscalculations about sacrifice, survival, and the mysterious alchemy of love.