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Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal

My take on the book:

Corazon, Donita, and Angel are Filipino domestic workers who worked in three different households in Singapore. When another Filipino domestic worker Flordeliza Martinez is arrested for murder of the woman whom she worked for, Donita is certain that Flor has been framed in this case, as Donita recollects seeing Flor at a different location, around the same time the murder has been committed.

Is Flor innocent as Donita believed and will Donita be able to trace the real murderer, with help of her two friends, forms the rest of the story.

Cora is struggling to move on from the death of her nephew whom she brought up as her own son. Unlike her peers, Cora has the most compassionate Madam to work for, however, because of this overtly friendly behaviour of Madam Elizabeth, Cora faces awkward situations moving around with her Madam.

Angel has her own personal heartbreak to deal along with taking care of Mr. Vijay at whose house she had been working for the longest time, however Vijay’s son had been stalking her around the house, as it is assumed that domestic workers can be sexually exploited without any consequences.

Donita has the most challenging household of all, as her Madam hardly treated her like a human; though Donita being the rebel of all tried to defy her orders as much as she could, sneaking out to either spend time with her Indian boyfriend or investigate about the murder Flor was blamed for.

The blurb may sound like a murder mystery, but the story is actually a social commentary on the life of women who move to a different country as domestic workers with hopes of providing a good life for their families. The story mirrors the lives of domestic workers through three characters Cora, Donita, and Angel, each of them of different age and background, and working in contrasting households, hence their personal struggles are also starkly different.

While I read about the difficult and at-times pathetic life conditions these migrant domestic workers often lead in the households they work for, this book presents it like never before through the main characters. The pace of narration is pretty slow if considered a murder mystery, however, if the story can be perceived as a story of three women, then it will interest the reader.

The story draws from real life incidents how for any crime committed in a household the domestic help becomes a default culprit and most often is punished without a proper trial or chance to prove innocence. Most conversations between the main characters are casual but heart-breaking to know are the living conditions for most migrant women.

The constant fear and insecurity they live with, how they are at the mercy of their employers and how the employers and the agencies they work for equally exploit their desperation is honestly showcased in the story.

Would recommend this to readers who prefer reading about serious issues narrated in a realistic way.

My rating:


This review is part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program.