Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Now You See Us
by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Read by Angela Lin
11 hours, 11 minutes
Published March 2023 by HarperCollins Publishers

Publisher's Summary: 
Corazon, Donita, and Angel are Filipina domestic workers—part of the wave of women sent to Singapore to be cleaners, maids, and caregivers.

Corazon: A veteran domestic worker, Cora had retired back to the Philippines for good, but she has returned to Singapore under mysterious circumstances. Now she’s keeping a secret from her wealthy employer, who is planning an extravagant wedding for her socialite daughter.

Donita: Barely out of her teens, this is Donita’s first time in Singapore, and she’s had the bad luck to be hired by the notoriously fussy Mrs. Fann. Brazen and exuberant, Donita’s thrown herself into a love affair with an Indian migrant worker.

Angel: Working as an in-home caregiver for an elderly employer, Angel is feeling blue after a recent breakup with the woman she loves. She’s alarmed when her employer’s son suddenly brings in a new nurse who may be a valuable ally...or meant to replace her.

Then an explosive news story shatters Singapore’s famous tranquility—and sends a chill down the spine of every domestic worker. Flordeliza Martinez, a Filipina maid, has been arrested for murdering her female employer. The three women don’t know the accused well, but she could be any of them; every worker knows stories of women who were scapegoated or even executed for crimes they didn’t commit.

Shocked into action, Donita, Corazon, and Angel will use their considerable moxie and insight to piece together the mystery of what really happened on the day Flordeliza’s employer was murdered. After all, no one knows the secrets of Singapore’s families like the women who work in their homes…

My Thoughts: 
Falling behind on reviews so we're going back to a tried and true way to get my thoughts down quickly.

Recommended by: 
  • My aunt, whose book club read it. She and I aren't always in complete agreement about books but I always know, going in, her honest opinion about a book which makes it easier for me to decide which ones to read. 

What I Didn't Like: 
  • My one quibble with this one was that Jaswal threw in a lot of "issues" here. That can feel a little forced at times, especially when there is plenty to consider as it is. 
What I Liked: 
  • Angela Lin does a terrific job giving each of her characters a unique voice. 
  • This book is why I read books about other cultures. I had no idea how the domestic worker industry works outside of the United States (to be honest, it probably works this way for a lot of immigrants in the U.S. as well). These people, who leave their own countries to try to earn money to give their families a better life, are treated as nothing more than a commodity. They aren't allowed to move freely between jobs; they are constantly accused of all manner of things, from laziness to theft to greater crimes; they are at the complete mercy of their employers, who may abuse them, refuse to pay them, and not allow them any time off. 
  • Despite all of that, there was a lot of humor in this book, which kept it from being overwhelming. 
  • It's a David vs. Goliath story and, at least to some extent, David gets the upper hand here. 
Would I Recommend It: 
  • Yes, if you like to read books about other cultures and if you enjoy fiction that also teaches you. 
  • Yes, for book clubs - there is a lot here to discuss. 

1 comment:

  1. We have the domestics here too, just not foreigners. Our workers go overseas a lot of them and the stories are mixed. But always sad involving a lot of sacrifice.