I’m lactose intolerant yet here I am reading a book about cows and milk. Hum? I thought this novel sounded interesting and that is why I asked to read it and interesting is what I got. I found out a great deal about cows but I also got an interesting story about a woman who packed up her family and took them back to India. Both Narayan and her husband were from India and they had family there. Looking out the window of her apartment one morning, she spots a woman milking a cow across the street selling the fresh milk to individuals waiting in line. Apprehensive to the idea, Narayan reaches out to talk to the woman, Sarala, and thus begins a friendship, a journey, an education that she will never forget.
I learned a great deal as Narayan and Sarala build their friendship. Sarala has a deep connection to her cows, a connection that goes back many generations. I guess a lot of what I read makes sense but to stop and think about it, I hadn’t really done that. I learned that what you taste in a cow’s milk, should be what the cow has ate. A good connoisseur should be able to taste the wheat, the grass, the barley, etc. that the cow was grazing on. Now, this pertains only to unpasteurized milk, the milk Narayan is contemplating. While in India, Narayan is learning all about this type of milk as this is what Sarala is selling. Trying to convince Narayan that this milk is superior, Sarala is educating her and is having her taste different cow’s milk. All I could think of while Narayan was concentrating on what each cow ate while she was taste testing was an individual swirling a glass of wine before taking a sip.
Most individuals know there is medical value in milk but what about the cow’s urine? What people do with the cow’s urine had me almost gagging. India does love their cows and they love every part of them. I did appreciate learning this information, as you never know when I might need to know this. Let’s talk about cow dung. It’s used for lighting fires and for fertilizer but there is much more this waste can be used for. There is medical value inside of it and you can also use it for purifying, that’s just a couple of things that Narayan learns as she talks with Sarala.
I thought it was interesting as I read about the struggle between the traditionalists and the young folk who are now making their way out into the world. Parents and grandparents want to call upon the traditions that have been in place for over 5,000 years and pass them onto their children, traditions that have worked, while the younger generation are ready to put them behind. It seems every part of the world has this struggle.
I was glad Narayan shared her story with me. I thought this novel was entertaining, educational, and clever. I got an education in cows and life in India.
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Algonquin Books/Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.