I Can't Breathe!
by Baldip Kaur
Author Reputation Press

"It was as if it was not enough that Aadrika was dealing with racism and sexual harassment at work, now I find out that she was neglected by the health system too!"

Khushboo is a lawyer supporting ethnic women to break free from abusive relationships. She and other activist citizens gather for a rally to remember George Floyd and demand an end to police brutality and racial injustice. Her mother insists that she get married soon, learn to cook, and be a housewife. However, Khushboo resists this traditional notion. She reveals herself to be fiercely independent. Meanwhile, Anil, Khushboo's father, is having an affair with Aadrika, a woman who grew up in an orphanage system in London and was mistreated because she was an ethnic Indian. Every character confronts racial trauma that highlights their survival skills and society's shortcomings.

This novel tackles important questions, such as why some men don't realize the responsibility they hold. There is a lot of detailed background supporting a relatable story worth reading for its concern over social issues. The author paints a realistic picture of women struggling to make a family work and depicts resilient female characters showing their strength to cope with adversity. The characters have a depth that inspires compassion, regardless of their situation. Readers somehow understand why a husband might seek a mistress, and hearts are encouraged to grow large for the activists of Black Lives Matter.

What keeps readers turning the pages is discovering Anil's plan and wondering if it will work. The uprising of farmers in India is a social issue deftly interwoven with a family crisis. Characters slowly fall apart under their own manipulations. This novel does a fine job of juggling conflicts from discrimination in the workplace to infidelity to learning to take emotional responsibility. Human struggle tests every interaction. This book shows readers what it takes to hold and heal one another, to give one another a feeling of unconditional belonging.

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