Growing up is hard enough. Imagine doing so as a new immigrant where your family is still navigating the parameters of the adopted country. That’s harder. Now top this all off with the crushing weight of immutable circumstances brought about by unspeakable tragedy. This, shows Akhil Sharma in his bleak moving novel, is no ordinary “family life.” While Ajay’s parents lean on different crutches to live with extreme pain, he must carve a path through the haze to some kind of redemption. Crafted with elements from his own life, Sharma delivers an entirely brilliant take on the popular coming-of-age story.