Our Best Intentions
By Vibhuti Jain
William Morrow; hardcover, 352 pages; $27.99; available today, Tuesday, March 14th
Vibhuti "Vib" Jain's first novel is Our Best Intentions, which focuses on an immigrant family caught in the middle of a criminal investigation. She works in international finance development in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she lives with her husband. Jain began her career as a corporate lawyer here in New York City, after she earned degrees from Yale University and Harvard Law School.
Jain found the inspiration for this story from her own experiences growing up in a place like the fictional town in the book, and as an Indian-American, she shares the identity of the main character, Angie. Jain explores the roles race and class play in the forming of a community, as she has witnessed in her own life.
Babur "Bobby" Singh is a single parent and owner of a fledgling Uber business, "Move with Bobby," and he remains ever hopeful about ascending the ladder of American success. He lives in an affluent suburb of New York with his daughter, Angie, an introverted teenager who is uncomfortable in her own skin unless she is swimming.
While on her summer break, Angie is walking home from training at the high school pool when she finds one of her classmates, Henry McCleary, who comes from a wealthy, prominent family, stabbed on the football field.
Understandably, the incident sends shock waves through the community, and jarring truths about the lengths to which families will go to protect themselves are exposed.
The focus of the police investigation becomes Chiara Thompkins, a runaway Black girl who disappears after the stabbing and, as it's later revealed, was not properly enrolled in the public high school.
As the torn is torn apart, Angie must navigate conflicting narratives and wrestle with her own moral culpability. Meanwhile, Babur's efforts to shield Angie and protect his hard-earned work at assimilating overshadow his ability to see right from wrong.
Our Best Intentions is told from multiple perspectives, which works perfectly for such a deeply-layered story. The suspense derives from Babur and Angie, a father and daughter who are re-examining their familial bonds and place in the community. In addition to being an intimate portrait of an immigrant family, there is an exploration of how easily friendships, careers, communities, and individual lives can unravel when privilege and racial bias are exposed.
AUTHOR APPEARANCE In BROOKLYN: Vibhuti Jain will be appearing, in conversation with Manish Dayal, on Thursday, March 30th, from 7:00-9:00 P.M., at POWERHOUSE Arena in DUMBO (28 Adams Street, at the corner of Adams and Water Street @ the Archway. For more information, click here.