“How can we tell whether a bird is being chased or leading?” asks Nela, trying to analyze the motion she sees in the sky. Author Cheryl Snell leads her readers to view the world through different eyes in this intricate novel, Rescuing Ranu, and her story is a delight to follow.
Flying home from India, Nela sits next to a westerner on the plane and muses on math and the importance of seeing someone’s eyes. Sitting together in a car, two mathematicians smile, “You iterate and I converge.” Mathematician that I am, I’m hooked. But lyrical descriptions of Indian tradition are equally enticing, and pages pass in a fire-fly dance of otherness, belonging and story.
The author conveys the passion of mathematical mystery just as beautifully as that of love, and opens the worlds of university, India and mathematics to delightful scrutiny. But Jackson and Nela don’t just come from different geographical places. The mystery of family ties and separation fuel their relationship too, and Nela’s relationships with her future, job and students.
Particularly impressive is the author’s ability to include Indian words and concepts without need for obvious explanation. Images flow naturally and vividly with powerful emotions. The scene shifts; one leads, one follows, and in India little Ranu flits, sometimes young, sometimes old, on a path that skirts disaster. Perhaps love plots the turning shape of the graph.
In the end, a story that starts on one part of a circle ends on another, but the circle’s the same, unbroken despite the distance it lies across. Nela completes her best work, and hope and story survive. Lyrical in scope, in symbolism, and in plot, Rescuing Ranu is like making sense of mystery without all the answers; a novel that feels balanced, right and new, with a delightful sense of the old.