em and the big hoom us cover

Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto

Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry PintoEm and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
Published by Penguin on 6/24/2014
Source: Publisher
Pages: 224
Buy from IndieBound


A son looks back on his life in Bombay with his larger than life mother, Em, and supportive father, affectionately known as The Big Hoom. Through Em’s letters and unreliable stories, he attempts to piece together how she met his father and fell into a lifelong cycle of manic depression.

Constantly afraid he will inherit his mother’s madness, the unnamed narrator listens carefully as Em weaves in and out of stories and styles. Em’s tales vary from hilarious, raunchy dating tips to the confession that her children were her undoing, with bouts of unbearable depression and regular hospitalization in between. Each member of her family becomes a carefully placed crutch in her support system, while wondering how much longer they can all hang on.

Despite its topic, Pinto keeps Em and the Big Hoom from feeling weighted or heavy, as the novel is lifted by Em’s charm and her family’s overwhelming love. Even in the darkest moments, as her words directly wound those around her, there is an understanding of  the disease among her family and thought is carefully chosen over reaction. Jerry Pinto takes a subject that is often swept aside and turns it into an engaging, reflective story.

More Blog Reviews

A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

52 Books or Bust

  • This sounds amazing. It sounds all the way up my alley. I cannot resist stories about people who are afraid they’re going to turn into their parents (don’t know why! my parents are lovely, I should be so lucky as to turn into them). Adding it to the list straight away!

    • He does a great job of capturing that feeling here, especially with something that’s known to be hereditary.

  • Ti Reed

    I’m still not sure about this one. Its larger than life cover and quirky title caught my attention right away but I am waiting for more reviews to come in. So glad you reviewed it though because yours is the first I’ve seen!

    • I hadn’t heard about it, but Monika and Tanya’s reviews (down at the bottom) both raved and prompted me to read. They were right!

  • Nice! I just picked this up at the library.

  • I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! I thought it was pretty amazing how he handled what can really be a dark topic… and made us remember that lightheartedness can still exist within that. Great review!

  • This is the first I’ve seen of this book – it definitely sounds interesting, though I haven’t had good luck with novels about depression in the past.

  • AnnabelSmith

    Mental health is a subject I always find interesting in fiction, and this one definitely appeals to me, especially since you describe that the author manages to talk about a sometimes difficult subject without the book feeling heavy, which is quite an achievement. The next novel I’m writing is going to include some of my experiences with Post Natal depression but I want the tone to be light (not to minimise the issue, just to stop readers getting bogged down); so I’m very interested to read this & see how Jerry Pinto achieves this,

    • There are definitely a few moments with some serious punch, but you leave the book with a more positive feeling than you would expect from a book about mental illness, which is a really nice change of pace.

  • Wouldn’t have thought this one would really be anything I’d want to read but you make them all sound SO GOOD.

  • I really like books which manage to cover tough topics in a meaningful way without being dark or depressing throughout. It makes it so reading about tough topics can be an enjoyable experience as well as a worthwhile one.

  • I’m so behind on blog reading. Thanks for linking up to me. I really liked the book. Em’s voice was just so great.