I recently read White Fragility and got to thinking about how I don’t seek out diversity in my reading. I then saw that I could participate in a book tour covering a diverse author. Not only that, but the story is about an immigrant in the United States.
R.S.V.P. offered the perfect opportunity to quit being so entrenched in my own beliefs and views.
R.S.V.P. is about the owner of a popular tea café in California named Jay Sethi. Jay moved to America after graduating from college and wanting to seek opportunity in America. He was haunted by his dad leaving the family and just wanted to start over somewhere new.
In America, Jay finds love. His love is lost after the toxic relationship takes a turn for the worst. This caused Jay, who was working as an accountant at the time, to take on his former fiancé’s debt and do what he loves by starting a tea café.
This relationship and the tough upbringing he had disillusioned him, so he doesn’t have any really close friends other than his dog Yogi. Jay’s cousin Gina decides to come to visit from her University in Jamaica to study Jay as the subject for her master’s thesis for her psychology program.
Jay, having previously trained Gina on how to run the café during her previous visits, gives her a refresher then decides to use the opportunity to go on his first-ever vacation. He and Yogi end up going on a cruise. The cruise is a wonderful escape for Jay until the boat has a crash and begins sinking. Through happenstance, Jay ends up in a lifeboat with only Yogi. They float off by themselves and wash ashore a remote island inhabited by an indigenous people. Here Jay is able to be introspective and learn what really matters in life. He is able to confront his past and deal with his mental state.
R.S.V.P. is not a novel that is written to be surprising. You know the cruise will crash before he even decides to go. It’s one of those books that’s really about the journey. R.S.V.P. is all about dealing with tough times and learning to slow down to see what you really need to pay attention to in life.
Jay’s journey is extremely inspiring. He handles everything so well. It’s really cool to see Jay go from being a stickler about cash to learning to cope in a community that doesn’t even use money. He shows the importance of dealing with trauma in life. Although, I don’t think surviving a cruise crash and being stranded on an island is everyone’s ideal way of doing this.
I did struggle a bit with some of the writing. I don’t know if this is because I’m so used to modern American writing though. That’s why I want to expand my horizons. I know the author didn’t take the idea of “show don’t tell” very seriously. She did both. There is a lot of showing and telling in the same paragraph, which gets to feel a little monotonous.
But hey, I can’t critique too hard because I have yet to write a book myself!
Honestly, the show and tell aspect aside, R.S.V.P. is a very intriguing look into how one’s past can influence their modern mindset. It also shows that it can be overcome through serious practice. Sometimes, you need to just disconnect for a bit. Stop checking your social media; don’t watch the news; heck, don’t even turn on the TV; sit and think. Sometimes that will help you comprehend what you need to do to live your ideal life.