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Our Best Intentions:
in conversation with VIRGINIA PYE
Harvard Book Store welcomes VIBHUTI JAIN—graduate of Yale and Harvard University—for a discussion of her debut novel Our Best Intentions. She will be joined in conversation by VIRGINIA PYE—author of Shelf Life of Happiness.
A Return to In-Person Events
Harvard Book Store is excited to be back to in-person programming. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:
- Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.
About Our Best Intentions
Babur “Bobby” Singh, single parent and owner of fledging Uber business “Move with Bobby,” 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’s swimming.
During summer break, Angie is walking home after training at the high school pool when she finds Henry McCleary, a classmate from a wealthy, prominent family, stabbed and bleeding on the football field. The police immediately focus their investigation on Chiara Thompkins, a runaway Black girl who disappears after the stabbing and—it’s later discovered—wasn’t properly enrolled in the public high school.
The incident sends shock waves through the community and reveals jarring truths about the lengths to which families will go to protect themselves. As the town fractures, Angie must navigate conflicting narratives and wrestle with her own moral culpability. Meanwhile, Babur’s painstaking efforts to shield Angie and protect his hard-earned efforts to assimilate overshadow his ability to see right from wrong.
Alternating between multiple perspectives, Our Best Intentions is a suspenseful drama about a father and daughter re-examining their familial bonds and place in the community. Both a gripping page-turner and an intimate portrait of an immigrant family, Vibhuti Jain’s provocative debut explores how easily friendships, careers, communities, and individual lives can unravel when the toxicity of privilege and racial bias are exposed.
Praise for Our Best Intentions
“Few literary pleasures equal that of coming upon the first novel of a supremely talented writer. Among the many gifts of Vibhuti Jain’s Our Best Intentions is the relationship of father and daughter—each the parent of the other—which is perfectly drawn, exquisite. There’s a real story here too. And important social issues raised. But we keep coming back to the two at the center, whom we carry with us long after the last page.” —Roger Rosenblatt, New York Times bestselling author of Making Toast
“Vibhuti Jain’s gripping debut novel, Our Best Intentions, about a working class Indian American father and daughter who get entangled in a criminal investigation of a brutal assault on a privileged white teenager in their wealthy suburban town, is both thought-provoking and riveting. Jain brilliantly captures the teenage angst and parent-child tensions, while also tackling issues of race and belonging with empathy and grace. The characters are so real they will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.” —Elyssa Friedland, author of Last Summer at the Golden Hotel and The Most Likely Club
“Vibhuti Jain’s compelling novel challenges the carefully constructed American myths of the nice town and the striving immigrant success story, providing a nuanced take on the ways in which families and communities seek to protect themselves, even in the face of larger moral obligations…I tore through this book, rooting for the well-drawn characters despite their flaws, and despite knowing, as Jain shows us, that no amount of hard work, no number of laps swum, or even connections tapped and money paid, will ever let us fully outrun our pasts.” —Rita Cameron, author of The House Party