Sitting on a crowded plan flying to New Delhi with her two small children, Jenna and Jovan, we meet Layla. The scene is one we expect when a single mother is traveling alone with two young children: annoyance, irritation, physical decline. However it's not traveling alone with her children on a crowded, lengthy international flight that's the cause of Layla's discomfort. We immediately learn that Layla is instead suffering from a cocaine withdrawal only 24 hours after it was last in her system.
A product of the 'flower power' era of the 60's and 70's, Layla embodies the residual hedonism and pleasure-seeking practices associated with that bohemian era, particularly through substance abuse.
The novel follows Layla and a central cast of characters, her children, their uncle Sohan Singh, and Ricardo - Jovan's father and drug lord, through a hasty decision that has life-changing consequences for Layla and her family.
Layla in the Sky with Diamonds is a pleasurable read with beautifully descriptive scenes of New Delhi and Layla's surroundings. Sandhu has a knack for writing realistic, relatable characters that readers will feel and identify with.
Ultimately a cautionary tale about substance abuse, readers will enjoy the spiritual journey and evolution Layla undergoes in this compelling story.
About the author:
Manbeena Bhullar Sandhu holds a degree in substance abuse and addictions, as well as a master's degree in English literature. She works as an addictions counselor, actively helping those in need. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada. This is Manbeena's first book.