book cover of The Most Precious Substance on Earth
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The Most Precious Substance on Earth

(2021)
A novel by

 
 
A Chatelaine Summer Reads pick. Named one of the most anticipated books of the fall by CBC Books and 49th Shelf.

Journey Prize winner Shashi Bhat’s sharp, darkly comic, and poignant story about a high school student's traumatic experience and how it irrevocably alters her life, for fans of
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, Girlhood, and Pen15

Bright, hilarious, and sensitive fourteen-year-old Nina spends her spare time reading Beowulf and flirting with an internet predator. She has a vicious crush on her English teacher, and her best friend Amy is slowly drifting away. Meanwhile, Nina’s mother tries to match her up with local Indian boys unfamiliar with her
Saved by the Bell references, and Nina’s worried father has started reciting Hindu prayers outside her bedroom door. Beginning with a disturbing incident at her high school, THE MOST PRECIOUS SUBSTANCE ON EARTH tells stories of Nina’s life from the ‘90s to present day, when she returns to the classroom as a high school teacher with a haunting secret and discovers that the past is never far behind her.

Darkly funny, deeply affecting, unsettling, and at times even shocking, Shashi Bhat’s irresistible novel-in-stories examines the relationships between those who take and those who have something taken. THE MOST PRECIOUS SUBSTANCE ON EARTH is a sharp-edged and devastating look at how women are conditioned to hide their trauma and suppress their fear, loneliness, and anger, and an unforgettable portrait of how silence can shape a life.


Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"High school is a setting ready-made for drama, a fact that Shashi Bhat exploits to great effect in her glorious novel. Bhat precisely captures adolescence with all its ennui and angst, and she is a master of observation, finding humor in the quotidian. Full of wit and insight, The Most Precious Substance on Earth is a joy to read. A sheer delight." - Sharon Bala

"With language as lovely as it is razor sharp, Shashi Bhat paints an indelible portrait of the pleasure and pain of adolescence--and the scars it leaves behind. Like the young woman at its center, this novel-in-stories has a fierce voice, a soft beauty, and a huge heart." - Robin Wasserman


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