"The story of Tamm’s birth–that she pressed her hands together in prayer at barely an hour old–was as festooned with mythology as the spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy, who deemed her his ‘Chosen One.’ Tamm recounts how the title meant little; as a member of the controversial religious group, she was subjected to constant manipulation….Tamm, who left the group at age 24 after having a psychological breakdown, writes with wit, but her hurt is obvious. Yet as she did after performing cartwheels for Chinmoy (who died in ’07), the now happily married mother lands on her feet–and her effort is worthy of applause."
—People, four-star review
"Tamm’s indictment [of Sri Chinmoy] is more effective for being conveyed, with little rancor, from the point of view of a trusting child who dutifully adored the guru and only haltingly, in young adulthood, became disenchanted."
—New York Times Book Review
“Lyrical and soulful and, at times, utterly laugh-out-loud hilarious, Cartwheels in a Sari is a modern-day Last Emperor. Tamm, the Chosen One, brought me to tears with her innocence and her soul; yet she brought me to even more laughter with the absurdity of a life that she was thrust into and made to believe.”
—Da Chen, author of Colors of the Mountain
“A moving, haunting memoir. While Jayanti’s story may sound at first like a tale of marginality, or eccentricity, it turns out, instead, to be a tale that readers of all stripes will find familiar. The quest for truth, the search for self, the hope for love–all of these are at the heart of this blunt, smart, shimmering book. Jayanti Tamm leaves her readers doing cartwheels, and wanting more.”
—Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There and I’m Looking Through You
"[Tamm] recaptures her youthful struggles to understand the center’s secretive, emotionally repressive world, and to negotiate her relationship with the outside world of mainstream America….Written in straightforward, unadorned prose, there are occasionally comic accounts of Tamm’s pre-adolescent sexual awakenings and of her dawning consciousness of the guru’s complex relationships with some of his nubile young disciples….An earnest memoir of an exceptional childhood."
“[A] frank, clear-eyed memoir….Witty, compassionate, and often heartbreaking, Tamm’s story offers crucial insight into a cult’s inner workings and methods of indoctrination. All readers, though, will recognize universal coming-of-age themes as Tamm discards unwanted childhood lessons and begins to shape an independent adult life.”