Our Best Intentions

Vibhuti Jain

Quick Synopsis

A suspenseful drama about an immigrant family caught in a criminal investigation, perfect for readers of Everything I Never Told You.

Publisher’s Synopsis

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 pulsating story 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.

Book Review

Our Best Intentions is a debut novel about an Indian immigrant father, Barbur, raising his daughter, Angie, in the rich, suburban enclave of Westchester County, New York. As Angie returns from swim practice one summer day, she stumbles upon the remnants of a crime and becomes unwillingly involved by calling for help.

Our Best Intentions is complex exploration of race, class, and culture and the privilege they afford. The story dives into the struggles of navigating a culture and community outside your own, particularly from a first and second generation immigrant perspective. While there is a bit of mystery woven into the narrative, this novel falls much more in the literary fiction genre.

Our Best Intentions offers readers a narrative that feels like a firsthand biographical account. Told through multiple points of view, each character’s voice reflects their thoughts, feelings, and motivations. In this way, the story becomes immersive and emotional. I do think the ending could be stronger and provide more closure. Still, I was satisfied where Jain chose to end.

For a debut novel, I found Jain’s character development to be especially strong. Each narrator and character is distinct with their own internal conflicts. For me, Barbur was written perfectly. Despite not particularly liking some of his opinions or actions, Barbur was incredibly reminiscent of an Indian immigrant I know, from the things he said, felt, and understood to his treatment of mental health. Whether you know someone like the characters or not, Jain crafted characters that feel fully formed and familiar.

In Our Best Intentions, Jain’s writing does border on young adult at times. I think you could interpret this as a positive or a negative. On the positive side, that means Jain captured the voice of a teenager since several of the narrators are in high school. On the negative side, a lot of serious topics and deep issues are included in the story. However, the issues are not given the full depth and exploration they demand.

I struggled with Our Best Intentions but not because the book or writing was bad. Instead, Jain’s piercing insight, complex characters, and immersive writing struck a chord – one that happens to be sensitive.

The things that frustrated and enraged me in Our Best Intentions were not writing or plot issues that reflect poorly on the novel. Instead, the book was accurate and reflective of people, particularly BIPOC and immigrant individuals, living in white, wealthy communities. It was my personal history and familiarity with the situations and events the book presented that angered me and caused me stress. Our Best Intentions encapsulated all my negative academic and school experiences in one book plus those which I have not experienced but infuriate me nonetheless.

Overall, Our Best Intentions is a solid debut novel that explores hard-hitting, evocative topics through a strong story and robust characters. I definitely recommend it and look forward to Jain’s future books.


Overall Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Character Development

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Our Best Intentions


Literary Fiction

Publication Date
March 14, 2023


Storygraph Rating
3.89 stars

Goodreads Rating
3.98 stars

Buy Now

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from its publisher, William Morrow. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.

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