Monica and Samantha both undergo transformations throughout the novel, illuminating the familial challenges of bridging cultures. Audhya has a gift for description and insight. However, her long asides grow repetitive after a time, and some of the dialogue sounds stilted. Her portrayals of Indian cities are rich and vivid, but readers may be jarred by equally vivid scenes of violence. Some Bengali cultural elements are described in detail for outsiders, but others go unexplained, leaving the book’s intended audience unclear. Indian and American racial politics play significant, sometimes contrasting roles in Samantha’s life. While she is conscious of being treated as an outsider in the U.S., she shrugs off anti-Black racism among Indians. She agonizes over Monica getting engaged to Brandon, threatening to bar Monica from her house and concluding, “I can never think of him as my own son.” Monica and Brandon’s romance is less than compelling; the key relationship is between Samantha and Monica, and the conclusion of their story will have readers weeping.
Audhya connects the past and the present through highlighting both cultural comfort and dissonance in relatable terms. The strongest part of the story is the complexity of the relationship between a mother and daughter who love each other very deeply but struggle to understand each other. This endearing, sometimes tragic story will resonate with anyone who has ever had a difficult relationship with family, and particularly with members of immigrant families who are working to unite generations.
Takeaway: This powerful and insightful drama will appeal to members of immigrant families that are grappling with cultural divides across generations.
Great for fans of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B