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All those tears we can't see (2nd edition)
Gita Audhya, author
All Those Tears We Can't See addresses a lot of topics--immigration, opportunity, spirituality, myth, wisdom, class, customs, poverty, corruption and physical assault in India. It is a story of India and the USA. •\tAll Those Tears We Can't See (2nd edition) addresses the challenges immigrants face in this era due to lack of money and cultural differences but later achieves the “American dream” •\tThe new novel follows an Indian woman who migrated from India to America and finds difficulties due to lack of money and cultural differences but later have achieved “American dream” which is America’s achievement as well. •\tIt was difficult and traumatic for young Samantha to leave everything behind and starts a new life in the U.S., where the language, culture, traditions, morals, beliefs and everyday way of life are totally foreign, while retaining her own culture and beliefs. As an adult Samantha (or Shimonti as she was known as a child) races to her native India, now modern and much changed, in search of her daughter, Monica. Their fragile relationship of late has finally been shattered over the issue of interracial marriage, as Samantha fears that her daughter’s marriage to Brandon, a Christian, goes against Bengali culture. Samantha revisits her past and reexamines her life growing up in India. India’s heartbeat resonated from ancient times of harmony, in diversity and preserved the ancient temples, mosques, and churches, where Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jews all lived in harmony, except for a few occasions of violence. Monica felt so fortunate to experience it all. So many myths she read about India, and in her divine nature, she saw the footsteps from the past still existed today. Ancient India was the center of the world, where knowledge and wisdom were hidden in every mountain peak, and there was a divine mountain peak called Kailas, a paradise on Earth, where only Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati resided. Snow peaked Kailas, which was the isolated mountain chain of Everest looked like a pure, pristine, mystical dream and no one was permitted to touch her. In the Mughal period, India was extremely prosperous and had luxurious palaces , diamond, emerald and gold adornments. Maharaja wrote about the history of that time, including the exotic palace lifestyle. She had read enormous amount of literature of ancient times and the present times of India, so that she could compare what was retained and what was lost in time. She found Bengali minds were very different, laced with mysticism and very emotional, deriving the spirituality and melancholy from far away holy mountains and rivers, like her. •\tHer daughter, Monica, now a journalist who has identity crisis, is all-American in heart. Monica is fascinated by Indian people and their spirituality. She felt so lucky to experience it all. When she is physically assaulted and raped in India, Samantha seeks justice for her daughter which is very difficult in India. •\t Ultimately, Samantha realizes that her daughter’s happiness should come first, and she will have to accept Brandon as her son-in-law. But will she be able to move beyond her cultural beliefs to do so?
Reviews
Audhya’s tearjerker second novel (after In Pursuit of Love, Spirituality, and Happiness) explores the relationship between a contemporary Bengali immigrant and her American-born daughter. Shimonti Bose, raised in a middle-class Bengali family in India, got married and started life over in America in pursuit of the American dream. But Shimonti—now going by Samantha—feels torn between cultures, a divide that only deepens when she raises a daughter, Monica, who feels purely American and eventually starts dating Brandon, a white American man. Then Monica shocks and surprises her mother by accepting a journalist assignment in India. As she and Samantha travel separately through India, Monica begins to understand where her mother came from, while Samantha experiences being a stranger in a changed India.

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.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: -
Editing: C
Marketing copy: B

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