20 July 2012

And Laughter Fell from the Sky by Jyotsna Sreenivasan

Flap Copy from ARC: "Rasika has always tried to play the role of dutiful daughter. Even though she has a career that allows her to be financially independent, she still lives at home and knows she will someday marry an appropriate suitor. With her twenty-sixth birthday fast approaching, she agrees to an arranged marriage, all while trying to hide from her family her occasional dalliances with other men. Abhay is everything an Indian-American shouldn't be. Smart, curious and ridden with angst, he spent his post-college year in a commune, only to leave and hop among various dead-end jobs, brooding about his inability to find what he wants to do with his life. Old family friends, Rasika and Abhay seem to have nothing in common, and yet when the two reconnect by chance, sparks immediately fly. Abhay loves Rasika, but he knows her family would never approve. Rasika knows she has feelings for Abhay, but can she turn her back on the family rules she has always tried so hard to live by? The search to find answers takes Abhay and Rasika out of their native Ohio to Oregon and India, where they find that what they have together might just be something worth fighting for."

My feelings are a bit mixed on this book - I enjoyed elements of the story and the tone of the writing, but I didn't really like any of the characters. I think the author really captured the dilemma faced by so many children of immigrants - the desire to follow tradition and please parents while at the same time navigating the pressures of a new and different culture and a desire to fit in. I just wish I had been better able to relate to any of her characters.

Rasika has always been the perfect daughter - at least, she appears that way. Her parents have no idea that while she pays lip service to their beliefs and customs, and pretends to have agreed to the arranged marriage they have planned, she's actually dating various other men and finding small ways to sabotage each potential 'approved' suitor. She is obsessed with her appearance, with being viewed as stylish and successful. Her emotions are wooden and her motives suspect.

Abhay, on the other hand, has never fulfilled his parents' expectations. He excelled at school but has no ambition - he's aimlessly drifting from job to job and place to place, trying to find his true calling. He loves Rasika (the sister of his friend) but she cannot see him as a possible mate because he doesn't live up to her exacting standards of style and success.

The plot moves along fairly smoothly, though the end was too neatly wrapped up and tied in a bow for my taste - I think the author let the readers down by letting Rasika off the hook at the end for so many of her bad actions throughout the story. That being said, it was an enjoyable read, and an interesting (if slightly fluffy) glimpse into the Indian-American culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment