Monday, May 3, 2010

Book 27- Digging to America

I read Anne Tyler's Digging to America and sometimes I liked it and other times I didn't. When I got to the end, I couldn't decide if, overall, I liked this novel or not. I still can't decide. The worst part of all, I can't place my finger on what specifically caused my dismay.

Bitsy and Brad Donaldson, an older Hippie couple in their 40s, and Sami and Ziba Yazdan, a young American couple from Iran, both adopt baby girls from Korea. They didn't know each other before the adoption and they met at the airport when their babies were delivered to them. But the day they receive their daughter is also a day when a new friendship starts to develop. A new friendship that is, at times, a bit off putting and awkward, but a friendship of sorts, nonetheless.

Sami's mother, Maryam, is the primary voice of this narrative. She has carefully made sure she keeps her "outsiderness" even though she came from Iran about 40 years ago. She is the only babysitter for her granddaughter and she loves her. But she is often confused by the ways of her young son and his wife, who embrace their American culture.

The Donaldson's are completely American, loud, opinionated, bossy, and they make Maryam's "Iraniness" every more obvious. And throw in Bitsy's widowed father, Dave, who develop a crush on Maryam and tries to court her, and falls in love with her, she must realize who she is- is she going to be an Iranian or an American? Can she have both?

This novel takes place over the course of 7 years, each year being highlighted by an annual Arrival Party, an idea of Bitsy, to try and preserve the memories of the girls first day in the US. As the babies get older, the party seems to lose momentum but Bitsy does her best to try and hold it together, often comically.

Though the novel's story tell perspective changes among the central characters, Maryam is the central story teller is is really at the heart of the story, which is sometimes humours and often poignant.

I guess, as I read my review, it sounds like I did enjoy the story.


Rettabug said...

Maggie, I fully understand your ambiguity over a book, because I've felt the same way many times.
Even so, you did a great job of describing this book. Now I'm the one on the fence about reading it. LOL

Maggie said...

Rettabug- thanks for the compliment and so sorry to leave you in limbo! It's one of those sort of books; I'm glad you understand what I meant because I thought I sounded crazy... haha!