To Go: 32
61. The Very Thought of You — Rosie Alison
62. Possession — A.S. Byatt
63. Maine — J. Courtney Sullivan
64. Winnie the Pooh — A.A. Milne
65. Brokeback Mountain — Annie Proulx
66. 44 Charles Street — Danielle Steel
67. The Perfect Gentleman — Imran Ahmad
68. And Laughter Fell from the Sky — Jyotsna Sreenivasan
Still living at home despite a good career and financial independence, beautiful and sophisticated Rasika has always been the dutiful daughter. 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 son shouldn’t be. Having spent his postcollege years living in a commune, he now hops from one dead-end job to another, brooding over what he really wants to do with his life.
Old family friends, Rasika and Abhay seem to have nothing in common, yet when the two reconnect by chance, sparks immediately fly. Abhay loves Rasika, but he knows her family would never approve. Rasika reluctantly accepts 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.
I impulse-bought And Laughter Fell from the Sky on Black Friday, along with three other books (I know I should feel ashamed, but I’m really not), and, in an unusual way, it made a perfect follow read for The Perfect Gentleman. I had equally high expectations for both of them, and by both I was let down.
I’ll start with what I did like about the book, first. Though Rasika and Abhay were both, at times, frustrating characters, there was a really interesting underlying theme about community and belonging. Both of them were first generation Indian-Americans, and being in that position put both at a disadvantage of being caught between cultures. Mid-way through the book Rasika tells Abhay about growing up trying to dress like her American friends and act as “carefree” as they supposedly were, all while cheating off her classmates to make sure she got the good grades her Indian parents expected of her. There was something interesting in the chasm between the Indian community she was surrounded by and was pressured to be a part of, and the American culture that she tried so hard to fit into. It was one of the few things in the novel that I considered well handled — I didn’t feel like I was being beat over the head with it.
On the downside, Rasika and Abhay were, at times, positively loathsome. I guess it’s a situation I can’t relate to, but I just kept getting frustrated that neither of them could just get their lives together and figure out what it was they wanted. And the dialogue was a little cheesy, but I’m pretty lenient with that. (I do read Nora Roberts, after all…)
As a final note: I’ve never watched a Bollywood movie, but this book strikes me as the literary equivalent of one. It was interesting.
Next book: Maybe The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud. It’s the shortest book I have right now.