Monday, July 23, 2007

Digging to America - kookiejar's review

At first this appeared to be the story of two young families who have adopted infant girls from Korea.

The Yazdans are second generations Iranian immigrants who name their new daughter Susan and let her assimilate seamlessly into American culture. The other couple are the Donaldsons, whose daughter Jin-soo is encouraged to keep and practice the Korean culture (even though she had no real knowledge of it).

However, in the middle of the novel there is a jarring narrative shift and suddenly we are following the lives of Susan and Jin-Soo's grandparents. Specifically, Jin-soo's grandfather, Dave and Susan's grandmother, Maryam. Dave is recently widowed and finds himself drawn to Maryam, while she, although attracted to Dave is put off by her unfamiliarity with American culture and the aggressively strange customs Dave's daughter initiates.

I thought it was weird that on one page we would be reading about 'Bitsy, Dave and Miriam' and a little later (when looking at the world through Jin-Soo's
eyes), these same people were 'Jin-Soo's mother, Jin-Soo's grandfather, and Susan's grandmother'. It seemed like a cheap trick (narratively speaking) and completely unnecessary.

I would have preferred if the story has continued to be about the girls and their acclimation to American life (given their foster parents' differing attitudes on the subject), but I guess the author felt differently.

That being said, the story was very affecting and I had tears in my eyes on the last page, when Maryam discovered that you don't get to choose your family, your family chooses you.


Dewey said...

Looking forward to reading this! Except for that cheap trick part. I bet that's going to annoy me.

kookiejar said...

Har! I think it will, Dewey, but it's still worth it.