Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Review ~ The Invitaiton by Anne Cherian

Vikram, Jay, Francis and Lali all meet as students at UCLA and become friends because of their Indian heritage. Coming from vastly different backgrounds from different parts of India, each came to America to try to become successful and live the American dream and live up to the expectations of those back home. But after graduation, their lives once again go in different directions and they lose touch. That is why when Vikram sends them an invitation to his son's graduation from the prestigious MIT it throws the other 3 into a mini crisis of feeling obligated to go yet curious to see how the rest have fared in life.

 Vikram was the nerdy, studious one of the group and went on to found his own successful computer company and is all about showing off his success. Lali left university still single much to the dismay of her mother back home but has since married a very successful American doctor. But she feels at a crossroads in her life because her husband has become very involved with studying Judaism and she feels left out. And now, when appearances are everything, her son wants to take a year off of Harvard and her and her husband are not in agreement about it. Jay and Francis were the golden couple of the group who were expected to be nothing but successful. But when Francis quite her schooling after marrying Jay and starting a family she never did go back. And Jay has been stuck in middle management jobs because he was short of actually getting his degree because of one lousy assignment he didn't hand in and never got around to getting done. Add to that a teenager failing high school and the desire to attend the party is minimalized.  All are nervous to attend because of the different things in their lives they have kept secret and consider failures but little do they know that the really "successful" one of them, Vikram, is also watching his dreams fall apart around his very feet.

 This was such an interesting story of 3 immigrant Indian families trying to resolve their Indian heritage while living the American dream. All the drama of high expectation versus reality played out so interestingly. I found it fascinating reading of Indian regional differences. All the angst of a high school reunion was present in the story even though it was 25 years after their university graduation as they each tried to hide their secrets from each other. I found the exploration of the pressures of image and expectation of a culture very absorbing. However, the story ended way too abruptly and unsatisfyingly for me with story lines unresolved and many unanswered questions. It was almost as if the author had to end it. right. now. Or as if it was left as a cliff-hanger to a book that is in the future. But I didn't see any reference to another part 2 coming. So I felt left hanging. If not for the ending I would have rated it a 9 or 9.5. Other than that, I really enjoyed this story and want to read her other book: "A Good Indian Wife".


Faith said...

Hm.....perhaps the author IS going to write a sequel...maybe there's a website to let us know? sounds like a pretty good daughters have several Indian friends and one of my best childhood friends was from India and we are still in touch via FB! I love learning about their culture.

Barbara H. said...

I didn't realize until having an Indian daughter-in-law that the Asian community in general holds to a high level of "success" for its children. She was unfavorably compared to the others in their community for majoring in Children's Ministries while they became doctors and lawyers. She has mentioned the regional thing, too. Sounds like an interesting book.

Sandra said...

Growing up we had quite a few Indian friends, loved them, they were so sweet :)

This sounds like a good book Susanne :)