Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Anil Patel is the oldest son in a large Indian family and as such is set to inherit his father's role as arbiter of the clan.   But since he was 10 years old, when his father helped a family member to make a decision to seek surgery to help a baby with a cleft lip, his father has had dreams of Patel becoming a doctor to help their community.  Leaving his home and close childhood friend, Leena, Anil goes to study for six years.  When he lands an opportunity to finish his education at a prestigious hospital in the States his father buys his plane ticket and encourages him to go in spite of his mother disagreeing.  Leaving Leena is the most difficult and both of them must now learn to navigate their respective worlds without each other.  Now Anil is trying to fit in and survive in a world very different than the one he left behind, one which doesn't always respect or accept where he comes from and whose temptations clash with the way he was raised.   And Leena, herself is trying to navigate those cultural expectations, ones that will change her life forever in ways she never imagined.  But as life would have it, they eventually meet up again, both changed people from their experiences.  

I loved this story.  It is told well and drew me in right from the beginning.  My heart was really drawn into the individual lives and struggles of both Anil and Leena, both from family and cultural expectations and for what they each faced as they navigated their respective worlds and the disappointments and life changing challenges it brought them.  When their lives intersected once again my emotions swung from one end to the other as years of family beliefs and misunderstandings and their consequences were slowly revealed.   It was  interesting to learn about the ancient "panchayat system" in India, a tradition of settling disputes within a community and the pressures that puts upon an individual person.  Though  I felt the ending wrapped up just a little too quickly with introduction of new characters without explanation of how they came into the story, I still gave this a top rating because of the emotional impact and sensitive story telling that drew me right in beginning to end.   If you like emotional stories that deal with family, friendship and other cultures I highly recommend with a trigger warning for an instance of abuse and an instance of violent racism.

I rated this 10/10
Read Your Shelf Challenge Goal Met:  a story set in a country other than your own.
Book Purchased in 2019 - 2021


Faith said...

I've seen this book in stores and wondered about it. I THINK i may have read one by this author but am not sure. The name is familiar to me anyways. This one sounds really good!! I have an Indian friend from church who is in my small group and I've learned alot about her culture as a Christian Indian and her arranged marriage! I also had a best friend growingup from ages 10-21 who was from India. I learned to eat curry as a 10 yr old in their home!

Deb said...

Looks like another good one, Susanne. I have loved many of the books you recommended.