Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Golden Son - Shilpi Somaya Gowda

The Golden Son
Title: The Golden Son
Author: Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Publication Date: 10/20/15
Pages: 352
How I Found It: TLC Book Tours
Date Completed: 1/25/16

Summary: Anil leaves his home and family in India to pursue medical training in Texas. The shift of culture and the enduring weight of dual responsibilities create internal tension for him. Back home, Leena faces an arranged marriage and the realized fears that it may not turn out as she had dreamed. 

What I Thought: I loved the depiction of family in this novel. It is not portrayed as perfect or the ultimate happiness in life, but its value and impact is clear. Neither protagonist feels settle without the approval of or a strong connection to their family. Though the families can create tension or stressors, they are ultimately the support systems in times of heartache or decision making. 

Anil's uprooting to Dallas was an interesting story line. For a while, I did not think Gowda would keep him at the fictional Parkview hospital for his full three-year residency. Rather, this ended up being one of the main plotlines of the book. The tension Anil feels between his family responsibilities at home and his medical responsibilities at Parkview drive the story. I really liked how realistically Gowda portrayed this struggle. Neither option is vilified or glorified. Both have their pros and cons and the reader truly does not know where Anil will end up long term.  Gowda does a wonderful job portraying the temptations and internal battles of an immigrant who still feels allegiance to his upbringing but recognizing the benefits of life in a new country like America.

Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Leena's story centers around her disastrous arranged marriage and the cultural expectations which come with marriage and family in India. At moments, her story broke my heart. As many of you know if you're long-time readers, oppression and abuse of women, particularly when condoned culturally, is a hot button issue for me. Gowda, again, shows a balanced perspective. Her writing of Leena's story helped me to understand better why the cycle of violence and the oppression can be so hard to escape from at times. Cultural and familial ties are strong ones and not easily overturned, even in the face of something so evil. 

Interestingly, I read this at the same time I was reading Being Mortal, which is a nonfiction work about aging and death by an Indian doctor whose parents were immigrants to the US. Reading about family and the medical profession in both a fiction and nonfiction work simultaneously was thought-provoking. Each served to reinforce the other in neat ways. 

The story did not end how I expected at all and I loved it for that. Gowda was not about delivering into a specific genre. Instead, she wrote a story which rings true to real emotions and experiences. It's easy to imagine these scenarios playing out in the real world. Her writing style is lovely, eloquent but still easy to read. She invests in her characters' growth and development rather than relying on major plot twists to propel them along. The Golden Son is an emotional journey, one well worth taking in my opinion. 

*To read others' thoughts on The Golden Son, check out the full tour schedule.*
Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Perhaps

A Reduced Review: Becoming a modern adult often means shifting your personal identity away from familial or cultural expectations; Gowda captures that struggle beautifully. 

1 comment:

  1. Perfect timing, reading this and the non fiction book at the same time. I can see how that would make the reading experience a bit more compelling. Thanks for being a part of the tour!