Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi

Format: Paperback
Pages: 229 pages

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb (from Goodreads):

"From the acclaimed author of A Breath of Fresh Air, this beautiful novel takes us to modern India during the height of the summer’s mango season. Heat, passion, and controversy explode as a woman is forced to decide between romance and tradition.

Every young Indian leaving the homeland for the United States is given the following orders by their parents: Don’t eat any cow (It’s still sacred!), don’t go out too much, save (and save, and save) your money, and most important, do not marry a foreigner. Priya Rao left India when she was twenty to study in the U.S., and she’s never been back. Now, seven years later, she’s out of excuses. She has to return and give her family the news: She’s engaged to Nick Collins, a kind, loving American man. It’s going to break their hearts.

Returning to India is an overwhelming experience for Priya. When she was growing up, summer was all about mangoes—ripe, sweet mangoes, bursting with juices that dripped down your chin, hands, and neck. But after years away, she sweats as if she’s never been through an Indian summer before. Everything looks dirtier than she remembered. And things that used to seem natural (a buffalo strolling down a newly laid asphalt road, for example) now feel totally chaotic.

But Priya’s relatives remain the same. Her mother and father insist that it’s time they arranged her marriage to a “nice Indian boy.” Her extended family talks of nothing but marriage—particularly the marriage of her uncle Anand, which still has them reeling. Not only did Anand marry a woman from another Indian state, but he also married for love. Happiness and love are not the point of her grandparents’ or her parents’ union. In her family’s rule book, duty is at the top of the list.

Just as Priya begins to feel she can’t possibly tell her family that she’s engaged to an American, a secret is revealed that leaves her stunned and off-balance. Now she is forced to choose between the love of her family and Nick, the love of her life.

As sharp and intoxicating as sugarcane juice bought fresh from a market cart, The Mango Season is a delightful trip into the heart and soul of both contemporary India and a woman on the edge of a profound life change."
My Thoughts:

Set in India. An American-returned Indian young lady who's come to tell her family about her American fiance. Really loved it! The ending packed quite a punch. Definitely worth a read...

A more detailed review:

This is the story of Priya Rao, a young woman who had left India at the age of twenty to study in America. Seven years later, she returns for a visit to discover that her parents are intent on arranging her marriage to a suitable Indian boy. Not just any Indian boy, but a Telegu-speaking Brahmin. She has arrived home in time for the harvesting of mangoes- the hottest time of the year, with days filled with ritual and ceremony.

As a child, she had loved this season best but, after years away, Priya finds the heat of an Indian summer unbearable and everything about India seems different- dirtier and more chaotic than she remembers. Her extended family are also consumed by talk of marriage- particularly the marriage of her uncle Anand, and his decision not only to marry for love but to marry a woman of a much lower caste. Priya can only guess at what reaction her own engagement would provoke if she were to reveal that she has left behind a fiancé in America; a fiancé of an entirely different race and religion...

This book was highly entertaining and provided a humorous outlook on Indian traditions, especially the bride-seeing ceremony. It is well-written and enjoyable, with popular Indian recipes included throughout. It is certainly worth reading.


Post a Comment