Friday, May 9, 2008

The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan

My great-aunt, widowed at fourteen, was a manglik. Three months after marriage, her husband was hit by a double-decker bus. He died instantly at the age of twenty-one. As custom dictated, she never again wore jewelry, or a tip (bindi) on her forehead, or sindoor in the part of her hair - all symbols of a married woman. Nor did she remarry, as widow remarriage was - still is, but to a much lesser extent - considered shameful in traditional Hindu culture. ~ The Hindi-Bindi Club, page 223 ~

For decades they have remained close, sharing treasured recipes, honored customs, and the challenges of women shaped by ancient ways yet living modern lives. They are the Hindi-Bindi Club, a nickname given by their American daughters to the mothers who left India to start anew - daughters now grown and facing struggles of their own.

For Kiran, Preity, and Rani, adulthood bears the indelible stamp of their upbringing, from the ways they tweak their mothers' cooking to suit their Western lifestyles to the ways they reject their mothers' most fervent beliefs. Now, bearing the disappointments and successes of their chosen paths, these daughters are drawn inexorable home.

I loved this book. It's one of my top choices so far in '08. It's witty, humorous, insightful, real. It's more than chick lit, more than mother-daughter relationships. It's about honoring family and tradition. The struggles and triumphs of blending two cultures vastly different from one another - Eastern beliefs with Western attitudes. Because the author was raised in a household very much like those of her characters this book is authentic. She knows of what she writes. She brings her characters to life and makes us care bout them. She involves us in their lives. I actually wanted to know these people, be a part of their world. I'd like to visit more with them. I want to know how their stories play out.

Just because people don't love you the way you want, doesn't mean they don't love you the best they can. ~ The Hindi-Bindi Club, page 19 ~


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