Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Amina, a 24-year-old Bangladeshi woman begins an online relationship with George, an engineer who lives in Rochester, New York. They decide to marry and Amina, with full family support, moves to the USA, land of milk and honey. Her parents plan to follow as soon as they can get visas.
Amina and George have a relationship that lacks passion. She works at minimum wage jobs and attends school. She makes no friends except for George's cousin Kim, a yoga instructor, who once lived in India and has a complicated relationship with her extended family. Amina discovers that George and Kim were once romantically involved.
Time passes and eventually it is time for Amina's parents to join her in Rochester. The timing is bad; George has just lost his job. Nonetheless Amina departs to Bangladesh to bring her parents back. Until this point the novel moves quietly but once Amina arrives in Bangladesh it comes to life and we realize how broad the cultural divide is and that Amina's family history is very complicated.
The story of Amina and George is simply told. They face the adjustments all newlyweds must deal with but they don't know each other at all and there are daunting cultural differences. Can their marriage survive? It must because Amina has promised her parents that she would provide a better life for them in America.
Freudenberger explores with compassion the complex tug of war between family obligations and individual desires.