“Not only was it impossible to truly belong in America, but he didn’t fit in here anymore either. He was a dweller of two lands, accepted by none.”
The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda is a book peeking into the culture in India. It parallels two stories and how they are so intertwined. It shows Amil’s journey to America and Leena’s life in India, and how their past influences their present and future.
There are quite a few heart wrenching moments in the book, particularly with Leena’s journey. While I felt bad for her at times, I also felt incredibly proud of her. I also felt anger, frustration, sadness, et cetera while reading this book. Frankly, I think that is what this book does best: evoke emotion.
I cannot say for sure about the accuracy of the book’s portrayal of culture in India, but from what I know (limited) I think that it is. In addition, as horrible and confusing as it seems to me, there is a moment with Amil and friends in the book that I know likely happens more often than we would want in reality. I wish things like that would not happen at all, but there you go. I think this book could be a reminder of how we are all human beings and though our specific struggles might be different, there is nothing “wrong” about who we are. Well, there is something wrong with a few people in the book, but it has to do with their personality rather than how they look or their cultural beliefs.
I think Shilpi demonstrated relatively good storytelling abilities, though I found the later portions of the book a little rushed for my tastes. I wish certain things played out a bit slower than they did in the book. They would have had more of an impact that way, in my opinion. The other significant piece of criticism I have about the story is the ending. I found it a little tacked on, though this could be because of the presentation. I think the last piece of the book was supposed to be an epilogue, though the presentation was not making that clear to the reader. Had it been marked clearly, I think I would have swallowed the ending better than I did.
With that said, however, I am of two minds about the actual content of the ending. I think the ending for one of the two main characters (Amil and Leena) was appropriate, but then I also felt a bit disappointed with the ending for the other main character. But then again, not everything can be perfect? I may very well change my mind after I discuss this book with the book club I am a part of (which I will have done by the time I post this).
All in all, however, I would highly recommend reading The Golden Son. I am sure you will not be disappointed.
Before I finish this post, I would like to leave you with something to ponder. There is one major decision in this book that goes against the family’s culture. Arguably there is more than one thing that does this, but there is a significant one regarding Leena. My questions to you for after you finish reading the book are these: How would you have reacted if you were a parent in a similar situation? How would your parents react? Would you be able to go against your culture for your children’s sake? Let me know your answers in the comments!
Title: The Golden Son
Author: Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Publisher: HarperAvenue (HarperCollins)