Book: The Hindi-Bindi Club

The book: The Hindi-Bindi Club, by Monica Pradhan

The edition: Italian translation by Marina Nocilli, as published by Newton Compton, paperback, 426 pages (with recipes!)

The story: of Indian women immigrated to the US, of their daughters, and of the clash between the two generations (or: see the official synopsis)

My experience with the book & my thoughts: this is one more case of misplaced expectations. I expected a novel about the immigration experience and how it is seen differently from 1st and 2nd generation immigrants. I expected something like a women version of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. Instead, it’s little more than a chick-lit with some Indian spices. I’m not saying that it is bad, actually I enjoyed it for what it is, but I was expecting more. That said (and not being a regular reader of chick-lit, which is “beach books” to me), it’s a nice story, touching (although very lightly) on a number of issues — not only self-evident ones like the clash of cultures, and family, but also things like growing old, malady, the difference between what we are and the way people see us. I even grew attached to some of the characters… All in all it was a fun ride!

What I liked: recipes! And a narrative with many different points of view. Also, I loved the dedication!

What I didn’t like: characters that change abruptly for no reason whatsoever and a “happy ending” that readers can guess as soon as they meet a certain character for the first time.

Language & translation: as I wrote above, I was expecting one kind of book. Luckily I realized quite soon that I was in for a chick-lit, and that was thanks to some turns of phrase. Such as this:

To the west, the cherry lollipop of the setting sun glows between the pine trees.

I’ll admit that I couldn’t restrain myself from calling my husband in order to laugh together at this sentence. *shame*. But it helped put the whole book in perspective, so that I enjoyed it for what it was.
Also, what is it with Italian publishers and nonsensical titles?

Random thought: I wish I could start learning a new language.

Read this if: if you liked Monsoon Wedding, it has the same feeling.

Book: What to Expect When You’re Expecting

The book: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel

The edition: new and revised (4th) edition, Italian version by Sonia Sferzi, 575 pages

About the book: a step-by-step (or week-by-week) guide to pregnancy

My experience with the book & my thoughts: to start with, I need to say that I am not pregnant, so my evaluation of this book may be a little biased. I wanted to know more about pregnancy, and after a long search this was the only book I found that explained things throughly, didn’t make fun of them, and most of all didn’t treat the reader like a woman with attention-deficits who needs lots of pictures and bullet-lists and asides to go through a book.
I found it to be informative and encouraging, if nor exhaustive. I’d have appreciated more information on pre-natal exams, but I’ve seen that other people would have appreciated less information on some aspects, and I do see that, to a pregnant woman, some parts can be unnecessarily scary. I appreciated less the “All About” section at the end of each month-related chapter, because some of that information was not necessarily related to the month it was put in.

What I liked: detailed information.

What I didn’t like: I know it is a guide and that in all guidebooks there may be repetitions, because some readers may only go through a few sections; still those repetitions had me roll my eyes every time (OK, I know that smoke and alcohol are bad for the baby! Again? I know already!).

Language & translation: the major problem I had with this book, was never knowing how much had only been translated (i.e. still described the situation in the USA) and how much had been localized (and described what I may encounter in Italy).

In the author’s own words: nothing to report, really.

Links to better understand this book: oww, I don’t think you need them, it’s a guide! 🙂

Random thought: wow, there’s a whole series of WTE books!

Read this if: it is a good guide, but I am glad I read it before ever getting pregnant, because I don’t think I would have made it through during pregnancy, it’s quite the tome!

Counts as: One Two Theme Challenge – Pregnancy book #4

Book: Learning to Fly


The book: Learning to Fly, by Roxanne Henke

The edition: Harvest House paperback, 354 pages, plus reading guide

The story: following the relationship between Susan and her daughter Lily from the moment of birth through to first year in college. Susan is filled with doubts and never really feels at ease with motherhood; but her trials and successes are confronted with those, very different, her friend JoJo goes through with her daughter Tiffany, who has her own set of difficulties with the mother-daughter relationship.

My experience with the book & my thoughts: this book delivers exactly what it promises: a nice, compelling story about motherhood. It may be a little too much in the way of giving one good and one bad example, a dualist black-and-white world where either you are the perfect couple or your children are inevitably spoiled brats; and the bad example turns a little extreme at times. But still, I could understand Susan reactions and enjoy her story. There’s a lot of food for thought here.
Side note: this is a Christian fiction novel, but it didn’t bother me much, it was done in a way I can appreciate.

The part with spoilers: the problem for me was that it never really went into the reasons why. Why would Tiffany and Lily turn out so opposite? Different upbringing, right, but while I could see JoJo’s mistakes, and her husband’s absence, they were just too plain, and there was no explanation of why JoJo would handle her children the way she did (except for having more than one, that is). When JoJo and Tiffany go to Susan’s house for the first time, it looks like she will change things, teach JoJo a thing or two… but she only ends up saying something when the girls are in their teens, way too late. So what was the supposed friendship between the two women about?

What I liked: a good description of the different feelings of motherhood.

What I didn’t like: too much focus on the mother-daughter relationship alone, to the point of effacing everyone else. Grandparents only appear at first birthday and Thanksgivings; even fathers are only dwelt upon when they need to discipline children, while for most of the book it looks like these two women are in parenthood alone.

Language & writing: I may be picky, but it sounded like the author was a driving instructor in a previous life (I’m joking here!), with all the step by step description of how everyone drove.

In the author’s own words: I loved this description of motherhood:

Nothing had felt this… this… important.
All the kidding around we’d done about becoming parents seemed like immature babbling as I looked down at this child we’d somehow created.
I created.
Oh, yes, there was no doubt in my mind God had everything to do with this. There was no way Seth or I could have ever done something so remarkable on our own.

And just to show you what I meant, here’s the driving-instructor speaking through the author 🙂 (just to be clear: this is all in the same scene, almost all on the same page):

I shifted in my seat, cast a glance into the backseat to make sure Lily was okay, then took a deep, deep breath. At least I could still breathe. I put the car into reverse and backed out of the mall parking spot. […] I shifted into drive and slowly pressed my foot on the gas pedal. […] I pushed on my turn signal and headed out of the parking lot. […] I pressed my foot a little harder on the pedal

Random thought and question: one thing sounded strange to me: that the moment the children enter college is felt as a termination of motherhood. As if one was supposed to be a mother from birth to the moment they leave home for college (or for something else, but at the same age anyway). In my feeling, the parting is much less defined, and it needn’t be at that age, it could be well before and well after. Is that the way motherhood is seen in the USA?

Read this if: if you are looking for a book about motherhood, this is a nice one.

Counts as: One! Two! Theme! Challenge – Pregnancy and Motherhood #3; What’s in a Name Challenge – movement