Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Digging to America

TV reruns sure do help with my reading efforts. I've finished two books this week and feeling mighty proud of myself for accomplishing such a goal. The first book I read was Digging to America by Anne Tyler.

The basic premise of the story is that two families, whose paths would probably never have intersected, meet each other at the airport while they are awaiting the arrival of their newly adopted daughters being escorted in from Korea. As the one year anniversary of their arrival approaches, one of the families looks up the other family to invite them to a party they are having to celebrate this important anniversary. From here, the story continues to follow the lives of these two very different families as their friendship builds.

If you've read much of Anne Tyler's work, you are aware of her unique style of storytelling. She is known more for her character development than her plot. And, this book was really no different. The plot moved along while she created very real and vivid characters. I found some of her insights interesting as she examined certain cultural issues such as what does it really mean to be an American? If you are an immigrant, can you ever fully fit into the American culture? Do you even want to fit in? Since hubby is an immigrant, and my Things are first generation Americans (at least on the paternal side!), I found this aspect of the novel very interesting. I found myself nodding, and I even chuckled over a scene involving rice as I realized how right on target she was in describing certain cultural elements of one of the two families.

My only real concern was the slow pace in which she tells her story. I like a bit more plot. I'd also have liked to hear a bit more from the young girls themselves. Granted, initially they were babies, but as the story progressed, it would have been interesting to hear more of their characters voice.

I found the book to be a timely story...especially given the recent hot topic subject of immigration reform. And although she doesn't specifically address this issue, just reading about the immigrant experience had me mulling over my own opinions when it comes to the idea of Coming to America. I'd say look for this book in the library. It is a rather quick read and not something you would necessarily want for your home collection but it is a book you'll be glad that you read.

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