The Groom to Have Been by Saher Alam
Back of the book:
Just as Nasr, a young man with a vibrant professional and social life in New York, begins to prepare for the arranged marriage he hopes will appease his Indian Muslim family and assure him a union as happy as his parents’, he starts to suspect that his true love has been within his reach his entire life. Nasr has known Jameela since they were children, and for nearly that long she has flouted the traditions her community holds dear. But now the rebellion that always made her seem dangerous suddenly makes him wonder if she might be his perfect match. Feeling increasingly trapped as his wedding date approaches, Nasr contemplates a drastic escape, but in the wake of 9/11, new fears and old prejudices threaten to stand between him and the promise of happiness. Current in its political themes and classic in its treatment of doomed love, The Groom to Have Been is a graceful and emotionally charged debut.
I loved this book. It was hard to put down and unpredictable to the last page. The characters were incredibly well-rounded, the imagery fantastic, and important observations on race, religion and tradition were woven into the fabric of the plot seamlessly. This would make an excellent book club selection for the discussion it would surely encourage.
Victoria Torres is an Argentine American woman who still lives at home. A slightly over-weight college drop out, Victoria works at her father’s restaurant – a gathering place for the Argentine community in Burbank, California. Lacking direction in life and self esteem, she’s shocked when a fellow Argentine American boy she grew up with comes back to town and takes an interest in her. Eric is handsome, successful and they share a common history, but what is he doing back in town, will he stay, and what does he see in Victoria that she can’t see in herself?
Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante brings something unique to a genre saturated with stories of Mexicans and Cubans, (not that I don’t enjoy those stories as well!) The first few chapters were a little slow going, but it soon becomes an unpredictable page turner as one becomes emotionally invested in Victoria and Eric’s turbulent but passionate courtship. (Some scenes are borderline Romance novel material but she pulls it off leaving the reader wanting more.)
The story of Victoria and Eric’s budding romance is contrasted by the crumbling marriage of Victoria’s parents, Victor and Jacqueline. Amante is successful at weaving the two together and demonstrates a superb ability of being able to get into each character’s heart and show us what they’re feeling – from a stubborn, overly macho father and husband, to his lonely heart-broken wife who struggles with his infidelities, empty nest syndrome, and her stifled dreams.
I found myself identifying equally with young, insecure Victoria as she falls in love as well as her wise mother Jacqueline who mourns her grown children and is frequently a victim of nostalgia and loneliness. Emotions are so well described in this book that I will admit to shedding a few tears.
This is a really beautiful story that touches on many common themes such as sacrifice, marriage, love, confidence, family, and independence. But what I found most interesting in Evenings at the Argentine Club were the more unique thoughts on how different people define success, and how immigrant families with American-born children can achieve the American Dream while still remembering who they are.
Non-Spanish speakers will appreciate that Amante uses Spanish words judiciously throughout and always in a context that is easily understood, making Evenings at the Argentine Club accessible to everyone.
Filed under books, career, change, chick lit, culture, depression, dreams, family, marriage, men, opinion, romance, self esteem, Spanish, women, work
A Change in Altitude, by popular author, Anita Shreve was both depressing and captivating. It was one of those rare novels where I truly could not even guess at what might happen next. Each turn in the plot seemed to be randomly pulled from a hat, yet it all came together in the end, for better or worse.
The story is told in third person but is sympathetic to the perspective of an American woman named Margaret. She and her husband, Patrick, are newlyweds living in Kenya.
When they go with two other couples on a climbing expedition, a tragic accident on the mountain will change Margaret and her marriage forever.
I appreciated the cultural details, the diverse cast of characters, the deep emotions, the obvious knowledge of the complexities of marriage and the unpredictable plot, but I had difficulty relating to or caring very much for the Anglo characters. (The non-Anglo characters were much more interesting.)
Over all, if you enjoy Anita Shreve you will probably enjoy this book. Just be forewarned that it isn’t exactly a happily-ever-after type of story.
I just finished crying after having come to the end of Belinda Acosta’s surprisingly touching chick lit novel, Damas, Dramas and Ana Ruiz.
When I first picked up this book, I assumed the story would be from the perspective of the girl, and that her name was Ana Ruiz, but Ana Ruiz is the mother and she is going through much more than just organizing a quinceañera for her ungrateful daughter, Carmen.
Ana’s twenty year marriage to Esteban is falling apart, and Carmen who is a “Daddy’s girl”, wrongfully blames Ana for kicking him out, (not knowing what her father has done.)
Ana decides to throw her daughter a quinceañera as a way of bonding with her, but Carmen is disrespectful and unappreciative from the get go.
Aside from her exploding home life, she also has new pressures at work. The university she works for has hired a new world famous artist and part of Ana’s job is to try to woo him into a permanent teaching position. The trouble is that the very handsome and charming artist is trying to woo Ana into a relationship.
Belinda Acosta’s writing style will make any Spanish-English bilingual smile with pleasure as she unapologetically sprinkles Spanish words and phrases into the text, even outside of dialogue. It is the way many Latinos living in the United States speak and think, so it’s refreshing to see it in print.
I did not expect to be as moved as I was by the relationships between the characters. Acosta makes you really care about this little family, and you can’t help but identify with Ana’s struggles as a wife, mother, and as a woman.
***THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED***WINNER SELECTED***THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED***
Alright everyone, thanks for entering. I inputted all the names into the List Randomizer at Random.org, and the name that came out on top was…
Congrats, Anita and thanks to all who entered. Check back often for future giveaways!
I am giving away a copy of The Divorce Party by Laura Dave! … I’m in the middle of my own copy right now and it’s really good. (And not to judge a book by its cover, but how adorable is the cover art? Love it!)
Gwyn Huntington knows how to throw a party. And Hunt Hall, her postcard-perfect Victorian home in Montauk at the easternmost tip of Long Island, is no stranger to celebrations. But on the morning of her thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, she’s putting finishing touches on the last party she’ll host there. The last time she’ll see Hunt Hall abuzz with caterers and bartenders. The last time she’ll preside over a gathering of beautiful friends chatting in candlelight. The last time she’ll fully play the role of Mrs. Thomas Huntington. Divorce parties have become commonplace, if not fashionable, in Montauk. But Gwyn is determined that hers will be different.
Just over one hundred miles away on the same morning, Maggie Mackenzie sits on the floor of her Brooklyn apartment attempting to organize her new life. A former travel writer, she’s fallen in love with a wonderful man, gotten engaged, and is planning to start a business with him. Today is also the day she’ll meet her fiancé’s parents for the first time. She’s feeling particularly uneasy about the occasion surrounding her first meeting with Nate’s family.
The Divorce Party takes us into the lives of these two women at opposite ends of marriage. For all the differences between them — distance, privilege, age — Gwyn and Maggie have one thing in common: Each has found herself at a crossroads. Gwyn has been preparing for this day, the last predictable day before an uncertain future. Even though she’s had time to come to terms with her divorce, she still can’t quite believe her marriage is over. How can she move on when her marriage has defined who she is for the last thirty-five years? And for Maggie, the emotionally charged trip to Montauk shakes the foundation of her relationship with Nate and dredges up feelings she has spent her life trying to avoid.
In the end, Gwyn and Maggie face the same questions: How hard should you work to stay with the person you love? And when is it time to let go?
For a chance to win, simply comment on this blog post and make sure you provide a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted if you win.
A winner will be chosen at random and announced here on August 1st, 2009.
In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing is a touching and inspirational story written by Bob Woodruff, the ABC News Anchor, and his wife Lee.
Like many American families, the Woodruff family seemed to have it all. Healthy children, great careers, and a happy marriage. The day Bob embedded with the military in Iraq, their lives changed forever.
An IED went off near the tank that he was traveling in, and he and his cameraman were badly injured. Bob suffered a traumatic brain injury that nearly killed him.
The book takes us through the stories of what life was like before the accident, as well as the heart wrenching events that followed, from both Bob and Lee’s unique points of view. There is not one emotion, from bliss, hope and happiness to fear, guilt, and heartache that is left unexamined in this memoir that will be sure to give you renewed perspective and appreciation for your loved ones, your health, your everyday blessings and your life in general.
A percentage of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury.
A Man Worth Waiting For: How to Avoid a Bozo by Jackie Kendall is an excellent book on dating for women. The book is Christian based and starts out by describing the type of man a woman should look for. That type of man is represented by Boaz, from the Bible. Verses from the book of Ruth are used to demonstrate how Boaz is a great example of the type of man one would want to marry. (As opposed to the type of man one wouldn’t want to marry, which are also thoroughly described and called “Bozos”.)
In addition to what a woman should look for and avoid, the book also gives women sound advice about what they need to do to be the type of woman who deserves a Boaz. (Which I think is an important consideration often overlooked by many single women. It takes two!)
I passed this book onto my younger (single) sister. Hopefully in the next year or two, I’ll be able to tell everyone that this book helped her out!