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The first of his family to go to college, Anil Patel, the golden son, carries the weight of tradition and his family's expectations when he leaves his tiny Indian village to begin a medical residency in Dallas, Texas, at one of the busiest and most competitive hospitals in America. When his father dies, Anil becomes the de facto head of the Patel household and inherits the mantle of arbiter for all of the village's disputes. But he is uneasy with the custom, uncertain that he has the wisdom and courage demonstrated by his father and grandfather. His doubts are compounded by the difficulties he discovers in adjusting to a new culture and a new job - challenges that will shake his confidence in himself and his abilities.
Back home in India, Anil's closest childhood friend, Leena, struggles to adapt to her demanding new husband and relatives. Arranged by her parents, the marriage shatters Leena's romantic hopes and eventually forces her to make a desperate choice that will hold drastic repercussions for herself and her family. Though Anil and Leena struggle to come to terms with their identities thousands of miles apart, their lives eventually intersect once more - changing them both and the people they love forever.
Tender and bittersweet, The Golden Son illuminates the ambivalence of people caught between past and present, tradition and modernity, duty and choice; the push and pull of living in two cultures; and the painful decisions we must make to find our true selves.
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By Gillian on 01-28-16
4-Stars, But I'm Rounding Up...
I liked this book,liked it enough to listen to it 'cover-to-cover,' hence, the 4-stars. It has great characters, Gowda threw conflict after conflict in every chapter to keep you listening, and there was a neat sorta quirkiness and humor in it that added to its humanity.
Still, there was a certain intensity that was lacking that really only turned up in Leena, and quite honestly, only turned up toward the end. The characters, though given much to strive toward (Gowda is an expert plotter), don't have much passion, neither do they have many flaws. There are a few times when things turn dour for Anil, and he berates himself as he's "f*'d up," but I had to go back and re-listen to what happened only to wonder, "Really? Where? What?" It seems that the author wanted his characters to be likable so much so that he really didn't allow them to be human.
And there's this one other glitch, and I mention it only because it was an obvious turning point, that was an unevenly written bit of racially motivated violence that comes off as a total device of convenience that leaves the reader wondering: Now? But they've been together 14 months, and it's happening now?!?
Okay, I'll shut up. Off to the good things; The characters ARE likable, I love the way their formative experiences and relationships are written as children. The descriptive settings are great. There is no disorienting sense of ping-ponging between Anil and Leena's stories, though you are breathless to get back to each of them (like I said, conflict in each and every chapter). What I really appreciated was that there were no stereotypical, "Duh, fish outta water here," events for Anil in America when such a foreign culture could've provided the author with easy ways out.
There's really not much arbitration, but where there is, is greatly, greatly amusing. And the ending? Not what I hoped for, but what I loved and respect. What more can you ask of a writer?
This is a good book that could've used some editing, with some FANTASTIC narration (started off jarring, but OMG it kicked in!), that I think is well worth it. Maybe not cover-to-cover, I coulda had a nap in there, but worth the time :)
8 of 10 people found this review helpful