Saturday, September 5, 2009

Digging to America (Anne Tyler)

I'm ashamed to admit this is the first Anne Tyler I've read. So I'm not sure if I don't love Anne Tyler or I just didn't love this book. Right now, for me, they are one in the same, but I've heard such good things about the author in the past that it's hard to believe.

Anyway, the idea of the book. Two couples, one quintisentially American and one not, who have a chance meeting in an airport while both are waiting for their daughters - adoptive placements from Korea. I was so excited to read a good novel about adoption and this one just left me flat.

For one thing, though I thought the girl, and their entry into their respective families would be the axis on which the story turned, I was mistaken. Turns out they are mostly window dressing. Adorable window dressing, but mostly just props.

I think the novel is supposed to be about what it means to be (or become) an American. But I didn't see much more than stereotypes of both Americans and immigrants. That, combined with the stilted dialogue, when characters actually gave voice to some key aspects of the plot, were annoying for me.

Clearly, Tyler can write a character though. I did feel like I knew all of them. I think I would have liked the book better if we didn't get the weird love story detour with Maryam, and rather learned more about an immigrant's experience, or more about the idea of adopting a child from another culture - beyond Susan's family mostly ignoring it and Jin-Ho's family putting it on a pedastol.

Overall, B-

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