Monday, July 2, 2012

And Laughter Fell from the Sky by Jyotsna Sreenivasan (TLC Book Tour)

And Laughter Fell from the Sky by Jyotsna Sreenivasan
William Morrow
ISBN: 978-0062105769
Published June 19, 2012
Trade paperback, 336 pages

I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked reading about the dilemma that two young Indian-Americans, Rasika and Abhay, faced when dealing with their culture's traditions and pressures, but I disliked Rasika's character and was frustrated throughout my reading of this novel. Rasika is a twenty-five year-old beautiful woman, living at home in a wealthy family. She comes across as vain, spoiled and aloof. Abhay is a smart young man who doesn't know what he wants to do with his life, much to the disappointment of his father. Although he has nothing in common with Rasika, who thinks he is not good enough for her, he falls in love with her and pursues her even as she agrees to an arranged marriage with a suitor chosen by her parents.

It quickly becomes clear that Rasika doesn't know how to deal with the pressure of an arranged marriage. The only reason she agrees to it is because she will have the ideal husband—handsome, well-educated, and doting. She thinks she has good values because she has grace, dresses well and is beautiful. However, she is promiscuous and has short-lived relationships with men to get away from the pressures of her parents. This is what she does with Abhay too. She sleeps with him and then wants nothing to do with him because she doesn't want her parents to find out about her double life, and besides, he is from a different caste and therefore would never be accepted by her parents as an acceptable husband.

Abhay, on the other hand, understands why Rasika acts the way she does, why she is so messed up, and even though he knows she only used him for sex, he still wants her. I kept wondering what would make these two get together in the end, if at all, since they were so different and it would take a big change in Rasika's way of thinking to even accept Abhay as an acceptable mate by her standards. The ending, although a happy one, was disappointing to me as a reader because the author took the easy way out where Rasika did not have to deal with her problem. Instead, a situation took care of that and the ending was too neatly tied up with a big red bow.

There was no resolution for me, just a quick-fix ending. The only reason that kept me reading this book was the psychological aspect of how children from two cultures deal with being from two different worlds. Okay,  Rasika's coping mechanism is destroying her, so how does she finally confront the cause of her dilemma? How does she change? How does she grow as a person? Would she resort to the same tactics when things would get difficult in the future? None of this is clear by the end of the book.

So although I enjoyed the setting and the Indian culture, I had mixed feelings when reading this book, especially at the end when things became convenient for everyone. And I'm still trying to figure out the book's title, if that expression is significant in the Indian culture.

Note: This book is rated S = sex scenes. There are sex scenes in this novel, however, not at all explicit.
You can read more reviews on the TLC Book Tour page.
I will count this book toward the following challenges: Reading the World Challenge

About the author:
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Jyotsna Sreenivasan was born and raised in Ohio. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines and she has received literature grants from the Washington, D.C., Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The author of several nonfiction books published by academic presses and the creator of the online Gender Equality Bookstore, she lives in Moscow, Idaho, with her family. This is her first novel.

Connect with the author here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jyotsna will discuss And Laughter Fell From the Sky on Book Club Girl on Air on Wednesday, July 18th at 7 pm ET.

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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