Monday, July 03, 2006

Digging to America by Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler is one of my favorite writers. I enjoy the way she can tell stories about ordinary people and uncover the pieces of their lives that make them special and unique. It's the idea that everyone has a story and no one's life is as it seems from outside appearances.

This novel is about two very different families that adopt children from Korea. They meet at the airport on the day their babies arrive. Over time the two families become friends, realizing that they share something that not many others share.

I liked this book because it's about the idea of family, and mostly the idea of family being about the connections you make, and not necessarily the connects into which you are born. While initially this story is about adopting children, it expands into "adopting" brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and grandparents.

This book also is about struggling with ideas of perception, self-perception, as well as concerns about the way in which others view you. What am I supposed to be? Who do I want to be? I especially loved the character of MaryAnn -- the grandmother who moved to the U.S. from Iran as a young bride. She struggles with her ideas of how she should live. Her pride won't allow her to take steps to alleviate her loneliness because it would go against the image of herself that she is trying to preserve. Her ideas seem rooted in her culture, but upon reading it becomes apparant that most of these feelings transcend through cultures. In the end we're all much more alike than we realize.

This is a nice book that provides a glimpse of a world in which the idea of family does actually mean something more than unpleasant holidays and shouting matches.

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