Amina Mazid is twenty-four when she moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, New York, for love. A hundred years ago, Amina would have been called a mail-order bride. But this is the twenty-first century: she is wooed by—and woos—George Stillman online.
For Amina, George offers a chance for a new life for her and her parents, as well as a different kind of happiness than she might find back home. For George, Amina is a woman who doesn't play games. But each of them is hiding something: someone from the past they thought they could leave behind. It is only when Amina returns to Bangladesh that she and George find out if their secrets will tear them apart, or if they can build a future together.
Freudenberger's delicately observed second novel is another account of cross-cultural confusion in the tale of a Bangladeshi woman, 24-year-old Amina Mazid, who becomes the e-mail order bride of 34-year-old George Stillman, an electrical engineer in Rochester, N.Y. Arriving in snowy Rochester in 2005 is a culture shock for Amina, but within three years she has her green card, is married to George, and is taking college courses when not pulling espresso at Starbucks. Her marriage, though, has its problems. Sex is awkward, George loses his job, and Amina discovers something that makes her doubt his sincerity. She eventually returns to Bangladesh to bring her parents to the U.S., but a problem with her father's visa keeps Amina there and forces her back into the morass of her extended family's resentments and petty jealousies, all of which she'd hoped to escape in marriage. Add to her troubles an old suitor, Nasir, waiting not so patiently in the wings. Freudenberger (The Dissident) does an excellent job of portraying the plight of a young Muslim woman not totally comfortable in either of the worlds she inhabits. But Amina's passivity may frustrate many readers, and George is a complete cipher. In the end, Freudenberg's anatomy of a modern arranged marriage is somewhat too dependent on cultural clich s to entirely satisfy.
I truly enjoyed this book. I was captivated by the main character. She was so independent yet childlike. She was modern yet traditional. I wish the author would have explored the Nasir relationship a little more. Couldn't help but feel a little sad for her when she left Bangladesh with her parents. How painful to leave a person you love so much. Maybe the next book can revisit this relationship. NF did a good job of keeping me entertained. Just when it was a little subdued, another exciting moment crept in. Having left my country as a young person, I could relate to many of her "situations". Great read!!!
I don't think I would classify this as one of the great romance novels, but it was a good story of family loyalty and certainly an interesting look at adjustment in a new country...probably harder than most of us can even imagine. I enjoyed the book and learned a little along the way. A bit repetitive and drawn out in parts, but worth the time.
A wonderful love story
I decided to write a paper on this book. I'm going to compare it to the great romance classics such as Pride and Prejudice. I feel like this holds up nicely to those great books as far as meeting all the elements that would make something a romance novel. In a way this seems like the author wrote a HEA for both the American Amina and the Bangla Munni. Both sides of her seem some kind of resolution, and that made a very well-rounded story.
The only reason why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I thought the prose could be tightened up just a little. Certain pieces of the novel weren't 100% necessary to me. The essay contest being one. The scene with Motka's mother being the other.