Book review: The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

the-golden-son-pb-coverThe Golden Son

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 29, 2016)

The New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of Secret Daughter returns with an unforgettable story of family, responsibility, love, honor, tradition, and identity, in which two childhood friends—a young doctor and a newly married bride—must balance the expectations of their culture and their families with the desires of their own hearts.

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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Shilpi Somaya Gowda APAbout Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She holds an MBA from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar. She lives in California with her husband and children.

Find out more about Shilpi at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

REVIEW:

Most Indian parents dream that their child becomes a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer. Combine that with a marriage to a good family and their expectations are fulfilled.  In The Golden Son, Anil Patel’s father, as patriarch and arbitrator of the Patel family and village, decides that his son should be sent to America to study to be a doctor.  Anil has reached his potential in India and longs to study and work in an American hospital.

Upon his arrival in America, he quickly realizes that not everything is in black and white. He wants to adapt to the culture of his new country, but doesn’t want to give up the traditions of the old.  Anil is shocked by the prejudice shown toward Indian immigrants. He hopes to find respite back home but after having spent several years in the US, discovers that he somehow doesn’t quite fit in with the culture he once knew.

The author deftly weaves in different characters into Anil’s life.  These characters help shape Anil as he desperately tries to please his family in India as well as his hospital superiors.  To be honest, I much preferred reading more about these other characters than the main character because they were so beautifully brought to life.   I would love to see another novel that continues on with their lives.

There is plenty of intense drama in this story so be prepared to stay up late reading it.

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