Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Digging to America - Anne Tyler

I often think of Anne Tyler as mindless entertainment - she's an author I turn to when I want a good story, but don't necessarily want to think too hard when I'm reading it. To some extent, Digging to America fit the bill. This is the story of two families- The Dickinson-Donaldsons who are white American through and through, and the Yazdans, Iranian-Americans who while fairly assimilated still hang on to traditions from their old country. The families find themselves intertwined when their adopted daughters from Korea arrive in the United States on the same day. Initially, this is a story about how different families create homes for their new children. But, it is also the story of Maryam, the Iranian born grandmother of one of the girls, and Dave, the grandfather of the other. It is about how they find their places in their grandchildrens' lives, how they navigate getting older, and how they find ways to fit in while still retaining their individuality. In this way, I felt that Digging to America had so much more going on than just a "good story." Part-way through the book, Tyler's shifted from a focus on the little girls to the grandparents - and I wished there was a way to follow both stories throughout. She also changes the first-person narrative, and has a chapter or two from the perspective of one of the girls. At times it felt like she was trying to do too much - in others, I wish she had written an extra 200 pages so she could have accomplished it all in a more thorough fashion. But, as is, this book is a great entertaining story, as well as one that, I believe, would start a rich discussion in book clubs across the country.

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