Book Review: The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

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From Goodreads:

In The Newlyweds, we follow the story of Amina Mazid, who at age twenty-four 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 an arranged marriage for the twenty-first century: Amina is wooed by—and woos—George Stillman online.

For Amina, George offers a chance for a new life and 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 they put an ocean between them—and 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.

This book had such an interesting premise. What appealed to me was that the story was told from Amina’s point of view, one that is new to America and the whole experience of being somewhere new and foreign. Reading about the American experience through the eyes of a Bangladesh women was humbling to be sure. We just don’t appreciate all that we have. We take basic things like running water and constant electricity for granted. Even the weather was totally new to her, having never experiencing freezing temperatures and snow. – I complain when it’s too hot or too cold but I couldn’t be without my four seasons! 🙂 – The author does a great job giving us a personal glimpse of the bravery that Amina needed to make this huge leap of faith.

The book excels at creating a world of discovery for Amina in this new country but falls short on the adventure and discovery that is marriage. George, Amina’s american husband, seems dull and boring. I didn’t get a clear picture of who he really was and why he turned to a marriage of this sort. Often manipulative, Amina uses the means she has at hand to get her way. While the story line seems to want to justify her actions, without the other side of the story, I couldn’t really form an opinion one way or the other which made it hard to relate.

Much of the book revolves around Amina’s quest to reunite with her parents and bring them to the US. The author also adds a story line relating to a cousin of George who befriends Amina. Way too much time is devoted to this character. It irritatingly had no real effect on the story and made it seem like the author was just trying to fill the pages.

This book would have been more enjoyable if the story would have stayed centered on George and Amina and how they bridged the gap between their two cultures. Getting George’s point of view would have added much more depth to the story.

You can view links to interviews and articles relating to this book on my “New to the To-Do” post earlier this year.

View this book on Goodreads.
View this book on Amazon.

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