A Place for Us

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The feedback on the article A Place for Us

Are you kidding me?

Unlike the rest of the world, including sweet Sarah Jessica Parker, I did not drool over this one, unless you count the drool that appeared when I dozed off in absolute boredom. I want my hours back! Yeah yeah yeah, I know. I should have ditched it. I guess I was just committed to torturing myself.

I was so looking forward to this one, rave reviews everywhere, oh I’m sure I’ll love it. The story sounded interesting: an Indian Muslim family living in America. My balloon was full of good air but when I started reading, the great deflate began.

I’m going right to my lists. I want to be nice and say there was a small Joy Jar, but honestly, it’s a stretch for me to appreciate much about this snooze. But I’ll try.

Joy Jar

-Well written.-Occasionally profound.-Some psychological insight and introspection. The reasons we do the things we do, the thoughts behind our actions.-Nuanced relationships.-Zeroes in on the little gestures and private things we do, some unconsciously. This was cool.-Big secrets, extensive guilt. This was interesting.-Ended my painful procrastination streak: I FINALLY found the time to fill my Amazon cart with must-haves (like food-safe mineral oil for my new cutting board). I looked for any excuse to get away from the book.

(I know, it’s cheating to put that snarky last item on the list, but I can’t help it.)

Complaint Board

-I want noise! The whole damn thing seemed coated in Valium: the tone, the plot, the characters. A three-in-one snooze-fest! The language was so flat I was jonesin’ for some jazz. It was a mumbly monotone, I was a squeaky scream—what a show. I did get used to the quiet language, but it took me about half the book. By that time I had found a bunch of other reasons to hate it. Damn, I should beware whenever reviews say the book is quiet. Nine times out of ten, the quiet will make me climb the walls.

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-Hand me the scissors. Is there an editor in the house? A big crime, since it led to prolonged torture, was that this book was WAY too long, like a hundred pages too long. Oh god, did I look at the bottom of the page! Have I really only read 7 percent of this book? Are you kidding me? Could my Kindle page-counter be malfunctioning??

-I’ve heard it all before (which sounds like a line in a croon-y country song). The characters are stereotypes: We have two good daughters, a black-sheep son, a kind mother, a nice dad with a slight temper. Everyone angsty. The plot was trite: Strict parents want their kids to follow traditions and the kids don’t want to; both parents and kids play the hide-important-things game; kids overachieve, underachieve, have forbidden crushes; blah blah blah. (I know, I know, if the story had been infused with juice, I probably wouldn’t be saying it was trite—it’s all in the telling.)

-No touchy-feely for me. I didn’t connect with the characters, partly because they were a bore and partly because they were too passive. It’s that Valium coating I was talking about. Of course, I always like the black sheep, but in this book he was MIA a lot. He was the focus, yes, but we didn’t get to see him or his point of view much.

-One daughter is one big blur. Totally in the background. Huh? Why didn’t she get developed? Just seems weird to have a family saga where one kid doesn’t have shape or voice.

-Okay, now talk to each other. Even in real life I like talkers, so it’s no surprise that a family of Quiet Ones would drive me nuts. I craved dialogue, interaction. The story is more about what doesn’t get said, and that’s all cool and nuanced. Still, I wanted more in-your-face drama.

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-I only see the smoothie. I wanted to see the ingredients hopping around in the blender; I wanted to see the conflict of cultures. Instead, the book is focused on the family and its traditions, not about the problems of assimilating into American culture and not about friendships with people outside their culture. For the most part, it seems like the kids have blended in pretty well. There is some reaction to 9/11, but not enough.

-Today is just a tease. All you want to talk about is yesterday! The book starts with a wedding, but we don’t get back to the wedding until more than half the book is over. At the 59% mark, to be exact. (Of course I know this, since I was constantly looking at the Percent Read info at the bottom of the page, lol.) I was reading about the past. And reading about the past. And reading about the past….okay, can’t we please please please go back to the present? Can we please go back to today? Can we see what happens at the wedding? Don’t leave me hanging for half the book! The past isn’t presented sequentially—it jumps around–and that didn’t bother me a bit. But I would have liked it if the present had come back into focus now and then, between the blasts of the past. I was impatient to find out what was happening in the here and now. I get that the author wanted to flesh out the characters so that when we returned to the present, the actions would be loaded, but my annoyance with the structure of the story was so stubborn, I couldn’t appreciate the author’s plan.

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-Religion collision. At first, there was a smattering of religion. I could handle that. I figured it was just there to convince us of how important religion was to the parents, which was reasonable. However, the entire last part of the book felt like a sermon. And as the end was approaching (oh baby let me be done with this book!), the pages became more and more full of religion. And here I was, hoping that we’d return to some drama. But oh no.

-Sorry, I don’t speak Urdu. Throughout the book, there are phrases in Urdu. This is a pet peeve of mine: I hate it when books include phrases in another language. I’m assuming the writer thinks it adds authenticity, but to me it just puts big blanks into the sentences. I don’t understand the words and phrases and I will never remember them, so what’s the point?

-Nit-picky editor at your service. Very occasionally, there was a point of view problem. And yes, occasionally the writer committed the sin of using “try and” instead of “try to.”

-Seriously? This is the ending? I can’t say what I wanted and expected to happen because I don’t want to give spoilers, but I can say that it was drama I was craving. Instead, the ending was mostly talk of religion and regrets.

I read a million 5-star reviews, many from friends, so I expected to love this book. Plus, I got sucked into the hype that Sarah Jessica Parker generated. (She has just launched a book publishing imprint and chose this as her first book.) I saw her with the author on a talk show. Parker was effusive. Man, what a salesperson! She convinced me that this book was the bending end—I was salivating to get my hands on it. But wait. Parker has always been an actress, not a book publisher. And why would I assume that she would like a book I would like? Geez.

The style of writing made me strangely uncomfortable, like it didn’t match me. It grated on my nerves instead of being soothing or wonderful. I never wanted to pick the book up.

But just about everyone in the universe loved this book, so don’t listen to me. I’m an alien.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. gracias amiga…te agradesco mucho tu comentario y te cuento que ya esta en proceso mi nuevo video para esta tan sentimental pelicula, que nos facino a ambos.


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