Reviews for Newlyweds
Booklist Reviews 2012 May #1
*Starred Review* Amina of Dhaka, Bangladesh, meets George of Rochester, New York, on AsiaEuro.com and comes to America to wed. She is smart and disciplined at 24. He is 10 years older, a well-employed loner set in his ways. Her English is excellent, though she claims to find sarcasm difficult to catch even as she slyly employs it. Yes, Amina is a marvelously wily narrator, and Freudenberger (Lucky Girls, 2003; The Dissident, 2006) greatly advances her standing as a writer skilled in understatement and deadpan wit as she continues her signature exploration of the dynamics between Americans and Southeast Asians in this exceptionally intimate, vivid, and suspenseful novel. Methodical and stoic Amina calculates to the day and dollar how long it will take her to become a citizen and save up enough money to bring her parents over, patiently dealing with prejudice, loneliness, and George's limitations until she detects the corrosiveness of secrets and lies. Still, she returns to Bangladesh to collect her parents as planned, only to find that her feckless father is in serious trouble and that her first love is even more compelling than she remembered. This classic tale of missed chances, crushing errors of judgment, and scarring sacrifices, all compounded by cultural differences, is perfectly pitched, piercingly funny, and exquisitely heartbreaking. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 April #2
Freudenberger (The Dissident, 2006, etc.) examines a marriage arranged via the Internet. They met on AsianEuro.com: Amina wanted to escape from her family's straitened circumstances in Bangladesh; George wanted someone who "did not play games, unlike some women he knew." So here she is, in the fall of 2005 in the suburbs of Rochester, N.Y., recently married, working in retail while she studies for a teaching certificate. Her husband seems nice, if a little fussy, but he hasn't said any more about converting to Islam as she promised her parents, and they haven't had a Muslim wedding yet either. More disconcerting than any of that, though, is Amina's sense that "she was a different person in Bangla than she was in English," and she's uncertain how to bridge the gulf between these two selves. She makes a much-needed friend in George's cousin Kim, who lived for a while in Bombay and was briefly married to an Indian. Kim understands more about Amina's background and her conflicts than anyone else in Rochester, so when it turns out that she and George have been hiding something important from Amina, it's doubly shattering. However, it does prompt George to agree to bring Amina's parents to America, and she goes to collect them in Bangladesh, where several old family conflicts flare anew. Freudenberger does well in capturing the off-kilter feelings of a young woman in a country so unlike her birthplace, and the cultural differences prompt some enjoyably wry humor. The characters are all well drawn, if a trifle pallid, which points to a larger problem. Freudenberger's tone is detached and cool throughout, even when violent incidents are described, which makes it difficult to emotionally engage with the story. The novel is carefully researched rather than emotionally persuasive. Well executed but a bit too obviously studied--more willed than felt. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2012 April #2
Amina grew up in Bangladesh, and her family always dreamed of sending her to the United States. She gets her chance when she meets George, an engineer in Rochester, NY, on an online dating site. As Amina adjusts to married life with the kind but somewhat rigid George, she slowly assimilates to American culture while planning to bring her parents to Rochester. Family feuds in Bangladesh, a rough patch in her marriage, and the economic downturn put this plan in jeopardy. With delicate precision, Freudenberger in her second novel (after The Dissident) slowly builds a story that feels utterly real and present. The subtle and detailed observation of human relations is reminiscent of Alice Munro, and the bittersweet humor and struggles of modern immigrant life are captured in a manner similar to the work of Bharati Mukherjee. VERDICT Other than a deranged cousin in Bangladesh, there are no real villains here, just imperfect humans who don't always make the right choices but do the best they can in their given circumstances. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 11/28/11.]--Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis [Page 76]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 March #1
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 clichés to entirely satisfy. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC