Anne Cherian, in her latest book “The Invitation” explores the immigrant experience and its influence on Indian immigrant parents and their American born children. Frances, Jay, Vikram and Lali, who meet at UCLA at a time when Indian students were still a rarity, form the backdrop of this story. They graduate from UCLA expecting to be very successful and raising kids that are even more outstanding. When things don’t quite work out as planned, each is forced to rethink their choices and the decisions that got them there. Compelling in its narrative as it is in its message, “The Invitation” offers a glimpse into the kind of disconnect sometimes present between immigrant parents and their US born children. Growing up in India with the pressure to succeed in a fiercely competitive academic environment, and sometimes when even the basic necessities become a luxury that cannot be afforded, immigrant parents strive to create a future for their kids, they could only have dreamed of back home. In contrast, our kids born and brought up in the US, are free from this pressure and emotional baggage, they are taught to assert their independence not only in their thinking but also in their choices, even if that means graduating from MIT with a degree in computer science and going on to become a sous chef. To first generation Indian Americans, an important measure of success is to have the freedom to pursue their heart’s desire. This poses an interesting question, can or are we willing to let go of our traditional views and give our kids a chance to be who they want to be? Seen through the eyes of an immigrant, this book has ample moments that some of us can truly relate to. Check out “The Invitation” now available in bookstores.
(image via amazon.com)