What do you do if your mother-in-law appears at your door with a suitcase? Well, as our heroine, Rachel, soon learns, if you are in India and married to an Indian man, you invite her in and give her your bedroom. So begins our introduction to Rachel and the life in which she finds herself.
After a whirlwind romance and subsequent marriage, Rachel finds herself in a small apartment in Mumbai, navigating a new language and culture in a country she must make her home. Enter Swati, her mother-in-law, who she has met only once and has now appeared, with no warning, carrying a suitcase, and planning to stay. Change overload!
In Motherland, Leah Franqui takes what feels like an honest look at the challenges of adapting to and becoming a part of a new and completely different culture. Rachel is told that she will “get used to” the way things are, but as hard as she tries, she can’t seem to get it right. Franqui writes that to Rachel “it felt like an indictment of her own inability to change.”
Time passes, Swati, stays, and Rachel begins to find her place in her new world and begins to navigate her tenuous relationship with her mother-in-law. As the two women learn to live together, each teaching the other, they also learn about themselves.
Franqui’s open treatment of the women’s relationships with each other and those around them, and their feelings about their own life decisions and drives this entertaining and thought-provoking look at culture, family and the importance of knowing yourself.
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