4.6 of 5
In “Well-Behaved Indian Women,” Saumya Dave deftly captures the ironies and conflicts that are part of being a woman. While the characters face some unique challenges due to their culture, the underlying theme of a woman’s struggle for identity is universal and was clearly portrayed.
We find Nandini in the United States where she moved with her husband Ranjit after they married. Nandini and Ranjit’s marriage was arranged by their parents as was the custom in India. Both of them are doctors, however while Ranjit gets to fulfill his dream as a renowned surgeon, Nandini is expected to balance her career with her very demanding home life of two kids and the expectations of her intrusive in-laws.
Nandini’s daughter Simran is newly engaged to her high school sweetheart. But while she was raised to be a modern, educated American woman, wedding customs and traditional values are quickly revealed and Simran soon feels lost in her relationship, her education and her ambitions for the future.
Connecting the two women is Nani, Nandini’s mother and Simran’s grandmother. As is common, Nandini and her daughter butt heads on most things, while Nani helps both women understand each other by teaching them to understand themselves first.
The characters in “Well-Behaved Indian Women” struggle with balancing their desires with the expectations forced upon them. The old saying that you must learn to love yourself before you can truly love others, is prevalent and a good lesson for all of us who struggle with these same conflicts.
Saumya Dave masterfully created characters that all women can relate to. I know it’s a good book when I can’t stop thinking about the characters long after the book is finished, and this is certainly what I felt after reading this book.
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