The New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of Secret Daughter returns with an unforgettable story of family, responsibility, love, honor, tradition, and identity, in which two childhood friends—a young doctor and a newly married bride—must balance the expectations of their culture and their families with the desires of their own hearts. The first of his family to go to college, Anil Patel, the golden son, carries the weight of tradition and his family’s expectations when he leaves his tiny Indian village to begin a medical residency in Dallas, Texas, at one of the busiest and most competitive hospitals in America.
When his father dies, Anil becomes the de facto head of the Patel household and inherits the mantle of arbiter for all of the village’s disputes. But he is uneasy with the custom, uncertain that he has the wisdom and courage demonstrated by his father and grandfather. His doubts are compounded by the difficulties he discovers in adjusting to a new culture and a new job, challenges that will shake his confidence in himself and his abilities.
Back home in India, Anil’s closest childhood friend, Leena, struggles to adapt to her demanding new husband and relatives. Arranged by her parents, the marriage shatters Leena’s romantic hopes, and eventually forces her to make a desperate choice that will hold drastic repercussions for herself and her family. Though Anil and Leena struggle to come to terms with their identities thousands of miles apart, their lives eventually intersect once more—changing them both and the people they love forever.
Tender and bittersweet, The Golden Son illuminates the ambivalence of people caught between past and present, tradition and modernity, duty and choice; the push and pull of living in two cultures, and the painful decisions we must make to find our true selves.
The dual narrative parallel of the main characters Anil and Leena as they each discover life altering and at times scaring truths about the worlds offers several emotional high peeking moments throughout this book. Moreover, I was greatly intrigued by the differences, both cultural and social, in which Leena’s character and her family have to deal with/handle her ill-fated husband and his family as a posed to Western traditions and methods of handling unique situations such as Leena’s.
I surmise that due to my lack of proper knowledge on the actual social and cultural circumstance, of what seems like a patriarchal structured community, I am at a loss to really give an opinion other than to say that I true empathized with Leena and her family. Likewise, I found Anil’s fear of failure, (failing his father and family) and his fear of being an inadequate doctor both in America and in Panchanagar really relatable. However, I continuously found myself more drawn to Leena’s portion of the story rather than Anil’s due to the mixture of predictability and at times flat character depth in the stereotypical “fish out of water” pitfalls and obstacles to which Anil faces while living in Dallas.
What’s more, it took well into the third portion of this book to truly believe that Anil’s desire to practice medicine was something he truly wanted to do. The idea seemed to be placed in his head by his father and the idea only seemed to be spurred on by the desire to leave his family and be anything but a farm boy or the village arbiter.
Yet despite the separation and the differences in their stories, Anil and Leena’s tales seemed to be intertwined not only by the roots of their small village, but by this veil of naivety about the real world, love and life that needs to be lifted in order for them for them to becomes the true people that they are meant to be.
About The Author:
Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She holds an MBA from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar. She lives in California with her husband and children.