And Laughter Fell from the Sky by Jyotsna Sreenivasan.
Audience/Genre : Adult/Contemporary Romance.
Publication : June 19th 2012 by William Morrow Paperbacks.
Rasika has always tried to play the role of dutiful daughter. Even though she has a career that allows her to be financially independent, she still lives at home and knows she will someday marry an appropriate suitor. With her twenty-sixth birthday fast approaching, she agrees to an arranged marriage, all while trying to hide from her family her occasional dalliances with other men.
Abhay is everything an Indian-American son shouldn't be. Smart, curious, and ridden with angst, he spent his post-college year in a commune, only to leave and hop among various dead-end jobs, brooding about his inability to find what he wants to do with his life.
Old family friends, Rasika and Abhay seem to have nothing in common, and yet when the two reconnect by chance, sparks immediately fly. Abhay loves Rasika, but he knows her family would never approve. Rasika knows she has feelings for Abhay, but can she turn her back on the family rules she has always tried so hard to live by? The search to find answers takes Abhay and Rasika out of their native Ohio to Oregon and India, where they find that what they have together might just be something worth fighting for.
I don't think I can put into words how much I enjoyed this book. I'm not sure if it's because of my eclectic taste or because I can relate to it, either way, And Laughter Fell from the Sky has a special place in my bookshelf.
Where do I even begin? Abhay and Rasika are two very different people. Rasika has always been the pretty, obedient, smart, classy and prized daughter that would make any parent (especially Indian) proud, whereas Abhay, despite being a genius, is a guy that opposes everything his parents (and society) tells him to do/believe and hasn't found any direction in his life.
I can't point out just one particular thing that I liked about this book. Jyotsna Sreenivasan has perfectly captured the mentality of a lot of Indian families that have immigrated to the US. I'm not kidding, she got it spot on. From the closed society, frequent visits to India, reason for moving (high-paying job) to arranged marriages - this book certainly gives you an insight into Indian culture, although it can't be generalized.
Rasika and Abhay are both from Indian families who've moved from India to the US. Despite living in the US for years, their parents still tell themselves it's not permanent to make themselves feel better and have formed a closed society of Indians to feel at home in a foreign country. The problem is, these parents/families don't realize the what goes on in the minds of their children.
Born in the US, Abhay feels no attachment to his Indian heritage, despite being pressured by his family to confine to his culture, and he has never pretended otherwise.
Rasika has done everything she could to please her family and finally, around the time she turns twenty six, she agrees to an arranged marriage. After all, it's what's expected of her. Rasika has tried to rebel, tried to find love on her own but her gut has only led her to make bad choices in men so eventually, she just decides to go with what her family wants. However, call it fate or destiny, she runs into Abhay before her engagement and as the blurb describes, sparks fly. That night turns into the start of a secret love affair between Abhay and Rasika.
Abhay and Rasika just..fit. He's erratic, without a clue about what he's going to do and Rasika, while on the surface looks like she has it all figured out, is still trying to find out who she really is, without her family telling her what she's supposed to do; and some how you just know that they're perfect for each other right from the start. Although flawed, he's the guy that makes her question her thoughts, actions and even her intentions; the guy that makes admit who she really is, instead of who she tries/pretends to be.
Although Abhay's not a guy I'd pick for myself, I loved Rasika as a protagonist. Her thoughts, doubts and insecurities touched me and it was amazing watching her grow into more throughout the novel.
However, it's not all perfect. Abhay annoyed me. Frequently. Like I said, he's not a character I'd pick for myself; his thoughts and way of speaking didn't seem natural because realistically, no one's so..in your face as soon as you meet them. I just didn't find him very appealing but I could overlook those flaws because I understood Rasika and her world.
And Laughter Fell from the Sky is a sweet, wonderful love story about two people trying to make their relationship work in a judgmental society. I honestly enjoyed this more than I can express.
For those of you who have no clue about Indian culture, Jyotsna's vivd descriptions, lively weddings, unique characters and secret love affairs will have you captivated.