Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-newlyweds.html
The Newlyweds is the story of Amina. Amina is a young woman who grows up in Bangladesh in a poor family without many opportunities. Her way out is a marriage. George lives in Rochester, New York - a world away. George and Amina forge a relationship online and get married. Amina moves to America and then continues to straddle her two worlds in America and in Bangladesh.
Added to this are Amina's family and George's family and people from both their pasts. Also, added to this are the challenges of an immigrant life and of adaptation to a world so different from one you have known.
The story is written from Amina's perspective. The other characters - George, Kim, Nasir - are not well developed. I wish I knew more of their stories. We get glimpses, but that is it. Yet Amina's story over the course of the book pulls me in. I feel her struggles and care what happens to her even when I don't agree with some of the choices she makes.
I also find the challenges of straddling two cultures well expressed in this book. The challenges that George and Amina face in getting to know each other over a wide cultural gap. The challenges both families face in accepting George and Amina's choice. The challenges that Amina faces in adapting to life in Rochester and her insecurities about fitting in. The challenges that Amina faces when she returns to Bangladesh having different views based on her time away. As Amina says, "It's hard for people to remember that you belong to one place when you look like you're from another."
Ultimately, there is also a sadness to this book because it is also about the paths not taken for both George and Amina.
The book is long. It has a slow pace. Many of the characters are not well developed. Yet, I liked the book. I am not sure why, but I did. Amina says in the book, "I don't see what's wrong with living quietly ... We should be grateful for it. Why do we need to be part of history - what makes us so special?" This book is a quiet book, but it quietly makes it way into your heart.