In this quiet but engaging debut novel, an American teenager spends the summer with her relatives in southern India and gains new insight into her past, her family and her heritage. Born in Kerala, Maya spent the first four years of her life there, cared for mainly by her grandmother, Ammamma, until she was sent to live with her parents in New York. At 15, with her parents' marriage undergoing a rough patch, she is sent back to India to stay with her Aunt Reema and Uncle Sanjay, their 10-year-old daughter, Brindha, and Ammamma at their house in the tea hills above Coimbatore. It's been years since Maya came to visit, and this time she is keenly aware of cultural differences: the different spheres of men and women and the persistence of the caste system. She feels stifled by the attentions of Ammamma and resentful of the time she must spend with the old woman. When Maya suffers an accident while most of the family is away, she and Ammamma grow closer, and Maya learns a hidden family fact. But only when Ammamma falls ill and the entire family gathers, including Maya's parents from New York, does Maya begin to comprehend more deeply the complexities of relationships.
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|Title of eBook: Motherland|
|Release Date: 07-01-2003|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Soho Press|
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I was shipped off to India that summer because of the death of a deer. There were deer crossing signs all along the Cross-Westchester Expressway, but this one came out of nowhere. The car was totaled, and when the police came they told us not to feel bad about the deer, it was an aged old thing, and it had died quickly. They helped us get the car off the highway and called our parents, and waited with us for a towtruck. Then they arrested Steve for driving under the influence.
Steve had only had a few beers at his brothels house earlier that evening; I'd had only half of one beer because they'd just put the six-packs in the refrigerator and they were still too warm for my taste. So I hadn't been the one drinking, and I wasn't the one who killed the deer. I hadn't really done anything wrong, but I was the one being sent away for the summer. My mother wasn't interested in the details. She was only interested in confirming why she shouldn't like Steve, and why I should be separated from what she called, in a piercing voice in the car on the way home from the police station, my "frat-boy boyfriend." Steve wasn't in a fraternity, he was still in high school, and he would never join a fraternity when he went to college. I wouldn't have liked Steve if he drank a lot at parties, or at football games, or if he drank because he was happy and having fun. Steve drank because he was sad, and I understood that. Sadness had a home in me, too.
Dust whited out the view as the plane's wheels skidded beyond the undersize tarmac runway into dirt. When my window cleared, I could see men r...