The only Anne Tyler I have read was The Amateur Marriage, and I thought it was okay, but it didnâ€™t do much for me. But I know what you are going to say, her books are amazing, etc. etc., so I thought I would try again. When Digging to America came out, a coworker read it and said it was good, and I filed it away to possibly read at some unspecified later date. That â€œlater dateâ€ turned out to be â€œwhen I was desperately looking for a book for my book club to read.â€
Digging to America is the story of two families who adopt baby girls from Korea. They meet at the airport and form an unlikely bond. The Yazdans, who are Iranian-American, want to raise their daughter Susan to be as â€œAmericanâ€ as possible, while the Donaldsons focus on keeping Jin-Hoâ€™s Korean heritage. Two very different approaches to adoption from two very different families, and yet, somehow, they carve out a friendship, which eventually extends to include the grandparents. The central character of the novel is Maryam, the mother of Sami Yazdan, who is a widow and who eventually has a relationship with Dave, the father of Bitsy Donaldson.
This book is about what it means to belong, to be a part of something, and we see that theme explored through the baby girls, through the Yazdans (who, though American, still feel that there are rules that they donâ€™t know that everyone else seems to play by), and through Bitsy, who is so intense that she doesnâ€™t even seem to be comfortable with herself. I struggle with that feeling of â€œother-ness,â€ with being an outsider, and I liked the way that we could see that some of the characters were both excluded because of circumstances and were choosing to exclude themselves. I especially liked the last scene in this book, when one character literally opens a door to another character, symbolizing a huge shift in her heart and in her approach to those around her.
I want to read more Anne Tyler now, but I donâ€™t really know which direction to go. Any recommendations for me?