Every young Indian leaving the homeland for the United States is given the following orders by their parents: Don’t eat any cow (It’s still sacred!), don t go out too much, save (and save, and save) your money, and most important, do “not” marry a foreigner. Priya Rao left India when she was twenty to study in the U.S., and she s never been back. Now, seven years later, she s out of excuses. She has to return and give her family the news: She s engaged to Nick Collins, a kind, loving American man. It’s going to break their hearts.
Returning to India is an overwhelming experience for Priya. When she was growing up, summer was all about mangoes ripe, sweet mangoes, bursting with juices that dripped down your chin, hands, and neck. But after years away, she sweats as if she’s never been through an Indian summer before. Everything looks dirtier than she remembered. And things that used to seem natural (a buffalo strolling down a newly laid asphalt road, for example) now feel totally chaotic.
But Priya’s relatives remain the same. Her mother and father insist that it s time they arranged her marriage to a nice Indian boy. Her extended family talks of nothing “but” marriage particularly the marriage of her uncle Anand, which still has them reeling. Not only did Anand marry a woman from another Indian state, but he also married for love. Happiness and love are not the point of her grandparents or her parents union. In her family s rule book, duty is at the top of the list.
Just as Priya begins to feel she can t possibly tell her family that she s engaged to an American, a secret is revealed that leaves her stunned and off-balance. Now she is forced to choose between the love of her family and Nick, the love of her life.
As sharp and intoxicating as sugarcane juice bought fresh from a market cart, “The Mango Season” is a delightful trip into the heart and soul of both contemporary India and a woman on the edge of a profound life change.
“You’ve made your own life… no matter how your culture tells you that you owe your parents, you have to remember that children never owe their parents. You don’t owe your parents anything”
This novel was a quick read! I really enjoyed it, although at times I felt like it was a bit dragged as it was mainly taking place over one day. We learn a lot about the Indian culture and how very strict it was back then – unsure of now however it is how the main character is viewing her old life and how ‘americanized’ she has become when she visits it after almost a decade away from it. I felt like I understood her annoying reasons for continuing to chicken out at telling her family as it would be very difficult in that type of culture. I have never realised how important mangos are and how they can equate to happiness either.