Although the novel's perspective shifts among its many characters, Sami's mother Maryam is at its narrative and emotional heart, who carefully tries to preserve her 'outsiderness'' and despite having emigrated from Iran almost 40 years earlier, is frequently perplexed by her son and daughter-in-law's ongoing relationship with the loud, opinionated, unapologetically American Donaldson.
Anne Tyler uses the story of the families' growing friendship to explore what it means to be American . Two families keep in touch and meet every year to celebrate the day when they adopted two little girls from Korea. The Donaldsons and Yazdans have very different approaches to non-biological parenthood - Brad and Bitsy, "whose cultural sensitivity verges on aggression" (Schillinger, 2006), insist on calling their daughter Jin-ho, a Korean birth name, and dress her in Korean clothes while trying to retain the ethnic heritages of her daughter. Ziba and Sami Yazdan, in contrast, do their best to Americanize their daughter - the original name Sooki is replaced by more American Susan, which is also "a comfortable sound for Iranians to pronounce" (Matthews, 2006) and the way of life does not seem to be Korean for a girl.
Despite the opposite brining up approaches the families maintain their relationship, and the reason is no ...Show more