Readers review America for BeginnersThe road novel has a long and storied tradition in American literature. Something in our nature appreciates the narrative conceit of wandering this expansive nation, usually down dusty highways in a beat-up car, with all the requisite detours and colorful encounters such journeys entail. America for Beginners by Leah Franqui provides a new twist on this usually aimless, meandering genre: the pre-paid, package-tour novel. The package in question is put together by the First Class India USA Destination Vacation Tour Company, a travel agency that caters to the moneyed class in India and takes great pains to hide the fact that it is run by Bangladeshis. The owner of the company, Ronnie Munshi, spends his days popping Tums and arranging visits to America for mainly small groups of wealthy Indian women on a lark.
Healing loss, finding love on the road
Rate this book. Recalling contemporary classics such as Americanah, Behold the Dreamers , and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao , a funny, poignant, and insightful debut novel that explores the complexities of family, immigration, prejudice, and the American Dream through meaningful and unlikely friendships forged in unusual circumstances. But unlike other upper-class Indians on a foreign holiday, the recently widowed Pival is not interested in sightseeing. She is traveling thousands of miles from Kolkota to New York on a cross-country journey to California, where she hopes to uncover the truth about her beloved son, Rahi. A year ago Rahi devastated his very traditional parents when he told them he was gay. Then, Pival's husband, Ram, told her that their son had died suddenly - heartbreaking news she still refuses to accept.
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Pival Sengupta , a recent widow from India, leads the narrative. Her authoritarian husband has died, and with new-found freedom she decides to travel to America in search of Rahi , her son who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Readers soon discover that it is difficult for Pival to be assertive, but with help from two strangers she meets in New York — Rebecca, an actress who dreams of stardom, and Satya who has only been in New York for just a year and then mostly staying close to the boroughs — she begins to find her footing, especially once they travel cross-country together. The novel proceeds on the power of Ms. Satya is constantly starving and his limited experience of the world, especially America, makes him an unlikely tour guide, but he displays a particular skill for keeping things moving. Rebecca, on the other hand, is more confident, an outspoken American who has her heart set on making it in the acting industry, so a trip that takes the trio from New York to California with unlikely stops in Niagara Falls and New Orleans could not be better.