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And Laughter Fell from the Sky: A Novel Paperback – Jun 19 2012
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“Jyotsna Sreenivasan’s poignant debut novel And Laughter Fell from the Sky is a moving love story that is both traditional and modern, surprising and deeply comforting - it’s not only about finding love, but a way to be true to ourselves.” (Laura Dave, author of The First Husband)
“And Laughter Fell from the Sky is a timely story about what matters most deeply: our quest for love and acceptance, and our fear that we will never find that person who might give us both. Jyotsna Sreenivasan’s writing speaks straight to the heart.” (Kim Barnes, author of In the Kingdom of Men)
“Insightful, hopeful, and luminescent, Sreenivasan’s novel will make you believe in the power of love to overcome all obstacles.” (Anjali Banerjee, author of Haunting Jasmine and Imaginary Men)
“Sreenivasan writes with a tender, seemingly semiautobiographical view of her subjects and clearly understands the familial and cultural pressures on second-generation Americans. . . . A witty, timely exploration of the varying definitions of success, belonging, cultural identity, and the human desire to connect.” (Booklist)
From the Back Cover
Still living at home despite a good career and financial independence, beautiful and sophisticated Rasika has always been the dutiful daughter. With her twenty-sixth birthday fast approaching, she agrees to an arranged marriage, all while trying to hide from her family her occasional dalliances with other men.
Abhay is everything an Indian-American son shouldn't be. Having spent his postcollege years living in a commune, he now hops from one dead-end job to another, brooding over what he really wants to do with his life.
Old family friends, Rasika and Abhay seem to have nothing in common, yet when the two reconnect by chance, sparks immediately fly. Abhay loves Rasika, but he knows her family would never approve. Rasika reluctantly accepts she has feelings for Abhay, but can she turn her back on the family rules she has always tried so hard to live by? The search to find answers takes Abhay and Rasika out of their native Ohio to Oregon and India, where they find that what they have together might just be something worth fighting for.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
It quickly becomes clear that Rasika doesn't know how to deal with the pressure of an arranged marriage. The only reason she agrees to it is because she will have the ideal husband'handsome, well-educated, and doting. She thinks she has good values because she has grace, dresses well and is beautiful. However, she is promiscuous and has short-lived relationships with men to get away from the pressures of her parents. This is what she does with Abhay too. She sleeps with him and then wants nothing to do with him because she doesn't want her parents to find out about her double life, and besides, he is from a different caste and therefore would never be accepted by her parents as an acceptable husband.
Abhay, on the other hand, understands why Rasika acts the way she does, why she is so messed up, and even though he knows she only used him for sex, he still wants her.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Although I had a hard time relating to Rasika, I was fascinated by (and at times truly annoyed with) her character. I can't comprehend what it would be like to have parents who wanted to arrange a marriage for me, but Rasika feels so strongly that she must follow her parents' wishes that she leads what is almost a double life. Around them she plays the part of dutiful daughter, but secretly she explores her own wishes, desires, and dreams. This conflict of selves leaves her almost wooden in her inward thoughts and feelings, and she copes by focusing on trivial matters. She likes to shop and decorate, and feels in control when picking out clothing or putting on her makeup. At first I thought this was just an expression of how vapid and materialistic Rasika was, and then I realized it was a coping mechanism used by this desperate woman who had no real control over her life.
I identified more with Abhay, who is a recent college grad without much purpose in his life. He bounces from job to job, not finding satisfaction in any of them. He thinks living in a commune is the answer, but quickly realizes that the situation is far from what he actually wants. It's not entirely clear to me why he falls in love with Rasika (other than she's beautiful), but perhaps it has something to do with wanting to return to a happier time in his life. As the older sister of a childhood friend, she reminds him of growing up, and what it felt like to be good at everything--winning competitions, gaining recognition for amazing grades, and feeling as though the possibilities for his future are endless. If that's the time in his life he wants to return to, I can't blame him.
The plot of the book is a bit rambling, and I felt as though the part where Abhay moves to Portland could have been pared down and tightened, but overall I found it compelling and I wanted to keep reading. The end isn't a surprise, although I won't reveal it here, but I still enjoyed the book overall as a fun beach read. It's interesting to read about the prospect of an arranged marriage--something that I don't imagine I will ever encounter firsthand--and seeing it through the eyes of Rasika and Abhay helped me understand more why people my age sometimes still follow this option. Although the characters' dialogue was at times stilted and formulaic, I think Sreenivasan has potential as an author, and I'm excited to see what she writes next.
I could not put this book down once I started it. It's a beautifully written story about two Indian-Americans, Rasika and Abhay, who are drawn to each other in spite of formidable obstacles. Abhay is struggling to find his place in the world, and Rasika is trying to please her parents by accepting an arranged marriage. Rasika and Abhay's growing feelings for each other are realistically written, as each struggles with what they should do versus what their hearts really want.
I love books about India and found myself fascinated by the exploration of Indian culture and traditions. The impact of technology and Westernization on traditional Indian family practices, as well as the unique experience of being an Indian-American and straddling two very different cultures, were themes that added a richness and depth to an already compelling love story.
At times each of the characters was somewhat frustrating-- Rasika occasionally came across as shallow and Abhay in his less shining moments as directionless, but through it all the reader was able to maintain a strong connection to these flawed, but completely human characters. It was easy to be swept up into this story and to relate to the characters. A very quick read with a great deal of depth.
Abhay in seemingly more spiritual despite disavowing his own Indian background; his unrest is rooted in searching for a single path toward happiness. He has been inexplicably attracted to Rasika since high school.
When Rasika's and Abhay's meandering paths cross again after college, the outcome is predictable and padded superficially. Any resultant loft brings to my mind Young Adult Fiction more than comparisons to any other specific wildly popular author. I never became engrossed, despite the insertion of heady topics like spirituality versus religion, impulse versus intuition, the collision of castes, alternative ecology, overpopulation, possible anorexia, and even The Creepy Uncle.
As Rasika and Ahbay meandered toward their predictable conclusions, I just wanted to be done with them both.
Rasika is a career woman; her parents, immigrants from India, fear that she will not marry before her 26th birthday. Her horoscope has indicated this is the date by which Rasika should be married. Finally agreeing to an arranged marriage and to please her parents, Rasika continues to find fault with or to sabotage the meeting with each prospective groom. Her younger brother's friend, Abhay, is of a lower caste; he is extremely intelligent, but has been underemployed since graduating from college. He has yet to find himself. Abhay is in love with Rasika who sees him only as another casual dalliance. "And Laughter Fell From The Sky" follows the two as they come to realize each is exactly the partner the other needs to be complete.
"And Laughter Fell From The Sky" does not live up to its initial promise. The characters lack depth; none develop fully into an individual with whom the reader would want to spend time. Abhay's meandering into various situations detracts from the main theme. Rasika's conflict with her cultural heritage and her attempt to reconcile that conflict with her more modern beliefs do not seem to be given sufficient attention. Portions of the narrative were less than engaging and, at times, became tedious.
Jyotsna Sreenivasan seems to have the background and knowledge to write a far better than average novel. "And Laughter Fell From The Sky," however, was only an average read.
To me, the story was okay, but not great. Rasika and Abhay are twenty-something Indian-Americans who are struggling to find their ways in life. He is a brilliant scholar but, to the chagrin of his parents, he doesn't have a whole lot of ambition. As I read, I liked him and got the sense that as he matured he would settle into life and learn to be happy. His past living in a commune and his hippyish existence for most of the story, though, made him really not good boyfriend or husband material, though, so I could easily see why Rasika, who is definitely attracted to him, doesn't even consider him as a possibility for more than their temporary fling.
I found it much more difficult to relate to Rasika. I wanted to be able to empathize with her personal struggle of trying to be an independent woman while at the same time living up to her parent's expectations of a good Indian girl. However, I found her to be materialistic and aloof, almost to the point of coldness. I wasn't sure what Abhay saw in her other than beauty, and I thought she was inconsiderate of him. Despite his professed love for her, she allows herself to get swept into one marriage arrangement after another which she then subconsciously (or consciously in at least one case) sabotages.
The story wasn't bad, it just didn't satisfy me. I don't need to have a lot of angst, but there was very little heart-tugging for me in this book, much less heart wrenching. It was interesting to read about the struggles that these Indian-Americans were dealing with, but I think a much better story that deals with the conflict for young Indians who are trying to live up to their parents' culture and ideals (though in Britain rather than America) is the film Bend It Like Beckham (Widescreen Edition). I rarely advocate for movies over books, but Bend It accomplishes what And Laughter falls so short of.