All Those Tears We Can't See

2nd edition

Fiction - Cultural
262 Pages
Reviewed on 08/02/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

All Those Tears We Can't See is a work of fiction in the interpersonal drama, cross-cultural and realistic fiction sub-genres, and was penned by author Gita Audhya. The work is written for an adult reading audience due to the presence of some sensitive topics, plus complex issues of culture, immigration, and the sense of belonging. We meet Samantha and Monica, who both have conflicting emotions within them about their mixture of Indian heritage and the new world of America where their culture is not always understood or appreciated. As Samantha tries to reconcile her beliefs against those of her daughter, who is marrying a Christian man, so begins a fascinating journey of identity and family loyalty.

Author Gita Audhya has crafted a truly beautiful story of different cultures and different viewpoints coming together, and within it, there is a fantastic ideology of India’s history as the heart of the world, and the conflict of traditions versus modernization. The author handles some very difficult topics with grace and emotional realism, whilst also portraying a fragile but very important relationship between a mother and daughter who have a true love for one another, but also some very polarized opinions. I felt that the quality of the narration brought this across beautifully, and I also appreciated the commitment to history and small cultural details and differences, in which the author does a wonderful job of educating us. Overall, I would certainly recommend All Those Tears We Can't See to readers seeking a unique perspective and some accomplished dramatic writing.

Review from book life (publishers weekly)

Audhya’s tearjerker second novel (after In Pursuit of Love, Spirituality, and Happiness) explores the relationship between a contemporary Bengali immigrant and her American-born daughter. Shimonti Bose, raised in a middle-class Bengali family in India, got married and started life over in America in pursuit of the American dream. But Shimonti—now going by Samantha—feels torn between cultures, a divide that only deepens when she raises a daughter, Monica, who feels purely American and eventually starts dating Brandon, a white American man. Then Monica shocks and surprises her mother by accepting a journalist assignment in India. As she and Samantha travel separately through India, Monica begins to understand where her mother came from, while Samantha experiences being a stranger in a changed India.

Monica and Samantha both undergo transformations throughout the novel, illuminating the familial challenges of bridging cultures. Audhya has a gift for description and insight. However, her long asides grow repetitive after a time, and some of the dialogue sounds stilted. Her portrayals of Indian cities are rich and vivid, but readers may be jarred by equally vivid scenes of violence. Some Bengali cultural elements are described in detail for outsiders, but others go unexplained, leaving the book’s intended audience unclear. Indian and American racial politics play significant, sometimes contrasting roles in Samantha’s life. While she is conscious of being treated as an outsider in the U.S., she shrugs off anti-Black racism among Indians. She agonizes over Monica getting engaged to Brandon, threatening to bar Monica from her house and concluding, “I can never think of him as my own son.” Monica and Brandon’s romance is less than compelling; the key relationship is between Samantha and Monica, and the conclusion of their story will have readers weeping.

Audhya connects the past and the present through highlighting both cultural comfort and dissonance in relatable terms. The strongest part of the story is the complexity of the relationship between a mother and daughter who love each other very deeply but struggle to understand each other. This endearing, sometimes tragic story will resonate with anyone who has ever had a difficult relationship with family, and particularly with members of immigrant families who are working to unite generations.

Takeaway: This powerful and insightful drama will appeal to members of immigrant families that are grappling with cultural divides across generations.

Great for fans of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake.