I Married a Coconut

Stories of an Indian girl growing up in America

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
208 Pages
Reviewed on 03/31/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

I Married a Coconut by Priti Tanna is a memoir of the author's journey as a first-generation American of Indian descent, and all the cultural conflicts and familial pressures that come with it. Growing up with immigrant parents, Priti must balance American societal norms and Indian parental expectations, including her father's dismissal of her childhood dreams of Bollywood. As she grows up and despite setbacks, Priti finds solace in her South Asian heritage through community, camps, dance, and traditional customs. In adulthood, her quest for personal growth leads her to leave a corporate job in favor of an authentic life that reflects her desire for solo travel and volunteer work. Still, at home, her parents' expectations are compounded by an unexpected diagnosis, and Priti ultimately returns to India and acquiesces to her mother's wish for her to marry, symbolically marrying a coconut in a ceremony to round out the rocky road to cultural identity and familial duty.

I Married a Coconut by Priti Tanna is such a pleasure to read, and Tanna's writing style makes it feel more like a conversation with a friend than an actual book. I loved her ability to take extremely difficult situations and use them as benchmarks toward a successful reckoning rather than weights that held her back. I think this is where her persistence pays off; in embracing those issues rather than using them as excuses and accepting less than she wanted. The most fun was in her depictions of dating life, although some excruciatingly painful moments reveal a level of honesty in the telling of her story that not many are willing to share. By “American” family standards—whatever that really means—Tanna is the type of daughter you brag about. Rutgers University, corporate work, philanthropy, travel, I mean, the list of accomplishments goes on and on. That said, as a woman of East Asian descent, I know when enough is not enough, but I am so pleased when women like Tanna come along who can take our unique but often still collective experiences and put them into words. Well written, wonderfully immersive, and very highly recommended.