This is a book I loved - it included characters which I think must be representing old India. A traditional farming family with a hierarchy clearly demarcated on who must do what. The cracks appear when the eldest decides on a career in medicine and ends up leaving his village home for Chicago to follow an internship and a subsequent full time medical career. His childhood friend Leena is also now grown up, and despite them being very close as children, they have grown apart as they grew up.
Anil leaves for the States and Leena is given in marriage to a man who ill treats her, and whose family treat her like a dog. Leena feels that for the sake of her parents she must accept what fate has doled out for her and stays in the situation until a totally unacceptable situation forces her to flee.
Anil in the meanwhile has tried to find his feet in America, but finds the whole situation very confusing. When a mistake that caused the death of a patient in his care, a love affair that goes wrong, and the death of his father Anil has to try to decide what is best for him and his family. Trying to balance the responsibilities of eldest son and arbiter of disputes of his clan is not really Anil's scene but he is forced into this situation and he has to make the best of it.
The story of Anil and Leena and how they try to survive their individual traumas is the story. The idea of not thinking of oneself only but how everything should be done for the betterment and what is best for the family is not an idea that could be understood by all, as it means personal sacrifice for the benefit of the whole.
I liked the way this author balances the old with the new, and especially how new immigrants have to learn so much of what is totally new to them. The subject of immigrants is very close to me as family are all immigrants and I think of them all the time whilst reading a book such as this.