What a Happy Family

Berkley. Jun. 2021. 400p. ISBN 9781984806178. pap. $16. F
In Dave’s second novel (after Well-Behaved Indian Women) the Indian American Joshi family seems to be a happy one. Father Deepak, a psychiatrist, is kind but somewhat clueless. His wife Bina is the consummate Atlanta homemaker, dishing out stacks of homemade roti and bringing together a cross-section of Indian American immigrant women for Chats Over Chai. Eldest daughter Suhani is the golden child—beautiful, compassionate, smart—and a finalist for chief resident of her psychiatry program. Middle child Natasha is the irreverent, funny one, while the youngest, Anuj, is a quiet, laid-back, loving brother. But it’s evident that each has their issues. Suhani and Natasha, in particular, feel that they’ll never live up to their mother’s expectations, based on Bina’s own regret for having abandoned a fledgling acting career. This book revisits themes from Dave’s debut, such as identity, motherhood, guilt, and immigrant family dynamics. Dave is a practicing therapist, with an evident commitment to improving women’s mental health; her latest novel delivers relatable and affirming bibliotherapy.
VERDICT This contemporary Indian American family drama with a strong dose of psychology will have readers rooting for the characters despite their human shortcomings.
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