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Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri

Acclaimed author Jhumpa Lahiri is famous for her stories about family, marriage, and cultural struggle. Interpreter of Maladies, published in 1999, was Lahiri’s debut collection. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Since, Lahiri has published many novels, including The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, and The Lowland. Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of short stories that touch on humanity and reality. All of the stories focus on relationships between seemingly normal people, and most of them connect to or take place in India. This connection to India creates conflict in every story, partially because of Lahiri’s own struggles with her culture as part English and part Indian. Some of these stories include the tale of a formerly-happy married couple who struggle with their now-forced connection and the story of a man separated from his family in India during a war. Lahiri dives deep into human emotion and imperfection as she explores the ways in which humans act and love.

Interpreter of Maladies is not the first book by Jhumpa Lahiri I’ve read. However, it is one of my favorites. Lahiri captures human nature in an unmistakably honest way. While the characters are flawed and relatable, it is hard to determine who is the protagonist and who is not. Each character is equally human, and therefore hard to evaluate as a fictional character. Lahiri promotes thought and evaluation of our own flaws, which is different and refreshing. Despite this realism, Lahiri’s work is relaxing to read. Her stories are perfect for reading before bed, or early in the morning; Interpreter of Maladies deserves a read.

Published 1999 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers.

Wrong in All the Right Ways – Tiffany Brownlee

Tiffany Brownlee’s Wrong in All the Right Ways is a novel advertised as an off-limits romance between a girl and her newly-fostered brother. Emma Allenburg is a smart, introverted senior who is top of her class. She doesn’t have any friends, but enjoys reading and doesn’t mind keeping to herself. When her parents decide to foster bad-boy Dylan McAndrews, everything starts to change. What starts as an innocent flirtation slowly evolves into a relationship that could ruin Dylan’s chances of a new family. The two teens have to decide between doing what is right and what feels right. Emma encounters the struggles of making new friends and balancing a secret boyfriend all while applying to the colleges of her dreams.

In all honesty, this book is one of the less-impressive romance novels I have read. The story and plot promised a satisfying story, no matter how cliche. However, I found the characters to be underdeveloped. Main character Emma has little personality aside from being intelligent and straight-laced. At the beginning of the novel, she is portrayed as lonely and socially-incapable. Within a few weeks, she becomes friends with the most popular girl in her grade. The story doesn’t make sense and offers little explanation as to why Emma’s social life was so unsuccessful prior to meeting Dylan. Halfway into the novel, Dylan’s personality suddenly changes, altering him from the kind character he was to a troubled teen with underlying drug problems. While the book had the potential to be simple yet entertaining, the story was so incoherent that I found myself questioning the purpose of some characters. The plot is creative and the ending surprising, but overall, many superior romances exist.

Published in 2018 by Macmillan Publishers.

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