The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

The NewlywedsI started listening to this lovely novel and was drawn into the story of Amina, a young Muslim woman from Bangladesh, who comes to Rochester, NY to marry a man she met via the Internet. George seems like a nice guy, an engineer with a good job, and Amina works hard at learning to adjust to life in that small, cold, upstate NY city.  She’s a particularly intelligent, thoughtful person, and the story’s told from her viewpoint as she tries hard to balance her new life and aspirations against her parents’ expectations, especially their hopes that she’ll continue to live as an observant Muslim.

Since novels are based on complications, we learn that Amina and George have prior relationships that cause tension in the marriage. And George’s family has some issues that complicate Amina’s life. Amina wants to bring her parents to Rochester as soon as she gets her green card, although in the course of the novel she begins to understand how difficult that will be. In the last section of the novel, Amina returns to Bangladesh to shepherd her parents through the visa process and flight to the U.S. There are problems, and she ends up staying longer than expected, immersed in the old rivalries and jealousies that she went to America to escape.

The novel ends without much resolution, leaving the reader (or listener) with lots to ponder about what Amina has in store for her. The narrator was excellent, although since the pacing is slow, I eventually became frustrated and went to the library and read the last section. For those who enjoy immigrant stories, The Newlyweds is a little gem.

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