Title: Digging to America
Author: Anne Tyler
# of pages: 288
Date Started: 1/1/07
Date Finished: 1/5/07
Thoughts: In general, I really liked this book. But there is one little tiny thing that keeps digging in to the back of my skull and keeps me from fully enjoying it. Just a quick synopsis for those who don’t know much about this book… It’s about two little girls who are adopted from Korea. They arrive on the same flight and are delivered to different families, whose lives become intertwined for the rest of the story. It begins in 1997 and continues through the early-to-mid 2000s. (If I counted correctly, at least 2003, possibly 2004.) One of the adopting families is Iranian. But Tyler never really talks about September 11th. Once, when they all go to the airport, they complain about not being able to wait at the gate anymore, and another time, some of the extended Iranian family makes a joke about “flying Muslim.” That’s it. I’m sorry, but it is unbelievable to me that a story that focuses so much on immigration, international adoption, Iranian traditions, and the isolation or integration of immigrants wouldn’t be impacted by September 11th. (I know that it is Ms. Tyler’s style to leave out major world events and focus solely on the family.  I’m not saying she should have described the day, just the impact it would have had on the rest of the story.)  In my work with college freshmen before and after Sept. 11th, I have seen the huge (and sometimes startling) impact on that group, and it’s naive to think that an Iranian family and a super-privileged American-born family would continue their friendship without some bumps along the way. If anything, the Iranians become less annoyed by the American-born family after September 11th. Prior to 2001, the Iranian dad gets into a physical fight with the American-born dad, and entertains his less-assimilated relatives by mocking the American-born family when they’re not around. After 9/11, his treatment of them becomes much more tender, and they become real friends. Now, since the book mainly focuses on the anniversary of the girls’ arrival each year (which is in August), it’s possible that in the intervening year, something happened and their friendship would have been solidified by it. I just wish Ms. Tyler had put it in! Other than this one issue, she really renders human emotions beautifully, and it’s an interesting read. I just feel that if she’d attended to the 9/11 thing, she could have taken it to another level and created something truly amazing.