Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi

A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi
Published June 2016 by Lake Union Publishing
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary:
In trendy Silicon Valley, Priya has everything she needs—a loving husband, a career, and a home—but the one thing she wants most is the child she’s unable to have. In a Southern Indian village, Asha doesn’t have much—raising two children in a tiny hut, she and her husband can barely keep a tin roof over their heads—but she wants a better education for her gifted son. Pressured by her family, Asha reluctantly checks into the Happy Mothers House: a baby farm where she can rent her only asset—her womb—to a childless couple overseas. To the dismay of friends and family, Priya places her faith in a woman she’s never met to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Together, the two women discover the best and the worst that India’s rising surrogacy industry has to offer, bridging continents and cultures to bring a new life into the world—and renewed hope to each other.

My Thoughts:
  • This one is right in my wheelhouse - set mostly in India, filled with moral and ethical dilemmas and family dynamics.
  • I had no idea this kind of thing happens but further research confirms that Malladi based the book on reality. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised - where there's a chance for the wealthy to exploit the poor, particularly if they can convince themselves that they are doing good, they're likely to do it. It was interesting to think about the different ways surrogacy is viewed.
  • Malladi explores infertility, marriage, poverty, class structure, parent/child relationships, parental expectations, cultural differences, and, of course, surrogacy.
  • She does a particularly good job of developing Asha as a character - her conflicted feelings about acting as a surrogate, her growth in her marriage, her attachment to her children, her relationship with Priya.
  • Along the way there are a lot of characters to keep track of as Malladi tries to show readers different familial relationships, takes on motherhood, views of surrogacy, and Priya's and Asha's feelings about the baby Asha is carrying. Not all of them felt necessary to the story and slowed the story line down. I would have liked to see some of the relationships become more developed.
  • I think some more judicious editing would have helped tighten up the book - it often felt repetitious and as though it were circling back around on itself. 
  • The end of the book felt rushed to me and I felt like some of the areas where Malladi had been building tension went unresolved in the end. It was almost as if there were a set number of pages the book was meant to be and after the slow buildup there were a limited number of pages to wrap up as much as possible. 
  • That being said, I do understand why some of the things weren't resolved. One of the points Malladi makes is that there is only so much money and it's simply not possible to help everyone in the best way possible. Which means that the home, which most decidedly does not live up to its billing, will remain shabby and the doctor running it will continue to do it as a way to profit from the needs of both the surrogates and the babies' parents. 
  • Despite what I felt were its flaws, I did enjoy a lot about A House for Happy Mothers and think it would make an excellent book club choice. There is a lot to discuss here with the many themes and relationships. 
Thanks to the ladies at TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. To find other opinions (and most of them liked the book more than I did), check out the full tour.  

Amulya Malladi is the author of six novels, including The Sound of Language and The Mango Season. Her books have been translated into several languages, including Dutch, German, Spanish, Danish, Romanian, Serbian, and Tamil. She has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s degree in journalism. When she’s not writing, she works as a marketing executive for a global medical device company. She lives in Copenhagen with her husband and two children.

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