Hi, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Amulya Malladi's A House for Happy Mothers.
Priya and Madhu are happy, but their repeated attempts to have a baby have worn them thin. Now, in an almost last ditch effort, they've opted to hire a surrogate in India to carry their child. It's a move some of their closest friends and family can't understand and some find it hard to support, but for Priya it means having their own child even if she's not the one to carry it to term.
Asha knows her son is smart. And she knows their village school can't give him the education he needs. But she and her husband, Pratap, don't have the money to pay for something better. And so, at the suggestion of her sister-in-law and mother-in-law, she's decided to become a surrogate. Already a mother of two, it isn't carrying the child that's the hardest thing for her to handle, but the knowledge that she can't build any sort of connection with the baby - it isn't hers to love. In the end, though, Asha is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure a future for her son.
A House for Happy Mothers was, for me, a surprisingly easy read. It's somewhat issuey in terms of topic but I thought Malladi did a fantastic job with these characters. They're both focused on the surrogacy and the various issues that surround their individual positions - Priya has to deal with comments from other mothers about how lucky she is she'll keep her figure, etc, comments from her mother about how she's exploiting this poor Indian woman (her mother is Indian as well), and the normal fears of having a child but with the added worry of it being a world away! Meanwhile, Asha is concerned about the stigma of selling her womb. But in addition to all of that, Malladi takes the time to build them and their families as whole and rounded characters!
The emotions in particular are very poignant. Priya's yearning to be a mother, Asha's battle with - as mentioned above - not becoming attached to the child she carries... Both women experience highs and lows, illustrating, I think, the pain and mental strain that anyone in their position must struggle with regularly.
And while Priya and Asha are both Indian, and represent two very different aspects of the culture: Priya was born in America, the daughter of an Indian mother and a white father, and barely speaks Telugu. She's had every advantage and, as Asha sees it, luxury of growing up in the States. Asha, on the other hand, barely speaks English and lives a life I think Priya herself would have a hard time even imagining. Malladi does, again, a fabulous jobs with these characters, giving readers insight into these two very different lives. But, that said, it's still a very universal story.
A House for Happy Mothers will likely be a harder read for some than others. In my opinion, though, Malladi handles the subject well and balances the truly heart breaking moments with hope and even a little humor.
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.
For more on Amulya Malladi and her work you can visit her website here. You can also friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.