Audiobook · Fiction · Julia P · Relationships

The Newlyweds | by Nell Freudenberger

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger
(Knopf, 2012, 352 pages)

I first read the work of Nell Freudenberger in 20 Under 40: Stories from The New Yorker – she was one of 20 writers chosen by The New Yorker for their ability to “capture the inventiveness and the vitality of contemporary American fiction.” The short story of Freudenberger’s included in 20 Under 40 (“The Arranged Marriage”) appears to be the foundation for The Newlyweds. The novel revolves around a young woman from Bangladesh, Amina, who has always been enamored with the idea of living and going to school in America. Through an international online dating site she gets in touch with George who lives in Rochester, New York. After emailing regularly they come to the agreement that they will marry and Amina finally gets to see her American dreams realized when she moves to Rochester.

There’s certainly a learning curve when she arrives. Amina is more or less readily accepted by George’s family, though they make numerous assumptions about where she’s from and don’t really seem to grasp that she’s Muslim. Amina is befriended by George’s adopted cousin, Kim, who has always been the black sheep in the family. As Amina attends school and works part-time (sending portions of each paycheck home to her parents) she tries to figure out the best way to explain to her new husband that her plan after obtaining citizenship is to bring her parents over to live with them…

Amina and George have a number of ups and downs thanks to miscommunication, poorly kept secrets, and the way the past keeps finding ways to reinsert itself in the present. I enjoyed The Newlyweds and thought the audiobook was very well narrated.

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