Friday, December 16, 2011

My Book Review of Suits

I really enjoyed Suits by Nina Godiwalla, and as I wrote in my review on Women's Web here, I recommend it unreservedly.

However, there was one thing that kept striking me as I read, one recurring motif that made me want to cry out to the narrator-protagonist-author: "Don't do that!"

There are two threads to the story: the main one is of course about a young woman trying to build a career in one of the biggest, most successful financial companies on Wall Street. But also, there is the American girl from a Parsi family who grew up in a Houston suburb, who remembers her childhood and mostly, how her parents treated her. And almost every reminiscence involves a time when her father bullied her or didn't appreciate her for doing exceptionally well at school. How nothing she did was good enough.

And yet, she keeps trying to live up to the expectations of that same parent. Instead of trying to find her path to happiness, trying to find something she would love to do, instead of growing up and moving far away and trying to be her own person... she keeps trying to be what her dad would want her to be. She goes to Wall Street because her dad was impressed by Wall Street banker types. She sticks on to the job she hates working with people she is repulsed by, because she knows her father wouldn't want her to quit.

Her elder sisters too, follow the same pattern. (The youngest, ironically--or perhaps naturally?--seems more mature.) They all take up "conventional" career choices because their parents would be shocked if they took up liberal arts or god forbid, dancing! as a career.

And I find that simply incomprehensible. Even though I know most people follow this script, all the time. Even though I definitely took my dad's advice into consideration when I was trying to decide what to do. And he was glad that I steered off liberal arts. But I considered other avenues. I explored doing something I would love and not just be good at: and finally gave it up because there were some aspects of it I realized I wouldn't love. I went against my dad's wishes and took up arts instead of science in college, and I must say it's to my dad's credit that he let me, though he didn't like it: after all, I wasn't even adult  yet.

All I can say is, I'm glad I made my own decisions. Because even where I went wrong, I only had myself to blame and I could learn something more from the experience than "don't let someone else decide your life." That lesson, I had always known.


Jabberwock said...

Nina was at the ToI literary carnival (which, again, you should have come for). Spoke with her a couple of times - haven't read the book yet, but will try to.

Unmana said...

Not nice of you to make me feel worse about missing it, Jai! :)