Digging to America
Digging to America truly embraces the true values and unique attributes of America. As an American 20th century writer, Tyler explores the modern American culture and what it means to live in such a vast and diverse country. In the story, she lets us in on the lives of different characters from two separate American families, who struggle with their identities and try to find a sense of belonging. The story starts in an airport in Baltimore, where two families, the Yazdans and the Donaldsons, both anxiously wait for the arrival of a baby from Korea.
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Little did they know that this affair would mark the start to an accidental, but lasting friendship. Bitsy and Brad Donaldson strictly believe in preserving the traditions of their Korean daughter Jin-Ho, 1while the Yazdans battle and try to find a balance between raising their Korean daughter Susan, the Iranian culture, and the American culture. An annual tradition begins when the Bitsy decides to have an “arrival party”, which commemorates the coming of Susan and Jin-Ho. These families alternate hosting the party, and with each passing year, are able to build a stronger bond.
However, problems rise as their cultures clash. The journey of these two families reveals the perspectives of Americans who are born in American and people who are immigrants or have ancestors who are immigrants. The lives of both types of Americans are portrayed both realistically and accurately. Throughout the story, the Yazdans often struggle to fit in and are inspired and ultimately influenced by the Donaldsons. Sami and Ziba Yazdan are intrigued by the lifestyles and decisions of Bitsy and Brad and want to be like them, however, Sami’s mother Maryam, disapproves of this endeavor.
Maryam, who is very traditional, can be compared to many grandparents who emigrated from their birth country to America today. She finds distaste in the American culture and has clearly not adapted to not only life in America, but also modern society. She is a very caring grandmother, family member, and friend; however she is not open-minded when it comes to new ideas. The story spends a great deal of time talking about the struggle in trying to adapt to the American culture.
The Donaldsons and Yazdans both struggle; however, they face different problems that are unique to their specific situation. However, the story does not portray both sides equally and does not spend as much time on the Donaldson’s thoughts on their experiences with adoption and new distant cultures. Anne Tyler uses colloquial and modern language, which makes Digging to America a great read for all audiences. The scenes with the annual “arrival party” can be a repetitive; however overall, this book is a quick and easy read.
The characters in the story all have their own separate ideas and standards and each individually have their own story. Readers can expect to connect with a certain character and be inspired by his or her story. Tyler takes her readers on a journey where the characters of the book encounter an array of problems dealing with finding one’s true identity. She explores what it means to be an American, the importance of family, and even includes a little romance. This story is packed with emotion and will leave readers laughing one minute and crying in empathy with a character the next.