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Digging to America    by Anne Tyler order for
Digging to America
by Anne Tyler
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Softcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

Despite having read this book during the hazy days of summer, in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave, I nevertheless felt as if I were bundled up in a comforter by the fireplace - Anne Tyler's books have always made me feel cozy.

Tyler's latest novel explores what it means to be American, and what it means to belong. Sami and Ziba meet Bitsy and Brad Donaldson in a Baltimore airport. Both couples are there to greet their new baby girls, adopted from Korea. The couples and their families form a tentative friendship, which, despite cultural and age differences, deepens over time.

Sami and Ziba are of Iranian heritage. Sami was born in America, though his mother, Maryam, came to the states from Iran as a bride four decades earlier. Maryam has never felt fully American, nor does she feel she fits in with Iranians anymore. Bitsy and Brad are as American as they come, though they are raising their daughter in her Korean heritage, while Sami and Ziba are Americanizing their daughter.

The families have an annual celebration called 'Arrival Day,' where they celebrate the girls' adoptions. Over the years a relationship slowly emerges between Bitsy's recently widowed father, and Sami's widowed mother. Maryam felt as foreign in a relationship as she did living in America: 'Sometimes lately she felt as if she had emigrated all over again. Once more she had left her past self behind, moved to an alien land, and lost any hope of returning.'

Digging to America is really about the family you are born into, the family you create, the clash of cultures and the merging of cultures. The incomparable Tyler, a brilliant storyteller, has a gift for turning ordinary people and situations into fascinating reading with her effortless prose and keen insights.

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