A House for Happy Mothers was not a book on my "want to read" list I just happened to pick it up on my Kindle through Amazon Primes Kindle First program, Normally the books are so-so but I pick one monthly to download and if I get to it I read it and if not it's there for someday. Right now because I am nursing I find having a book to read on my phone at night gets read pretty quickly!
This was my first book by Amulya Malladi I had never heard of her before but I liked her writing style and would read another book. The only thing that was sometimes hard to grasp was her Indian culture references and that's just because I am unfamiliar with the culture and how to pronounce names and what certain items or traditions were that she referred to.
The book follows two women, Priya and Asha. Priya longs to be a mother but is unable to carry a pregnancy to term so she seeks out a surrogacy program. The book focuses on an Indian surrogacy program called Happy Mothers House, This is a fertility clinic, paired with a surrogacy home and it is located in India. Priya and her husband reside in California but they are both Indian (her husband was born there) and Priya's mother is Indian. The book portrays surrogacy as an option for poor Indian families as a way to be able to afford a flat or in the case of Asha a better school for her son who is gifted. Many of the women who stay at Happy Mothers have been surrogates multiple times to afford things for their families.
Amulya Malladi paints a compare and contrast picture between Priya and Asha. Priya and her husband aren't wealthy but they do well by US standards and don't want for much. Asha's family on the other hand live in a hut in a small village where they don't even have plumbing. Asha's family moves into her brother in laws flat which was bought with surrogacy money. This is what gives Asha's husband the idea for Asha to also be a surrogate. Her plan for the money is for their gifted son, her husband would prefer to buy a house.
You are taken through the surrogacy process start to finish. The author introduces other surrogates when Asha moves into the Happy Mothers house where the surrogates stay through their third trimester so the doctor can keep a closer eye. Many of the surrogates have done surrogacy several times, some willingly, others forced by their husbands. Each has their own feelings about carrying another woman's child. Amulya made sure to cover each emotion you would expect a surrogate to feel and she did a great job keeping you on your toes with concern about how Asha was in the end going to react to carrying Priya's baby and handing the baby over at the end of the pregnancy.
There are a lot of social/economic difference that come up between the women. For example, Priya feels the need to shower Asha and her family with gifts, this is more of an American way of thinking. At first Asha is thankful, then resentful and back and forth, Priya wants to call and talk to Asha while some of the other surrogates have no contact with the baby's families.
Overall it was a quick read that I found interesting throughout I liked getting a glimpse into a different culture. I assume the book is loosely based on a reality which I found fascinating and would like to research more. Sometimes we all sit in our comfortable bubble and forget there is an entirely different world out there with people living completely different lives than we are. I always enjoy a book that makes you think while still being entertaining, I definitely grew to love both main characters in the book though there were of course times when they were harder to love.
If you are looking for a quick, light yet thought provoking book I would suggest this one for sure.