Feroza Ginwalla, a pampered, protected 16-year-old Pakistani girl, is sent toAs a student in a small western town, Feroza's perceptions of
by her parents, who are alarmed by the fundamentalism overtaking America — and their daughter. Hoping that a few months with her uncle, an MIT grad student, will soften the girl's rigid thinking, they get more than they bargained for: Feroza, enthralled by American culture and her new freedom, insists on staying. A bargain is struck, allowing Feroza to attend college with the understanding that she will return home and marry well. Pakistan
realizes just how far she has come — and wonders how much further she can go. This delightful coming-of-age novel is both remarkably funny and a remarkably acute portrayal of
We first meet the parents, Zareen and Cyrus, a Pakistani couple who have sent their daughter to the
because Mom worried that daughter Feroza was being too influenced by fundamentalist Muslims in United States . In an effort to help her child find some western girl power, Zareen has sent Feroza to Pakistan . But once here, Feroza does more than find her voice; she learns how to roar. While living the American dream, Feroza decides to marry a nice American boy -- a nice American Jewish boy. This information comes to Zareen and Cyrus in the form of an innocent little letter that sends the entire family into a tizzy of fainting spells and prayer. The trouble is, the family is Zoroastrian, an ancient religion that does not allow girls to marry outsiders. If Feroza marries this non-Parsi boy, she will shame the entire family. Houston
As shaky as the news makes Zareen, she's a statue of calm compared to Mumma, Feroza's well-intentioned but very manipulative granny. Mumma insists that Zareen fly to American immediately to talk some sense into Feroza. So, with Cyrus's blessing, Zareen embarks on a journey that will change both her and her daughter's lives forever.
This is a long setup, filled with some predictable jokes about mothers-in-law and the shocking things that kids do these days, but all of it is handled with such joy by director Brad Dalton and his wonderful cast that even the stuff that feels fairly old hat comes off as entertaining.
Once Zareen gets to
, the story deepens quite a bit and the real power of Sidhwa's play opens up. Zareen discovers that her daughter has grown in ways the Pakistani mother could never have imagined. The first difficulty for Zareen is Feroza's living situation. She rooms with her fiancé David (Luke Eddy) and a girl named Jo. Zareen adores Jo (though she doesn't realize this lovely girl is a lesbian), but she barely speaks to David...at first. Houston
Ironically enough, after Zareen spends some time in
, she gets used to American freedoms. And despite her mission -- which is to break off her daughter's engagement -- the young man starts to grow on Mom. He even takes her shopping at the Galleria, where she buys pale pink hot pants, of all things. In fact, Zareen enjoys Houston and its freedoms so much that she starts to understand why her daughter has changed. It almost seems as if she will accept her daughter's choice. But then Cyrus and Mumma call from America to remind Zareen of what she's doing in Pakistan . America
And Feroza isn't the only one whose family is worried about her choices. Turns out David's bubbe isn't too happy with the fact that her grandson is planning to marry outside the faith, and she manages to stick her two cents into the equation. At the end of one particularly difficult evening, the young couple's future starts to look very dark indeed.