In trendy Silicon Valley, Priya has everything she needs—a loving husband, a career, and a home—but the one thing she wants most is the child she’s unable to have. In a Southern Indian village, Asha doesn’t have much—raising two children in a tiny hut, she and her husband can barely keep a tin roof over their heads—but she wants a better education for her gifted son. Pressured by her family, Asha reluctantly checks into the Happy Mothers House: a baby farm where she can rent her only asset—her womb—to a childless couple overseas. To the dismay of friends and family, Priya places her faith in a woman she’s never met to make her dreams of motherhood come true.
Together, the two women discover the best and the worst that India’s rising surrogacy industry has to offer, bridging continents and cultures to bring a new life into the world—and renewed hope to each other.~Goodreads Summary
After reading The Water Knife I needed something happy to read. With it’s bright cover and the word “happy” right in the title I thought A House for Happy Mothers might be just what I needed. It wasn’t quite what I expected. While it did brighten up things for a bit after the dark that is Water Knife, this story had it’s own set of problems.
I have no children and to be fair I have never had to deal with the loss of a child. One of the main characters, Priya has had multiple miscarriages and has decided to outsource her surrogacy. Asha on the other hand has two children who need to be taken care of so she takes on the act of surrogacy to better their lives. It seems like it should be the meeting of each other's needs, and yet…
Throughout the story Priya is constantly being told that the women who are surrogates are doing this because they have no choice. They can either bear stranger’s babies or starve. The place they live in is not the worst place but it definitely isn’t what they deserve. Priya seems to be able to sweep this all aside with the notion that in India “things can always be better, and they can always be worse.” She does little things for the family and even makes a life changing decision for the family, claiming that it is the best thing for them. I can’t imagine the pain and struggles that must go on not only internally but also in a family when one is infertile. I don’t know the lengths that I would go to have a baby. I cannot judge the character for her choices but I can disagree with the author for the way she wrote the story.
Asha has little to no choice. Mothers will always do anything for their children, even sacrifice their bodies for a time. There have always been stories about surrogates who decide to keep their babies or young mothers who decide at the last minute to not put their children up for adoption. We are shown over and over again in this story, how Asha struggles with emotions behind carrying this child, that doesn’t belong to her but is a part of her.
The story is well written and I would recommend reading it. It is hard for me not to judge Priya for her choices and what she does to soothe her conscience. I feel sorry for Asha and can’t help but pity her and the way life has treated her. This is the perfect book for a book club because it will lead to a number of discussions, from surrogacy to poverty, and even social responsibility.
From her Goodreads page: Amulya Malladi is the author of six novels, including The Sound of Language and The Mango Season. Her books have been translated into several languages, including Dutch, German, Spanish, Danish, Romanian, Serbian, and Tamil. She has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s degree in journalism. When she’s not writing, she works as a marketing executive for a global medical device company. She lives in Copenhagen with her husband and two children.