This book isn’t normally something I would pick up. I was strolling through the Bay Area book festival a few weekends ago, taking a break from helping with the Creston booth, when the title caught my eye. I love to learn about other cultures and compare and contrast our differences, but being a southerner (now transplanted to the west coast), I had heard about girls who were “expected” to marry doctors or “marry well,” back home. I just never knew other cultures had this expectation too.
Good Girls Marry Doctors was different than I was expecting. This is a book of individual essays telling the experiences of young girls who are born in the United States, but are expected to adhere to their parents rules and restrictions that may or may not conform to those of Americans. I was expecting to read a book with tales of helicopter parenting, instead, essay’s full of questioning and truth revealed that I as a white American have never experienced, are what I got.
Girls talking about the pressure put on them to either become a doctor, or to marry one may be the primary focus, but there are other details that are unseen from an outward appearance that these girls have had to face, such as, telling their parents they are bisexual/gay and having their parents completely disregard the statement and act like it’s not true, or worse telling them to keep it a secret and marry a man anyways. This was a big topic that shocked me. I had to read paragraphs several times to understand just what was going on with these families. Another shocking issue was that of girls who marry past the age of 25, parents and families practically beg men to marry them, because all of their lives they have “groomed” their daughter for marriage and “prepared” her, only to have her refuse and then the age of 25 comes and they are looked at as an “old maid.” Families get so desperate that if the “older” girl marries outside her culture, the families start to support her. Anything to get her married seems to be a running theme.
But then, there are stories of love. Parents and families who break free from expectations and support their daughters in every way possible. Dream parents. There are girls who are accepted for being gay or for marrying outside their religion or race, girls who go on to be in the arts not the sciences, and girls who marry for love. These stories lift you up, they show that everyone is different and parents are doing the best they can with the resources they have. These stories break the stereotypes that cultures put onto one another. They show strength and determination in a world full of followers, to break out and be the person you were made to be.
I loved this book. For opening my eyes to problems that are hidden from most, and teaching me things I never thought about. Not once did I want to put it down. If you have the desire to learn of another culture from true stories and not just a history book, I encourage you to give this one a try, and if you do, drop me a line and let me know what you think 😉