Book Review |A House for Happy Mothers, by Amulya Malladi

book reviews


House for Happy MothersI love reading novels where circumstances lump together people from entirely different backgrounds. Pardon the shoddy analogy, but it’s almost like putting together random fruits and seeing if they work as a smoothie (relevant: I’m hungry).

That’s what readers get in A House for Happy Mothers, by Amulya Malladi. After multiple heartbreaking miscarriages, Priya and Madhu decide it’s time to try something different. A relatively well-off couple, they decide to find a surrogate mother in India. Not only will this be a less expensive solution after their failed in-vitro fertilization, but they’ll be able to have an Indian woman carry their Indian child, and they’ll also financially help a less affluent family in the process.

It’s unclear how much of this is honest reasoning and how much is rationalization. The pendulum swings between the two throughout the book, allowing the reader to fully grasp the situation’s complexity.

On the other side of the world, Asha also wonders if she’s being exploited, or if she’s doing the honorable thing by earning money for her son’s schooling. Is this just her lot in life as an uneducated woman from a small village, or is she no better than prostitutes who sell their bodies in short-term transactions?

The rest of the book bounces between Priya, the hopeful mother to be, and Asha, the vessel for a child she increasingly resents. The book is about the lengths to which certain women will go for a child, but there’s much more to talk about. It’s about relationships, whether between mother and daughter, husband and wife, or surrogate and mother to be. Unexpectedly, what could have been a preachy book about poverty and exploitation became something more nuanced. As a result, A House for Happy Mothers is not dramatic, it’s just… honest. Author Amulya Malladi is just as honest about the pain of being barren as she is about the pain of carrying a child you know you cannot grow to love.

I enjoyed this book and honestly think it begs to be read for a vibrant book club. I can only imagine the discussions that could come from a book like this, as people decide whether or not the surrogates were being exploited. There are other questions that could be posed as well, perhaps about the sacrifices of marriage and motherhood, or the adoption vs. surrogacy.

Disclaimer: I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. But the cover’s so nice, my boyfriend probably would have had to hold me back had I seen it at the bookstore.

Read any books lately that forced you to look at issues in a new light? Put them in the comments, because I could use some enlightening reading.

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  1. […] A House for Happy Mothers, by Amulya Malladi: Keeping in line with the dual setting books, A House for Happy Mothers is split between California and India, allowing for the juxtaposition of the two locations. In order to tackle the complexity of international surrogacy, Malladi delves into the motivations of an Indian American couple and the poor Indian woman who births their child. Click here for my review.  […]


  2. […] A House for Happy Mothers, by Amulya Malladi […]


  3. […] Brown Books & Green Tea : Book Review | A House For Happy Mothers […]


  4. I’m definitely going to purchase this right now! Sounds great.


    1. I enjoyed it! It was well written and seemed to capture both California and India rather well ( as far as I know. I’ve never been to India)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I must say the book explores a very strong and heavy topic -surrogacy in India. glad you enjoyed the read. And yes!! great cover. Which book lover can pass by that one and not buy it?


  6. This sounds like a great read. I’m pleased to hear that it explores the issues of surrogacy in such a nuanced way, especially in Indian culture. I’m Sri Lankan, but according to my parents, adoption/surrogacy in South Asia was looked at as being unfavourable, so I can see why Asha agonises over her decision. Thanks for the review, I’ll be adding this to my list 🙂


  7. Great review! This does sound perfect for a book club selection!!! I may try an nominate this one at my book club. I find suragacy fascinating.


    1. Thanks for reading! My book club is mostly men who like nonfiction, but if I was a part of one with more women, I’d definitely nominate this one!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This sounds like something I would love! I always think it’s such a brave thing to choose to be on either side of surrogacy (the adoptive parent or the surrogate mother). I’ll have to put this on my book club list!


    1. I thought about your book club when I read it! Surrogacy has been something I’ve definitely thought about lately. I think I’d be a surrogate (for a friend or someone close) before I’d ever get a surrogate for myself. But this book absolutely showed me the motivations on each side.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve thought about what it might be like, but after having 3 of my own, I’m pretty sure it’s not for me. Brave, brave women.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve had this book on my TBR shelf for a few months, so I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it! It sounds like such a wonderful and necessary exploration of a very complicated situation. I think many people who haven’t been through the surrogacy process or known someone who has have pretty narrow views on the emotional complexity involved in such as decision (on both sides). Books like this are an important way to give people a window into a world they had only viewed at the surface, like a reflection on a lake that prevents us from seeing it’s depth. Thanks for the great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading. It’s an enjoyable read for that exact reason. Surrogacy is such a complicated issues, particularly when there are class dynamics at play!


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