Author: Zadie Smith
I love this book. It's amazingly complex and brilliant. I'm still a bit surprised that it is Smith's first novel. It's so layered and well thought out, which is something I rarely see in first novels. I will be reading more of her work in the future because it is so well done.
White Teeth is told in third person and chronicles the relationships between two families, the Iqbals and the Jones. Both families are immigrants to England. The parents are like many immigrant parents. They are raising their children the best they know how in a country that they aren't truly familiar with, without forgetting their own respective cultures. A lot of the time it seems as if the kids are trying to raise themselves without any thought to their parents other than to get away from them. Each character's past, family history and motivation is covered in insane detail. There are things divulged that aren't expected but perfectly explain each families little insanities, the same way that people explain the slight lisp they have because their great whatever had pronounced teeth that caused them to mispronounce certain words (i.e. So-and-so does this because her great-so-and-so did that).
Usually, I can read a book and pick a favorite character but I couldn't pick one here. I feel Samad's pain and desperation with his marriage and strong willed kids. I respect Aslana's undeterred love for those same kids no matter how it affects things between her and Samad. I'm very glad that Archie isn't as bumbling as he is painted out to be and his wife, Clara isn't as self-absorbed and flitty. I anguish over the twins and my heart breaks for Irie. I felt like I knew everyone so intimately that picking a favorite character would be like picking a favorite relative. Sure, there are the ones that get on your nerves but you like them all in vastly different ways and choosing would be pointless.
The only reason I didn't give it a five is because somewhere in the plot twists, the story got a little lost. Characters pop up and disappear and every once and awhile I had to go back to a previous chapter figure out who a person was and why they carried such significance.
I was planning on reading On Beauty next but it just feels like a little too much Zadie Smith at once. I'm going to give myself some time to digest White Teeth.