The lives of two families in Baltimore, Washington, are irrevocably changed on August 15 1997, when two Korean baby girls are delivered.

Meanwhile, Iranian couple Sami and Ziba Yazdan receive their little bundle, Susan, quietly without much fuss.

The Yazdans and Donaldsons have next to nothing in common, yet their bond through the babies brings them together year after year as they celebrate the girls' Arrival Day with more and more elaborately competitive parties.

In Digging To America, Anne Tyler accurately observes the big and small differences between the two cultures, from the everyday way they prepare tea and bring up their children, to the broader topics of dealing with outsiders and helping them in their ultimate struggle to belong. Finding that elusive sense of belonging is the main theme that dominates the novel, with Sami's Iranian-born widowed mother, Maryam, being the main mouthpiece. This veers close to Tyler's own life, as her former husband is Iranian-born psychiatrist Taghi Modarressi.

Digging To America is a bit of a slow burner. Think of it as a soap opera but forget about drama and action. It takes a little time to get into it but Tyler soon maintains her usual vice-like grip as the reader gets further drawn into the intricate web that make up the two familie's lives.

Shereen Low