American as Paneer Pie
Lekha, an Indian sixth-grader at a nearly all-white Michigan school, has been bullied as long as she has been there. Her parents and her only friend, Noah, are supportive but can do nothing. A new Indian girl, Avantika, moves to the neighborhood, and when she is bullied she stands up for herself. Lekha is shocked and uncomfortable but wishes she could do that. When Lekha makes the swim team, she hopes for acceptance but finds her teammates are cruel and xenophobic. Trying to fit in with the team, Lekha lies to friends and family, making her feel worse. A local politician bases her campaign on xenophobia, opening the door to a stunning act of cruelty. At the same time, a teacher makes an assignment that helps Lekha find her voice.
Author Supriya Kelkar has written an important and compelling story of middle-grade life and what kids face daily while introducing young readers to a rich and fascinating culture. A good glossary and pronunciation guide, perhaps with some drawings, would be a welcome addition. Readers may derailed by so many unfamiliar words, but otherwise this is a beautifully written, terrific story deserving wide readership.
|Page Count||320 pages|
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