I’m not sure if Year of the Asian Readathon 2021 is happening but I’m definitely on a Desi book reading jag. The next book I’m listening to is A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi so apparently my reading habit continue in this direction. But hopefully you’ll see plenty of diverse reviews this year with so many good books coming out by so many great authors.
As American as Paneer Pie
Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself. One where she can be her authenic Indian self the girl who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food. Then there is the girl she has to be at school, the girl who has to hide everything that makes her, her. Who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation, especially when she gets teased for being Indian.
Then a girl Lekha’s age moves in across the street, Lekha is excited to hear that her name is Avantika and she’s Desi too! Lekha is glad to have someone to this country who gets it, but as soon as she speaks Lekha realizes Avantika has an accent and is new to the country and not like Lekha at all.
Avantika and Lekha are different in other ways too. Avantika isn’t about to take the bullying she gets from the kids at school without speaking up for herself. She’s not about having two separate lives. She’s proud of her culture in a way Lekha’s never imagined showing
As the two become friends Avantika encourages Lekha to speak up, but when a racist incident rocks their community will Lekha find her voice in time tell those in her community what she truly cares about.
Comparisons have been made to Amina’s Voice. I love Amina’s Voice. But I love this too, and for different reasons. I really love the interaction between Avantika and Lekha. At first Lekha feels forced to hang out with Avantika because they are both Indian but as their friendship blooms they both find ways in which they need help being stronger. Lekha with speaking up and showing her true self at school, and Avantika with skin lightening, an issue I’m glad they addressed.
I’m also glad they addressed the peer pressure Lekha gets from her swim team. It’s very realistic and she deals with it in a very mature way.
Overall I’d give this book another 5/5, yay for South Asian books