25 Jan / How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani [in Booklist]
The second of Veera Hiranandani’s novels with geneses in the award-winning author’s Indian Jewish family history is ideally paired with versatile Priya Ayyar. For Hiranandani’s The Night Diary, Ayyar persuasively drew on her own South Asian heritage. Here Ayyar ciphers Hiranandani’s maternally-inspired latest, channeling her own New York experiences (including NYU overlaps).
Ariel Goldberg is 11, the only Jewish girl in the sixth grade. Her parents left Brooklyn to own a Jewish bakery in Connecticut. Her adored older sister Leah seems virtually flawless – until she falls in love with the wrong person.
Their parents – despite being lifelong victims of anti-Semitism – refuse to accept an Indian immigrant into their family, but the 1967 Loving v. Virginia ruling allows Leah and Raj to elope and flee to NYC. Ariel is suddenly alone, but unexpected independence provides rewards as Ariel confronts the racist school bully, finds an advocate who addresses her dysgraphia and mentors her writing, grows a best-friendship with neighbor Jane, and maybe even manages to reunite her scattered family.
Ayyar affectingly projects girl power all the way through.
Readers: Middle Grade