I was lucky enough to get to read an ARC of Supriya Kelkar’s upcoming Middle Grade novel, AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE, this week.
You may remember Supriya and her Middle Grade debut AHIMSA.
Well, she’s back. This time with a contemporary novel set in the Midwest that’s sure to become a middle grade favorite.
An Indian American girl navigates prejudice in her small town and learns the power of her own voice in this brilliant gem of a middle grade novel full of humor and heart, perfect for fans of Front Desk and Amina’s Voice.
As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian.
When 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! Finally, there will be someone else around who gets it. But as soon as Avantika speaks, Lekha realizes she has an accent. She’s new to this country, and not at all like Lekha.
To Lekha’s surprise, Avantika does not feel the same way as Lekha about having two separate lives or about the bullying at school. Avantika doesn’t take the bullying quietly. And she proudly displays her culture no matter where she is: at home or at school.
When a racist incident rocks Lekha’s community, Lekha realizes she must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it’s too late.
A lovely, heart-felt story that does a brilliant job of looking at everything from friendship to racism from the very believable perspective of an eleven year old.
Lekha is a great middle grade heroine. She’s smart, funny, and trying so hard to both be herself and to fit in – at home, at school, and at swim practice – that the reader is pulled right into her story and can’t help but cringe and cheer along side of her. Her pain is easy to connect with, her missteps are real and oh-s0-relatable, and her triumphs are just the right size to make any reader see that growth, change, and forgiveness is possible.
Great supporting characters – including present and realistic parents – round out this story and make it one of my current favorites.
A must read!
- A easy-to-relate-to kid with real life concerns.
- Great friendships (and believable rivalries).
- A smart, funny, and engaging handling of some big topics.
- True-to-life examples of racism (macro and micro), including classroom-level aggressions from kids and adults.
- A couple fun lesson ideas (an Op-Ed assignment and cooking assignment) that would work great in any classroom.
AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE releases May 12, 2020, but is available for