Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Yay for YA: My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, by Paula J. Freedman

I think that getting back into reviewing books with one of the best contemporary preteen books I've read in a while is a good way to do this.

Checkouts: Not owned by either library ... yet
Typical reader: Preteens or teens interested in contemporary coming-of-age books, have ties to either ethnicity/religion portrayed in this book, or are attracted by the quirky, catchy title
Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Snowbound Books (It came out last October.  I'm behind in my reading.)

Synopsis: Tara Feinstein, an Indian-Jewish-American preteen girl living in New York City, is preparing for her bat mitzvah.  Being multicultural, she's not sure in how she fits in to either her mom's Indian culture or her dad's Jewish one, or what exactly she even believes.  Adding to her worries are the fact that her best friend Rebecca is spending more time with a snobbish girl from both their middle school and Hebrew school, and her other best friend Ben-O may or may not like her as more than a friend.  Oy vey!

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading this book.  Ever have a book that you're reading, that's so good that you slow down and try to drag out the last few chapters so it will last longer?  This book was like that for me.

It's well-written.  The dialogue and internal monologue are realistic and believable.  There was a decent balance of description - not so little that it would turn me off, and not too much for a preteen reader.  Characters are well-rounded.  The plot and subplots are interesting, yet resolvable by the end of the book.

And best of all, it has a glossary.

Don't worry, I am kidding when I say that a glossary is the best thing about a book.  But it helps!  Hardly anyone is going to be familiar with all the Yiddish, Hebrew, and Hindi words, much less the blended ones.  The glossary is also seasoned with the humor of the protagonist, making it part of the enjoyable read.

I'd be hard-pressed to nitpick and find little flaws with this book.  Sure, it's not perfect - nothing is - but this is really darned good.

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