Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah {by Paula J. Freedman}

Title: My Basmati Bat Mitzvah
Author: Paula J. Freedman
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon; Barnes & Noble

During the fall leading up to her bat mitzvah, Tara (Hindi for "star") Feinstein has a lot more than her Torah portion on her mind. Between Hebrew school and study sessions with the rabbi, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to hang out with her best friend Ben-o--who might also be her boyfriend--and her other best friend, Rebecca, who’s getting a little too cozy with that snotty Sheila Rosenberg. Not to mention working on her robotics project with the class clown Ryan Berger, or figuring out what to do with a priceless heirloom sari that she accidentally ruined. Amid all this drama, Tara considers how to balance her Indian and Jewish identities and what it means to have a bat mitzvah while questioning her faith.

This book was really cute. Although it is labeled YA, it is more Middle Grade, which I don't usually read. But I'm glad I did. I originally requested it because of the multicultural background of the main character, and it did not disappoint. 

Tara is a twelve-year-old girl (or thirteen? Sorry, can't remember), just trying to make it through middle school. And if that isn't hard enough on its own, she's have an identity crisis. Her bat mitzvah is quickly approaching, and she's not sure if she wants one. In fact, she's not even sure she believes in God. 

Tara is a Jewish-Hindi mix, which is a very strange mix. But that means it's hard for her to decide. Is she Jewish? Is she Hindi? Does being one make her less of the other? These are hard questions for adults sometimes, much less a preteen girl.

Freedman did a very nice job of not getting too religious, as to get offensive. She didn't try to solve all of life's mysteries. Tara ends up deciding for herself in a way that really is just right for someone of her age. She explored the religious aspect of it enough to tell the story, but not so much that it was so in depth as if I was reading a religious studies report. 

Freedman also did a very nice job of getting into a middle school-ers POV. The little trivial things, that at the time, are really the biggest issues ever. Come on, I know we all remember that time. Tara is trying to figure out who she is, but also trying to figure out what is going on with her friends. Is Rebecca really becoming friends with that snob Sheila Rosenberg? Does the icky Ryan Berger really like her? And why is Ben-O acting so weird?

I can't say much for the Jewish side, but as an Indian, this had me laughing a lot. Freedman did a very good job of the way Indians act. It was very relateable, and quite hilarious :P Because, well, we Indians are kinda crazy ;) 

Although not usually my type of book, this was a very cute, fun book. I would definitely recommend it, especially if you're looking for a lighter read. 

I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

Paula J. Freedman

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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