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Stories of Celebration and Community by 11 Desi Voices

edited by Hena Khan ; illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat

Pub Date: April 23rd, 2024
ISBN: 9780316450634
Publisher: Little, Brown

Eleven authors tell interconnected stories about identity and belonging in their South Asian American New Jersey community.

Each story revolves around an event at the bustling Maple Grove Community Center, a hive of cultural activities, celebrations, tournaments, and sporting events. In Mitali Perkins’ “Smile Number Seven,” Steven, an adopted boy with special needs, wants his mother to be his badminton partner. In “Out in the Open,” by Rajani LaRocca, student journalist Veda holds up a mirror to her family, forcing them to recognize the unfair burden they put on her mother. Duaa, in N.H. Senzai’s “Answered Prayers,” uses her technical savvy to save the day at a fundraiser. And, in “The Map of Home,” by Sayantani DasGupta, Munia and her band challenge racism. These middle schoolers with varied interests create a wonderful mosaic representing a diverse community. Readers learn that the community center is in danger of being shut down because some people oppose both its activities and “the people who use it.” The stories explore the idea of who belongs and examine thorny issues, including gender roles, domestic violence, and racism. Though the stories only feature characters of Indian or Pakistani heritage, there’s a richness of regional representation (including Gujarati, Maharashtrian, South Indian, and Bengali), as well as religious diversity (such as Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Sikh). Families with single and divorced parents, multigenerational households, and blended families also appear. Final art not seen.

A multifaceted celebration of a vibrant American community.

(author bios) (Anthology. 9-12)