Chloe is not happy about leaving her shady, green Boston home for life in oppressively hot Delhi, India, especially since she stands out as the only blonde American in her grade.
While trying to cultivate the good graces of the it girl of her grade, the superrich, pretty, and snobby Anvi Saxena, Chloe is befriended by another new student: Lakshmi of the ill-fitting, hand-me-down uniform. Though the 11-year-old is painfully aware of the grade five hierarchy, there is something about Lakshmi that draws her in. Maybe it's her spunky dog or her sparkly eyes and sense of humor. Maybe it's that they share newness as well as a love of origami, climbing trees, and dancing. Whatever the reason, readers will cheer Chloe and Lakshmi's budding friendship, and they will also be cheered by nasty Anvi’s comeuppance. Whether describing the heat of a Delhi summer or the emotions of a homesick preteen in a strange land, Darnton gets the details right, bringing characters and story to life and also educating readers about the economic discrepancies rampant in India. While some may sigh that American Chloe is underdog Indian Lakshmi's only friend (and savior?) and that the vapid, mean, rich Indian girls are completely unsympathetic, this story is a worthwhile one.
Blonde American Chloe’s perspective gives Western readers a way into this tale of inequality in a foreign culture, mitigating some of the stereotyping. (Fiction. 9-12)