Thirteen-year-old Abby Spencer learns that the father she’s never met is a Bollywood superstar and travels from Houston to Mumbai to meet him.
Abby has been stonewalled by her pie-shop–owning single mother when she’s asked about her dad, but hereditary concerns about a bad allergic reaction bring the matter to a head. Rather incredibly, Abby’s father, Naveen Kumar—a really nice guy who just happens to be the Brad Pitt of India—immediately accepts the situation and invites her to come to Mumbai to meet him and his loving but ailing mother. Besides the establishment of the likable Abby’s mostly smooth relationship with Kumar’s household and entourage, the rest of the story involves Abby’s reaction to India, her nascent romantic relationship with handsome Shaan and her difficulty remaining mum about the fact that she’s Kumar’s daughter. Unfortunately, nice is great in a girlfriend, but for characters in a novel, spice is necessary, and there’s not enough of it in Bajaj’s pleasant but bland first-person cross-cultural tale. Nevertheless, readers will want for Abby what she wants for herself—to find her place in her two families—and should be touched and satisfied by the story’s ending.
Culturally intriguing but dramatically dry, this story showcases the glamour and grit of Mumbai and gives readers an entertaining glimpse of backstage Bollywood. (Fiction. 9-13)