Fans of Sandhya Menon, Erika Sanchez and Jandy Nelson will identify with this story of a young artist grappling with first love, family boundaries and her boyfriend's exoticization of her Indian heritage.
Rani Kelkar has never lied to her parents, until she meets Oliver. The same qualities that draw her in—his tattoos, his charisma, his passion for art—make him her mother's worst nightmare.
They begin dating in secret, but when Oliver's troubled home life unravels, he starts to ask more of Rani than she knows how to give, encroaching on her family and her culture. Their relationship is nearly at the breaking point, when a family tragedy draws Rani to India for a summer. There, she gains perspective on what it means to be true to herself and what that means for her and Oliver.
Winner of SCBWI's Emerging Voices award, Anuradha Rajurkar takes an honest look at the ways privilege and bias can twist an interracial relationship into something unrecognizable as love. Rani's journey to reclaim her identity will speak to anyone who's ever had to fight to be seen as more than a stereotype.
Put American Betiya on your TBR list!!
I am so incredibly thrilled that this magnificent, unforgettable #ownvoices novel will be published in 2020. What a journey it's been for Anuradha! She has put her heart, soul, tears, and joy into creating American Betiya, which won the SCBWI YA Emerging Voices Award. With a setting in Evanston, IL and India, readers will get a personal view into Rani's close-knit Indian family and Oliver, the boyfriend who desperately wants to fit into it.
This is a novel brimming with friendship, family, love, identity, sex-positive experiences, self-discovery, and self-esteem.
Standing ovation, Anuradha!
I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Rajurkar's novel, a vivid portrayal of the challenges of growing up between cultures and traditions, the torturous emotions of first love, and the extremely relatable teenage angst we all experience. Rajurkar's writing is pitch perfect, and anchored in sensory details that immerse you in Evanston and high school. The novel is a combination of silk saris and rubber-soled combat boots: the perfect balance of sensitivity and edgy toughness. Young readers and adults alike will enjoy this fascinating debut novel.
Beautifully written and completely heartfelt. Rani is a funny, lovable, searching protagonist. This book is a gem.