Author: Anuradha D. Rajurkar
Publication Date: March 9, 2021
A luminous story of a young artist grappling with first love, family boundaries and the complications of a cross-cultural relationship. Perfect for fans of Sandhya Menon, Erika Sanchez and Jandy Nelson.
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, desperately trying to fit into her world, no matter how high the cost. When a twist of fate leads Rani from Evanston, Illinois to Pune, India for a summer, she has a reckoning with herself–and what’s really brewing beneath the surface of her first love.
American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar is an enlightening story about an Indian teenager secretly dating a white boy and trying to fit in. This is a great story of individuality and fitting in. Rani is a high schooler focused on her secret boyfriend which causes her to stray away from her family and friends. She is put in uncomfortable situations and has to figure out how to deal with them. When Oliver starts calling her an Indian princess and making questionable decisions Rani has to decide what she will do. Rani isn’t allowed to date and her parents would definitely not approve of her boyfriend. Rani grows up in a culture very different than mine, so I found it enlightening to hear her story. Family is important to Rani, so it is hard for her to go against her family’s wishes. I also found it very interesting that Rani’s best friend, Kate, is white and seeing how she fits in with Rani’s family. Kate’s reaction to everything going on with Oliver was interesting. Kate was a great friend to Rani throughout everything. Difficult issues like drug use are discussed in American Betiya. Rajurkar does an excellent job bringing the reader inside Rani’s perspective to think and feel like her. There were many situations that I was angry with while reading that I might not have even realized in person. I recommend American Betiya for anyone interested in an entertaining novel about teens and Indian culture.
Thank you Books Forward, Random House Children’s/Knopf Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for American Betiya.
About the Author
Anuradha D. Rajurkar is the national recipient of the SCBWI Emerging Voices Award for her contemporary debut novel, American Betiya. Born and raised in the Chicago area to Indian immigrant parents, Anuradha earned two degrees from Northwestern University, and for many years had the joy of being a public school teacher by day, writer by night.
Nowadays, when she’s not writing or reading, you can find Anuradha exploring the shores of Lake Michigan with her family, obsessing over her garden, watching old horror flicks with her sons, eating too many baked yummies, or roguishly knitting sweaters without their patterns. She hopes her stories will inspire teens to embrace their unique identities and inner badass despite outside pressures and cultural expectations. American Betiya releases on March 9, 2021 by Knopf Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House.