Sixteen-year-old Susan Thomas finds herself starting high school in a totally new locale, having been relocated by her parents from India to Saudi Arabia to Canada. Her physician father has set up Susan and her mother in their new apartment and returned to Saudi Arabia, supposedly to finalize his job transition. Susan’s parents tell her the move is permanent, but her father delays time and again his move to rejoin them and the escalating tension between her parents adds to Susan’s anxiety about leaving behind her familiar school, her one best friend, and her old lifestyle.
Making friends is not easy for Susan, and she approaches her first day of school in Canada with some dread. Finding a place to sit in the cafeteria at lunchtime being the main challenge (as always) and being shooed away from the only spot she finds open, she heads outside to eat and be alone. Things gradually improve, particularly when bad-boy Malcolm notices her and sets his sights on her. Malcolm is recovering from a bad romance as well as dealing with father-son issues after the death of his mom from cancer and his dad’s remarrying. Malcolm smokes, talks back to teachers, cuts classes, but is smart and well-liked by his peers.
Expected to devote her time to studies and nothing else so that she can become a doctor! an engineer! and make her parents proud, Susan really just wants to go to art school because she loves to sketch. Malcolm’s not sure just what he will do when he finishes school, but he knows he wants to get away from his dad and he knows he wants to continue his relationship with Susan.
You get the picture? Here’s another Indian-Teenager-Meets-Western-Culture-and-Clashes-with-Parents book. There’s a niche among young adult readers for this type of book, to be sure, but it is predictably formulaic although very well-written. It reads quickly. Young adults will identify with the characters, who all exhibit growth and dawning self-awareness. Major problems are resolved or at least put on the path forward to being so. Religions are portrayed in a refreshingly positive manner, which is something you rarely find in YA literature. Offensive language and sexual references are minimal.
I’d buy this one for the library.
Categories: Addiction, Books We Recommend, Diversity, Dysfunctional Relationships, Immigrants, Navigating through High School, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Political Activism, Religion, Social Media