A GROUP OF ONE

Rachna Gilmore, Author . Holt $16.95 (196p) ISBN 0-8050-6475-3

A 15-year-old Canadian daughter of Indian immigrants gets embroiled in an inevitable clash of cultures in this skillful novel about loyalty, forging a sense of self, and history, both personal and political. Gilmore (Lights for Gita) effectively establishes the loving chaos of Tara's family—her feminist mother, who constantly experiments with new careers, hobbies and accents (with varying degrees of success); Tara's two younger sisters; and her distracted father. As the action opens, a teacher has riled Tara by asking her to name her "mother tongue"—and not accepting English for an answer. Shortly afterward, her father announces his mother will be paying an extended visit from India for the first time ever, plunging the family into a flurry of redecoration and her mother into pursed-lipped references to "Your Mother" and "Your Grandmother." Tension mounts as Tara learns the reasons for her mother's apprehension and, after her Naniji arrives, Tara vacillates between her allegiance to her mother and the riveting power of Naniji's stories about her experiences as part of Gandhi's Indian Independence movement. Gilmore is particularly adept at portraying the two formidable women and their relationship with each other; she similarly shines in conveying the laughter, love and also irritation of the distinctly individual sisters. Readers will embrace Tara as she stands up to her family and her school to bravely claim her own history and, along the way, reappraises her own assumptions. Ages 12-up. (July)

Reviewed on: 07/09/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
Genre: Children's
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