cover image A Place at the Table

A Place at the Table

Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan. Clarion, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-358-11668-4

When 11-year-olds Elizabeth and Sara meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, they don’t immediately hit it off. Pakistani-American Sara is anxious about her family’s finances and upset about starting sixth grade at a big public school instead of the private Islamic one she’s always attended, while Elizabeth, who is Jewish, worries about her British mother’s depression and her old best friend replacing her. When the girls become cooking partners, though, they embark on a cautious friendship with some realistic bumps: Elizabeth fails to stand up for Sara when a classmate makes racist comments, and Sara quickly tires of Elizabeth’s lack of knowledge about Muslim life. Despite these occasional clashes, the pair become close, entering a cooking contest with an ingenious British-Pakistani fusion recipe and setting their mothers up to study for their U.S. citizenship tests together. Told in alternating voices, Faruqi and Shovan’s nuanced tale about the thrill of budding friendship is relatable without sacrificing challenging topics, such as casual racism and financial difficulties. Ages 10–12. [em]Agents: (for Faruqi) Kari Sutherland, Bradford Literary; (for Shovan) Stephen Barbara, InkWell Management. (Aug.) [/em]