cover image Mira in the Present Tense

Mira in the Present Tense

Sita Brahmachari. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8075-5149-3

Originally published as Artichoke Hearts in the U.K., where it won the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Award in 2011, Brahmachari’s debut novel is worth the heartache it provokes. Londoner Mira Levenson, who’s of Indian and Jewish descent, gets her first period on her 12th birthday, the same day that her grandmother’s coffin shows up at the door; they plan to decorate it before Nana’s imminent death from cancer. Mira is generally introspective and bashful, but the instructor at a writing workshop encourages Mira to shed her self-consciousness and speak boldly. To Mira’s surprise, she has plenty to say—about her fellow writer and romantic interest Jidé, who narrowly escaped death in Rwanda; about her best friend Millie, whom she no longer confides in; and about her caring but often overwhelming family. Readers will enjoy watching Mira gather strength through writing in her diary and confronting her fears. While the story deals with the heaviness and “necessary heartbreak” of losing a close relative, Mira’s energetic voice reminds readers that inspiration and hope can be found in the everyday. Ages 9–13. (Sept.)