cover image The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen

The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen

Mitali Perkins. Joy Street Books, $16.99 (179pp) ISBN 978-0-316-69943-3

Sunita Sen, the eighth-grade heroine of this disarming first novel, is sure that her grandparents' protracted visit from India will ruin her social life. She wants only to be normal--but her mother, the college teacher, has traded in her wardrobe of tailored suits for a succession of sarees, and Sunita can no longer invite boys over. Torn between her love for her family and self-consciousness about their Indian traditions, Sunita walls herself off from everyone. Gradually, however, she learns to appreciate the possibilities of a cultural mingling. To Perkins's credit, this change occurs naturally and not as the direct result of any one conflict or event. Perkins combines her fresh, unaffected prose with moving bits of Indian poetry and lore, rendering this well-thought-out investigation of cultural identity doubly moving. Colorful material about Indian customs, language and religion is sturdily woven into a funny, honest and homespun story. Ages 8-12. (May)