cover image How to Find What You’re Not Looking For

How to Find What You’re Not Looking For

Veera Hiranandani. Kokila, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-525-55503-2

It’s 1967, and pale, curly-haired Ariel Goldberg, 12, doesn’t think much about current events; the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement are occurring only in her periphery as she focuses on Wonder Woman comics over social justice and politics. At school, sixth grader Ari struggles. Her mother believes her dysgraphia is just laziness, and her classmates bully her. As one of the few Jewish families in Eastbrook, Conn., the bakery-owning Goldbergs face anti-Semitism, though Ari sometimes doesn’t recognize or have the words for it. But after her beloved older sister Leah, 18, elopes with rising graduate student Raj Jagwani, a naturalized citizen from India, in the wake of the landmarkLoving v. Virginia ruling, Ari is jolted into action. Confronting her own, her family’s, and her community’s ingrained prejudices, Ari ultimately finds courage in poetry and public speaking. Inspired by Newbery Honoree Hiranandani’s parents’ interracial marriage in 1968, the narrative, conveyed with deftness and insight in the second-person perspective, explores the benefits and costs of assimilation and the complexity of being both white and a religious minority in America then—and now. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)