cover image Debating Darcy

Debating Darcy

Sayantani DasGupta. Scholastic, $18.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-338-79769-5

An almost scene-for-scene reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, DasGupta’s (Force of Fire) YA debut centers two Desi protagonists in the high-stakes world of high school forensics. After encountering Netherfield Academy’s debater Firoze Darcy, a senior of Pakistani descent, public school speech phenom and theater nerd Leela Bose finds herself reeling from his dismissal. Standing in for the source material’s Bennet family, Leela’s multiethnic speech team tackles competitions instead of balls. Leela soon feels an easy kinship with Wickham analog Jishnu Waddedar—a debater and fellow Bengali from military academy Regimental, with whom she shares a cultural upbringing. But when Jishnu betrays Leela, first lying about his relationship to Firoze and then sexually harassing Leela’s teammate Lidia, the latter incident provides an opening for the teens to publicly address the misogyny that young women face on the circuit. Studded with references to U.S. and South Asian pop culture as well as Jane Austen–related Easter eggs, DasGupta’s astute, buoyant comedy of manners employs witty, rat-a-tat dialogue alongside social commentary about subjects including classism, colorism, and sexism. Ages 12–up. Agent: Brent Taylor, Triada US. (Mar.)