"Four decades separate Sonia Nadhamuni and Judy Blume’s Margaret Simon, but these feisty, funny offspring of Jewish interfaith marriages are sisters under the skin. Perched on the uncertain cusp of adulthood, each grapples with perplexing cultural identity issues, but in very different worlds. While Margaret’s grandparents pressure her to label herself as they wish, it’s Sonia’s peers who expect her to define herself racially and culturally. Having a nominally Hindu, Indian-immigrant dad and Jewish-American mom wasn’t a big deal until her father lost his job. Now Sonia must leave her comfortably small private school behind and—with Dad sinking into clinical depression and Mom taking on more work—chart her own course at Maplewood Middle School. Where does she fit? With the cheerleaders like pretty, blonde Kate or the bussed-in, city kids like Alisha, who’s writing a novel? Sonia’s the only cheerleader not invited to Peter Hanson’s birthday party. Is racism the cause? As in real life, her challenges don’t come neatly compartmentalized; Sonia will have to work out her mixed-heritage identity while contending with stressed-out parents, financial woes and vexing social uncertainties. Multifaceted characters, especially Sonia—astute, observant and original—provide depth. Like Blume, Hiranandani resists simplistic, tidy solutions. Each excels in charting the fluctuating discomfort zones of adolescent identity with affectionate humor."
From Publishers Weekly:
"Just before fifth grade ends, life is sweet for Sonia. She loves the alternative private school that she attends with her best friend Sam, where her half-Jewish, half-Indian background is simply accepted. But when her father loses his job and Sonia must attend public school in the fall, life gets complicated. Sonia’s new school is more racially divided than her old one, and when her racial identity is questioned, she realizes she has never considered what the answers might be. She’s taken in by a group of girls who try out for the cheerleading team, something Sonia comes to love but that doesn’t fit with her self-image. Hardest of all is the depression her father falls into, despite finding a new job. In Hiranandani’s debut novel, Sonia’s struggles are painfully realistic, as she wrestles with how to identify herself, how to cope with her family’s problems, and how to fit in without losing herself. True to life, her problems do not wrap up neatly, but Sonia’s growth is deeply rewarding in this thoughtful and beautifully wrought novel."