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Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood: The Exciting Story of How I Met My Father [Kindle Edition]

Varsha Bajaj
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

What thirteen-year-old Abby wants most is to meet her father. She just never imagined he would be a huge film star—in Bollywood! Now she’s traveling to Mumbai to get to know her famous father. Abby is overwhelmed by the culture clash, the pressures of being the daughter of India’s most famous celebrity, and the burden of keeping her identity a secret. But as she learns to navigate her new surroundings, she just might discover where she really belongs.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5–8—Thirteen-year-old Abby Spencer longs for excitement in her happy but uneventful life as a middle schooler in Houston, Texas. After she has a severe allergic reaction to coconut, Abby finds the excitement for which she has been waiting. Needing details about Abby's inherited medical history, her mother contacts the girl's father for the first time in more than 13 years. Soon after, Abby finds herself traveling to India on a whirlwind trip to meet him—a Bollywood film star—for the first time. If not for the Indian setting, Abby Spencer would be a typical, cute-but-nothing-special story of a young girl meeting her estranged father. Abby is a sweet, relatable character, but it's the lush backdrop that sets this book apart. The narrator describes the beauty and the extreme poverty of Mumbai. She feeds beggars and street dogs and reflects on her own day-to-day luxuries in comparison. She learns some Hindi words and phrases, tastes Indian foods, and spends a day on a Bollywood film set. A light, clean romance adds a second plot thread, but this story is mainly about the teen's exploration of her Indian heritage and the relationships between Abby and her parents. Pair with Narinder Dhami's Bollywood Babes (Random, 2006) or Kashmira Sheth's Boys Without Names (HarperCollins, 2010).—Leigh Collazo, Ed Willkie Middle School, Fort Worth, TX


"There's some fun in Abby's first-class travel, budding romance, and dream-come-true scenario of one's unknown parent turning out to be a celebrity. . ." The Bulletin of The Center for Children's Books, April 2014

"Abby is a sweet, relatable character, but it's the lush backdrop that sets this book apart. The narrator describes the beauty and the extreme poverty of Mumbai." School Library Journal, April 2014

". . .readers will want for Abby what she wants for herself--to find her place in her two families--and should be touched and satisfied by the story's ending. . . this story showcases the glamour and grit of Mumbai and gives readers an entertaining glimpse of backstage Bollywood." Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2014

"Abby's extravagant travels and first romance are enough to satisfy and amuse." Publishers Weekly, January 10, 2014

Product Details

  • File Size: 499 KB
  • Print Length: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (March 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #594,023 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get to Know Abby Spencer...You'll love her! March 5, 2014
Mera naam Russell hai. Oh! Forgive me. I was just practicing my Hindi. Varsha Bajaj’s delightful novel Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood is filled with Hindi phrases that could come in handy someday—like when you finally get to the Taj Mahal or your new best friend in school is an Indian foreign exchange student. But lest you think that ASGTB is just a language lesson, I can quickly dispel that idea. Bajaj’s novel is a cleverly told tale with a smart, quirky, precocious heroine, Abby Spencer herself. Abby is a thirteen year old with her own life soundtrack playing in her head, a perfectly wonderful personal curse word (that has not even a touch of profanity attached,) a zest for life, and a sense of humor that is totally refreshing. Bajaj has created a character with a voice that is distinctive and highly entertaining. And Abby propels a story that is inventive and instructive. Besides learning a bit of Hindi, the reader gets lessons in the rich history and culture of India. And they are far from being dry and boring. The novel is an answer to a question that many single parent children must often ask: What if my father, whom I’ve never known, is someone who is quite important in a profession that sets him apart from 99.99% of the rest of the world? Author Bajaj answers that question with so much fun! Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood should be on everyone’s reading list, especially young girls and those who love them. Read it, yaar!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a fun book February 10, 2014
By Sharif
Abby Spencer has never met her father. What she knows is that her American mother dated him in college, he went back to India, and his mother tried but couldn’t get in touch with him there. When Abby has an allergic reaction that might be hereditary, she and her mother try harder to reach him. He’s been elusive because he’s been going by a stage name. He’s now Naveen Kumar, big Bollywood superstar and heartthrob.

Soon Abby is on a plane to Mumbai to meet her estranged father, who had no idea about her existence. She’s wowed by the people, the city, and her famous father and his films. How do they break it to the public that he has a daughter? Will Abby be able to keep this secret until that time comes?

This was a fun, light read. I loved Abby’s voice, her real feelings about family, and her enthusiasm about India and her father’s side of the family. I’m sure the middle grade audience will adore this book. I read this via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cute with substance March 5, 2014
Abby Spencer doesn't know her father. She knows the story of how her parents went separate ways after college - with him going all the way back to India - and her mother's attempts to contact him failed. But when she nearly dies from a surprise allergy, she and her mom know that it's time to contact him, if only to get his medical history.

Abby Spencer also doesn't know that her father is India's biggest movie star.

ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD is a Cinderella story wrapped up in a story about experiencing a new culture with a delicious cherry-on-top of complex family relationships. There's joy, there's frustration, there's sadness that communication never happened earlier. ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD is a super fun book, but it's not afraid to get real. Especially not when it comes to the viciousness of the paparazzi. (Strangely timely, considering current efforts in the US to prevent paparazzi from taking photos of celebrity's children.)

From the cover, I thought that ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD was a YA novel. However, Abby is thirteen and this is firmly middle grade territory. I do think that the cover means that an older teen reader won't be afraid to carry it around without shame. As it is middle grade, what little romance is included is sweet and pretty chaste. I thought it was cute and added to the story without taking away from the family drama.

I recommend ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD to readers interested in non-nuclear families, modern Indian culture, and anyone who has ever dreamed that their parent was a movie star all along.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously fun August 8, 2014
SO MUCH FUN! After spending her first thirteen years with no knowledge of her father, Abby discovers that he not only wants to be her dad after all, but he's pretty much the king of Bollywood - and of course she's flown out to meet him! It's a delicious fantasy, but what made me love it was the warm heart at the center of the story. I loved Abby, her exuberance, her sense of fun, and her deep vulnerabilities, too. I loved the adults in the story, too, with their complicated relationships. What happened between her parents was deeply frustrating and in some ways tragic, but there were no out-and-out bad guys in their story, and that made it so much more interesting. The writing style didn't always work for me, personally, but the storytelling was AMAZING - I was so gripped by it, from the first moment that Abby asked her mom about the story of her dad, I just could not stop reading! I devoured it. I'd love to read a sequel, just because the characters and situation are so much fun, but really, I'll happily read whatever Varsha Bajaj writes next. A fabulous discovery!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tween Fun February 5, 2014
By VCarter
When thirteen-year-old Abby's teacher poses the essay question, What do you want the most, Abby lies and writes excitement, but what she really wants is to meet her father. In a twist of coconut-allergy fate, she ends up getting both in one person--a dad who's a Bollywood mega-star heart-throb! After recovering from her emergency trip to the hospital, Abby travels to India to meet the dad she's never known, and in an unexpected bonus, she meets a boy who might be her very own heart-throb. The larger culture clash of an American girl finding her Indian roots is set amidst another clash--between India's extremely wealthy citizens and those who live in the direst poverty. And while Abby learns about India, her superstar dad must learn what it means to be a father. ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD is a sweet adventure about finding family--those who are related to you and those you pick up along life's journey.
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