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Born Confused Paperback – July 1, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Born Confused Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this enlightening first novel, Hidier offers readers an engrossing, personal account of the Indian-American experience through the eyes of an insightful narrator. Dimple Lala, a New Jersey teen interested in photography, has been confused about her identity since she entered the world the "wrong way," causing her mother "twelve treacherous hours of painful labor." Her fascination with photography reveals Dimple's keen sense of perception as well as her role as an observer rather than a participant. "Not quite Indian, and not quite American," Dimple unsuccessfully tries to blend in, riding on the coattails of her blue-eyed, blonde best friend, Gwyn. The author nimbly describes the shared outsider status that drew together the two, "the rich little girl who lived like an orphan and the brown little girl who existed as if she were still umbilically attached to her parents." During Dimple's 17th year, however, the tables suddenly turn when Dimple's parents introduce her to Karsh Kapoor, the son of their close friends from India. Through their meeting, the author reveals Dimple's mother's own secret creative aspirations (to become a dancer in her youth) as well as another first-generation teen's attempt to straddle both cultures. When Gwyn becomes infatuated with Karsh, Dimple helps Gwyn become a suitable girlfriend for him, even as she gradually comes to admire Karsh herself. In the process, the heroine embarks on a journey of self-discovery. On one level, the book explores the growing pains, rebellious phases, peer pressures and first love experienced universally by teens. On a deeper level, it celebrates a harmonious blending of cultures as it traces one adolescent's bumpy trek towards self-actualization. If a few subplots take the main action on a slight detour (e.g., Gwyn's relationship with her high school-cum-college boyfriend, etc.), the sparkling prose will carry readers along. The author seamlessly integrates descriptions of Indian food, dress and customs, often spiced with Dimple's sarcastic commentary. But even as Dimple distances herself from her family's traditions, her sense of respect and genuine affection for her accomplished parents (both doctors) are never far from the surface. The author poetically captures the essence of her characters and the richness of seemingly insignificant moments. Absorbing and intoxicating, this book is sure to leave a lasting impression. Ages 13-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-Dimple Lala has spent her entire life trying to fit in. In India, she is too American, while in America she feels unable to conform, largely because of her parents' efforts to educate and involve her in Indian culture. By her 17th birthday, she feels incapable of making anyone happy and is hopelessly confused as to where she belongs. Her parents are unhappy about her obsession with photography and her dating activities, while Dimple herself feels that her best friend, Gwyn, is either ignoring her for a new boyfriend or trying to usurp Dimple's family. Her parents come up with what they think is a perfect solution-they introduce her to Karsh, a suitable boy. Dimple is turned off at the thought. Just when she is sure that things can't get more complicated, she meets him again, now involved in activities that would render him completely unsuitable to her parents but that interest her. By this time Gwyn decides that he seems like the perfect boyfriend for her and Dimple ends up with a number of tricky situations. This involving story, filled with detail about the protagonist's life and background, will reward its readers. The family background and richness in cultural information add a new level to the familiar girl-meets-boy story. Teens will be rooting for Dimple and her quest to find her own place in her family and country.
Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439510112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439510110
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,560,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

TANUJA DESAI HIDIER is an award-winning author, singer-songwriter, and innovator of the 'booktrack'. She is the recipient of the 2015 South Asia Book Award (for BOMBAY BLUES) and the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and her short stories have been included in numerous anthologies.

Her pioneering 2002 first novel, BORN CONFUSED, was named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and became a landmark work, recently hailed by both Rolling Stone Magazine and Entertainment Weekly as one of the greatest YA novels of all time (on lists including such classics as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, and Little Women).

The music video for "Heptanesia", Tanuja's first release from her album BOMBAY SPLEEN (songs based on Bombay Blues) is currently airing on MTV Indies. Her first album, WHEN WE WERE TWINS (songs based on Born Confused) was featured in Wired Magazine for being the first ever 'booktrack.' Wired says: " ... reminiscent of Alanis Morissette [When We Were Twins] reflects the clash of styles, sounds, and influences inherent to cultural assimilation and urban living."

For more info on Tanuja, please visit www.ThisIsTanuja.com

PRAISE FOR BORN CONFUSED
"Compelling and witty ... gives voice to a new generation of Americans ... a rare and daring portrayal." --USA Today

"Absorbing and intoxicating ... sure to leave a lasting impression."
--Publishers Weekly, starred and boxed review

"A breathtaking experience." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review

PRAISE FOR BOMBAY BLUES
"Dense, lyrical, full of neologic portmanteaus and wordplay: This is a prose-poem meditation on love, family and homecoming ... A journey worth making." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"[A] lovingly detailed homage to Bombay... Once again, [Desai] Hidier delivers an immersive blend of introspection, external drama, and lyricism." --Publishers Weekly

"Chock-a-block with musical references as well as linguistic leaps of faith that only a musician could have pulled off." --The Sunday Guardian (cover story)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a rare treat, in that it presents the life of a typical American teenager with an atypical life, is honest, but doesn't stoop to cliches and stereotypes to tell its tale. This is the story of Dimple Lala, a young woman, born and raised in New Jersey of Indian immigrant parents, who is turning 17 at the beginning of summer. Dimple rejects her parents old-world culture and wants to be an All-American girl, but everyone else sees her as Indian. For her parents, Dimple getting drunk once while out with friends on her birthday is cause for a silent treatment and punishment of international proportions. In one of my favorite lines from the book, Dimple's mother says, "Giving birth to you was easy. It is now that I am needing the epidural!"
Dimple, in comparison to her childhood friend, Gwyn, is positively a model child: a good student, a virgin who has only dated two boys, she doesn't do drugs or do anything out of the ordinary to cause her parents to worry. It turns out that both Dimple and her parents are failing to realize what they have: a caring, lovely family unit and a strong cultural background in Dimple's case, and a very good daughter, in the case of her parents. Dimple's friend, Gwyn, is beautiful and blonde and slim and the center of attention, but she comes from a home where she was abandoned by her father and ignored by her mother, and she craves the stability of Dimple's family unit, which, of course, Dimple does not understand, since she longs to be beautiful and blonde and free of parental restrictions.
Dimple's parents seek to control their daughter by introducing her to a "suitable boy" meaning, of course, another Indian boy, an NYU computer major, and the son of her mother's best friend.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Tanuja Desai Hidier has written an incandescent coming-of-age novel about a young Indian (as in South Asian)woman who learns to connect with her culture, her family, and most extraordinarily, herself. At the beginning of the story, Dimple is not all that different from many teens. She finds her parents frighteningly clueless and alien at times and her best friend Gwyn is a personality-plus beauty who is everything that Dimple thinks she isn't. Dimple wears her ethnicity barely skin-deep to the point that she doesn't even identify herself as Indian when she is surrounded by other Indians in a nightclub with Gwynn. Her parents "set her up" with a nice Indian boy at informal chai-drinking visit and it's dislike-at-first-sight for Dimple. But then Dimple runs into the suitable boy again as a DJ in a nightclub and she is smitten deep down. They have a heart-to-heart conversation but then trouble develops when Gwynn, her best friend, falls in love with him too. This book is so well-written that I was sorry when it ended. This is a writer who has the ability to make her characters so real that you feel that you know them. I hope that she writes many more novels as wonderful as this one is.
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Format: Paperback
The Indian American theme is one I find particularly fascinating, since I can relate periods of my own upbringing to it. Born Confused is worth a read. The author clearly has a way with words, and illustrates the main character, Dimple's, situation very well. At the same time, this is clearly a book that will resonate more strongly with girls than with boys. The language can often get overly flowery, and I found myself skipping whole pages when the character analyses seemed to be dragging on and on. Read it if you have time, but be prepared to be dropped a little deeper into a teenage girl's mind than you were prepared for.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first glanced at the summary of this amazing book, I thought that it was going to be another sappy teen romance with a twist of culture talk. A few short pages into the book, I was both surprised and hooked. The book focuses on the story of Dimple Lala, American born but with deep Indian roots. Her best friend is the "Marilyn Monroe for this generation" and each has something that the other finds irresistable. When Dimple's parents decide to find her a suitable Indian boy, it all goes downhill- not only is the boy suitable for Dimple, but her best friend sets her sights on him also. What is surprising about the book is that it is more about Dimple realizing that it is wonderful for her to be photo-taking self, expressing herself through her insightful photography. The story is as much about cross gender issues, cross-generational issues, how to deal with family and friends that seem both to close and to far away. It also exposes the insatiable american craving for the cultural traditions of other countries. While some parents might find certain elements unattractive, its difficult issues are presented with care and truth. I certainly would encourage both those who have difficulty fitting in, whatever culture they may hail from, as well as those who seem to find their place so easily because it truly is a book for everyone.
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By A Customer on November 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading this book of drama, confusion, enigma and struggle of a teenage Indian girl growing up in West. This book deals with a lot of issues such as teen romance, family dynamics, cultural clashes, and lesbianism. On one side heroine Dimple, wanted to follow the traditions of his parents and on other side she wants to follow what her peers in schoolcand college do. There are clash of ideas and concepts, which is very common in the life of every Indian child born and raised in the west. Indians born and raised in the west, see everything as mirage. Like Dimple, they wanted to follow parents' beliefs and at the same time, they are bombarded with beliefs totally contrary to what they are taught to home. May be one of the answers to the confusion young Indians face, is books like Am I A Hindu? which describes every minute details of eastern culture or precisely Hindu culture in Question & Answer format. Indian parents have to understand that their children are growing up in a world of thousand thoughts and ideas, different from what they believe. So ignoring the problems will only make matters worse. Born Confused? baffles and intrigues as you read through the pages. I highly recommend this book to every Indian who lives in the west young and old like.
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