From School Library Journal
Grade 6-8 - Growing up is difficult enough but especially so when a girl has less-than-perfect parents; the cutest boy in the world who once liked her falls for her confident, poised, and exotic cousin visiting from India; she's teased at school (and even hears the "N" word); and her parents want to leave beautiful Manitoba, Canada, for California. Maya's authentic voice presents her confused and confusing world and foreshadows the influence of Ganesh. This Hindu god with the head of an elephant, who for a few sweets comes to life and removes obstacles and illusions, allows her to see things as they really are. She learns to accept herself, which includes her Indian heritage and her parents' individuality. The Ganesh fantasy is incorporated with humor into the contemporary feel of the story, even though it is set in 1978. Details of the cultures and everyday life of both India and Canada are integrated seamlessly and readers will see themselves in the realistic characters. - Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at Washington DC Public Library
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Gr. 5-7. It is 1978 in Manitoba, Canada, and 13-year-old Maya walks a fine line between wanting to fit in and being curious about her Indian heritage. The first part of the book chronicles the dichotomy immigrant children often feel. On one hand, Maya attracts the attention of Jamie because of her exotic looks. On the other, she is humiliated by a boy who calls her "nigger" because she is the only dark-skinned girl in town. The story seems to proceed into familiar territory until Maya's cousin, Pinky, comes to visit from India and steals Jamie's attention. Suddenly (and uncomfortably), the book turns into a fantasy, with Maya praying to Pinky's statue of Ganesh the elephant god, who removes all obstacles for her happiness. Banerjee does a fine job of describing Maya's life and the people who inhabit it, so when the fantasy weakens the characters into caricatures of themselves, it's a disappointment. It's the universal longings for love and acceptance, particularized in Maya's experiences, that makes the better story. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved