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Pashmina Paperback – October 3, 2017
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"Chanani masterfully turns the complex immigrant narrative into a magical and captivating work of art." ―New York Times
"Chanani’s debut graphic novel is a charming blend of fantasy and reality with a feminist twist." ―Washington Post
"In this spectacular debut graphic novel, a young woman searches for the truths of her past." ―Teen Vogue
“Colorful and deeply personal, Pashmina illuminates the experience of an Indian-American teenager and invites us to contemplate the power of our choices.” ―Gene Luen Yang, national bestselling author of American Born Chinese
"Pashmina is filled to the brim with magic and heart.” ―Victoria Jamieson, author or Roller Girl
"Most impressive is the way Chanani keeps the story’s distinct and fascinating plot elements spinning. One work can’t represent a whole subcontinent, but readers will come away with a living sense of a small part of it―and characters to care about." ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This dazzling blend of realistic fiction and fantasy is perfect for fans of characters who have to overcome obstacles on their way to growing up." ―School and Library Journal, starred review
"An original graphic novel written and illustrated by an Indian-American creator, this is both a needed contribution and a first-rate adventure tale." ―Kirkus
"Chanani’s debut is a lively, engaging exploration of culture, heritage, and self-discovery." ―Booklist
About the Author
Nidhi Chanani was born in Kolkata, India, and raised in Southern California. She holds a degree in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She creates illustrations that capture the love in everyday moments. In 2012 she was honored at the White House as a Champion of Change for her art. Her illustrations are sold in boutiques along the West Coast and she's worked with companies like Disney and Hasbro. Nidhi lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, daughter, and two cats. Pashmina is her first graphic novel.
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At home Pri's mother refuses to answer questions about her father. When she finds out that her uncle Jatin and his wife are expecting a new baby, Pri isn't sure what that will mean for their relationship. Nervous that she is being displaced, Pri prays to Shakti.
Pri is guilt-ridden and terrified that her prayers have been answered in the worst way when baby Shilpa is born premature. She finds unexpected comfort in one of her mother's old pashmina shawls. Wrapped up in the shawl Pri is transported to a colorful and vibrant vision of India that only furthers her interest in the country and her mother's past.
When Pri's mother surprises her with a trip to India she is thrilled to have the chance to visit and meet her mother's sister. Arriving in India is thrilling and offers so many new experiences but as Pri explores more of the country and learns more about her family, she realizes that the visions from the shawl are far from the truth in Pashmina (2017) by Nidhi Chanani.
Pashmina is Chanani's debut graphic novel.
Chanani's artwork is whimsical and carefully detailed. The comic uses color to draw a neat contrast between Pri's real life which is shown in pale neutrals and her fantastical visions of India that are vibrant in rich colors reminiscent of the cover art.
Although Pri is around sixteen (one plot point involves Uncle Jatin teaching her to drive), she reads much younger as a character--something that is also reflected in the story making this feel more like a middle grade story than one about a girl in high school. Some aspects of the plot remain vague (how Pri can travel to India on such short notice for instance) but these pieces do little to diminish the effect of the whole. The plot stops short of exploring some of the more complicated issues like the sometimes strained relationship of Pri's aunt and uncle in India, although overall this comic is nuanced and thoughtful.
Pashmina is a clever story brimming with positivity. Chanani blends fantasy elements well with accurate and honest portrayals of Pri's life as the child of an Indian immigrant as well as the hardships, cultural heritage, and beauty that can be found in India.
I wasn't a huge fan of the whole secrecy over India but that's more of a personal preference as I grew up on stories about my parents living in MX and their hardships. Versus in this book Priyanka's mother hardly ever wanted to speak to her about the topic
Aside from a story of discovering her roots, Pashmina also touches on topics like bullying, being a first generation American, the clash between cultures and generations, and language struggles (among other things). We also get a glimpse of how different it is in India and what matters out there (versus what we think matters)
Definitely a book I recommend for people with mixed heritage
I think that this is one of those graphic novels. Nidhi Chanai uses magical realism to tell the story of a young girl who wants to know more about her mothers past and where she came from, the Pashmina scarf is her way to see India in all of its splendor. But when she gets the chance to visit India, she learns that while, yes, there are beautiful bits, you have to take everything in context. India is gorgeous through the lens of the Pashmina but India in real life, while still beautiful has some flaws.
Priyanka, the main character, learns a lot about her heritage from these trips with the Pashmina, and from her visit with an aunt. The tale is heartwarming and reflective and for those of us who have never experienced India, it is a good way for us to learn about the culture and its difference from living in the US and how people that are coming from these backgrounds do things a certain way for a reason.
The book also includes a glossary in the end of words used that non-Indian readers will find very helpful. Overall, I think this book is wonderful for SO many reasons, if you have a young reader, reluctant reader, or one that likes to learn about cultures, this is definitely a book to grab.