Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman

Tara's bat mitzvah is coming soon and she is preparing for it along with some of her friends and a couple non-friends.  One problem Tara faces is that she is both Jewish and Indian and some people are questioning whether she is actually Jewish at all.  Tara herself isn't sure if she should be going through with this ceremony when she doesn't have unquestioning faith.  In order to express her Indian side, Tara wants to wear a sari that has been in her family forever.  But she might have lost her chance to do so when she accidentally ruins it by burning a hole in it and throwing coffee on it.  And the problems keep coming with one of her best friends who now seems to want to take their relationship to the next level.  Tara doesn't know how to deal with any of this!

This is not deep book meant to leave the reader emotional, but it is good at what it does.  There are very few books dealing with Judaism - or really with any religion at all - so it's great that Tara's faith is such a big part of this one.  And what's more, her religion is not the sole point of the book hitting the reader over the head.  It is nicely woven in as just another part of Tara's life as she struggles to integrate all the things that are confusing her right now.  The relationship with Ben-O also rings true for middle school.