Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2017
Publisher: First Second Books
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, India, Magic, Family, Religion
Pashmina tells the story of an Indian-American girl who struggles to fit in at high school, then discovers more about her family’s history with the help of her mother’s magical pashmina.
A graphic novel with an Indian American teenager who wants to know more about her country, family and culture? The day I say no to diverse stories will never, ever come.
Priyanka lives in the US with her mom who left India when she was her age. Priyanka knows little about India, and when her mom does tell her about the life girls live there and how they have less choices than in the US, Priyanka thinks she’s exaggerating.
Ms. Chanani created a realistic teenage heroine other teenagers will understand well and hopefully be able to connect with. I enjoyed reading about her adventures and think her character development deserves recognition. Definitely.
But I must say Priyanka’s worst weakness is that she keeps most of her feelings inside. Like the time her teacher asked her to enter her comic in a competition, she immediately declined because she doubted herself, but she never really explained her refusal. Or when she was sad about her uncle having a baby. I understood she was scared they would spend less time together, and she wouldn’t have a father figure anymore, but she never talked about her feelings to anyone or even to herself.
I came out to that conclusion because I’ve read many YA stories before, and I’ve began to read people well… Plus I myself have no father, so there’s no way I would have missed that. But the author needed to make it clearer. And how the hell did no one notice Priyanka’s sadness at the mention of the baby? They’re supposed to be her family. It’s really unrealistic no one stopped to look at her miserable expression and ask what is wrong.
The best parts were when the setting switched from US to India and we started to visually experience it. The illustrations are very pretty. I can totally imagine this becoming an animated film or TV series for kids. It should have been longer I believe, so we could see more of India. It’s the story that makes me want more though, so it succeeded in making me curious about life in India, which was one of the author’s goals I’m sure. Nicely done. Quite an original concept too.
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