Meet Me in Mumbai

Scholastic/PUSH. Sept. 2022. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338749281.
Gr 9 Up–Ayesha is a Muslim student sent by her parents from Mumbai, India, to Bloomington, IL, for her senior year to better her chances of attending Northwestern University. While she stays with her mom’s cousin, Salma Aunty, she makes white friends at school but feels lonely for home. When she meets fellow Indian Suresh at a party, she finds comfort in his familiar accent and love of all things Bollywood. As they quickly develop a romantic relationship, Ayesha finds her grades slipping. The pressure of being the oldest daughter means she can’t mess up with grades or anything else. While Suresh is in Mumbai visiting his ailing father, Ayesha discovers she is pregnant and feels she must keep it a secret from her family. Eighteen years later, Mira is searching for information about her birth mother. Although she loves the two white moms who adopted her, she wants to know more about her Indian roots. She stumbles upon a box containing some of Ayesha’s belongings, which include loving letters and an invite to meet her at a fountain in Mumbai on her 18th birthday. Ayesha and Mira are both sympathetic and reflective characters facing major decisions at the same age. The writing is candid with an atmospheric tone that crosses both place and time. The ending seems a bit rushed with character interactions but provides a satisfying conclusion.
VERDICT The dual narratives of Ayesha and Mira provide readers with a contemplative juxtaposition recommended for high school teens.

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