Saturday, June 24, 2017

Book Review: Pashmina by Nidhi Chanai (ARC)

I've recently joined a MG/YA tribe, #BookOdyssey, which among many other wonderful collaborative camaraderie - has granted me the opportunity to preview and visit with some wonderful ARCs!

The first of my #bookodyssey reads is thus the incredible Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani. I highly recommend you snatch this up when it's released October 3 (or pre-order!)

When it arrived I believe I squealed in delight as I eagerly dove right in! (My boyfriend could probably approximate the sound as he laughed and said, I know what you're doing tonight!).

Huge thank you to Gina from :01 First Second for the ARC and the sweet note! I can't wait to pass it on to fellow #BookOdyssey mates! #Sisterhoodofthetravelingbooks

Until then - here's what I want to share that I love most about Pashmina. 

First - the GRAPHICS!!! As a reader who generally struggles to make it through graphic novels, this one really hooked me in. While the narrative jumped a bit for me at times, the characters (Priyanka, namely) carried this story. I love how much we get to know her, and how the graphics truly did this with such concise precision in the emotions on her face (I mean, just check out this mean girls moment here... it truly needs 0 words for any middle schooler or any person who has been hurt to see, feel, and connect to exactly what Priyanka is feeling). And that, after all, is the magic of books, right? We connect across lines we thought we may never have before - mirrors and windows, always!

Second - as a reader of many MG/YA, to have a young woman of color on the cover -- YES!! I look forward to the day when this is just the norm and no longer necessary to have a special mention, but let's be real, diversity in publishing still has a long way to go. Much like recent releases Save Me a Seat and When Dimple Met Rishi are bringing each author's unique voice to the diversity of Indian-American experiences - Pashmina continues to build on that brilliantly.

Third - NOT FOCUSED ON BOYS. Yes, there's Eddie, the friend we see alongside in school and as a semi-background character, but can I just high-five Nidhi Chanani for not having a novel where boy-hunting is a main plot arc of a high-schooler? A Bildungsroman centered around the power of the women in her family, and the women who have labored before her? And the women to continue to be touched by the pashmina? Yes, please!

Fourth - Navigating lines. Whether between cultures, locations, people, choices - I love how the magic of her stories, old, new, fantasy and real, they all blend together so well. The wisdom stemming from both sources has a clear imprint on Priyanka, and it is beautiful to see (even when it doesn't help her mother feel better about her driving :P)

For any teacher or librarian in 4th-8th, YES, this should be in your collection :)

As the author wrote in a blogpost, the inspiration came from her own childhood:
My inspiration for Pashmina came from a variety of sources: my mom, growing up in the US, my first trip to India, and women’s choice – all of these things are woven into the story... My teenage understanding of India was tainted by poverty stricken, third world imagery. How wonderful would it be if a young person learned about their culture through only positive representations? That’s the root of Pashmina; opening a suitcase and traveling to a fantasy version of India where a character can learn about their heritage in a favorable light.
Pashmina accomplishes this beautifully, and as a debut novel, may just have turned me into a graphic novel fan! Happy reading, friends!

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