Thursday, March 30, 2006

Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine by Kashmira Sheth is a lovely book about a girl’s coming of age as an immigrant to the United States from India. I read it just after reading The Life of Pi and just before reading The God of Small Things, so perhaps I am on an Indian bent these days.

Seema is 12 when her family moves to Iowa City. She struggles with acclimating to a new culture, new food, new language and making new friends, as expected. When everyone else brings peanut butter or ham sandwiches for lunch, she worries about the smell of her food and what others will think of it.

What makes the story really interesting and complex is Seema’s relationship with a girl back home in India, who is from a lower class and who was scorned and ridiculed in the girls’ school. Seema comes to know and understand her on a different level and her way of looking at herself, others and the world is changed in the process. Themes of family, culture, friendship, prejudice/acceptance, wealth/poverty, justice/kindness and growing up are woven all through this book. It is a gem!

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