Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood, by Varsha Bajaj, (2014, Albert Whitman & Co.) $16.99, ISBN: 978-0807563632
Recommended for ages 9-14
Abby Spencer has been raised by a single mom for all over 13 years, and it’s been fine – until a health scare sends her to her mom, asking questions about her dad. She finds out that her father – a college romance of her mom’s – lives in Mumbai, India, and he’s a Bollywood heartthrob! When she finally gets in touch with her dad, he sends for her – for a kid who wanted some excitement out of life, even this may be over the top!
I LOVED this book from the first page. Told in the first person, I loved the way the author gave Abby her voice. She is a fun, excitable teen who loves her family and feels conflicted about her feelings for the father she only just met over Skype. I love the way the author gives readers an eye-opening view of India, from the overwhelming spectacle of Bollywood to the families that live in squalor. Her descriptions, told through a 13 year-old’s voice, were spot-on and evoked a range of reactions for me: joy, uncertainty, sympathy, even frustration. This is one of those books that I want to buy five copies of and hand them to kids in my library, yelling, “READ THIS AND TALK TO ME ABOUT IT!”
#WeNeedDiverseBooks? You’re darn right we do, and with a biracial lead character who heads to India to see her dad on a Bollywood set, we’ve got a great one, right here. Ms. Bajaj, PLEASE tell me we’re going to see more adventures with Abby, her family, and her friends!
This book is a Cybils Middle Grade Fiction first round nominee, and I’m thrilled to have shortlisted it.