The Book Reviews – Website

September 21, 2008

Born Confused

Born Confused

Author: Tanuga Desai Hidier

Page Length: 500

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction        

PLOT SUMMARY: Dimple Lala, an American of Indian decent, is turning 17.  She has tried to deny her roots of being Indian, although her greatest attachment in life is to her now deceased grandfather who lived in India. As Dimple tries to find her place in life, she finds herself caught between her parent’s ideals and values and the lifestyle of blonde hair blue-eyed, Gwyn, her best friend since grade school.

Dimple’s parents try to set up a marriage with their long-time friend’s son, Karsh. Refusing to be a part of the set up, Dimple releases all claims to Karsh to Gwyn who is totally intrigued with “Indian” culture, which is posh in the New York setting.  As Dimple sees Karsh in his D. J. mode, she realizes she does have feelings for him, but thinks he is attracted to Gwyn. 

Dimple becomes aware of not only her Indian culture and its importance, but begins to discover herself through her experiences with her parents, her cousin, Kavita, Gwyn and her romances, Karsh, and her own photography.

REVIEW: Tanuja Desai Hidier does an excellent job of writing a great book about a teen of Southeast Asian Indian decent coming of age in America. The book addresses several touchy areas such as the use of underage drinking, marijuana use, a lesbian affair and a character that is a transvestite that the teacher should be aware of before a student reads.

Her descriptive writing is some of the best I have read in young adult novels and the pages noted could be used as examples for a class lesson, even if the book is not being read as a class novel. 

At a seventh grade reading level, the book is quite lengthy and I would suggest for the advanced, mature female reader. However, I enjoyed it immensely.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Descriptive writing (through out the book but noted on p. 18, 57, 163, 212, 217, 337, 436-440) Cause and Effect, and Compare and Contrast (different cultures)

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Underage drinking, Drug use (p. 251-265), lesbian relationship (p. 310), transvestite (p.314).

RELATED BOOKS: Time Out, New York Asian New York Special, Desilicious Anthology, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, The Border, Imaginary Men, A Step from Heaven

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Short Films by the same author: “The Test” (1996) and “The Assimilation Alphabet”

Author is also a member of “Angels and Whips” (band)

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.thisistanuja.com/index.html

www.amazon.com/Born-Confused-Tanuja-Desai-Hidier/dp/0439510112

www.desijournal.com/book.asp?articleId=26

www.allreaders.com/Topics/info_35479.asp

www.asu.edu/clas/english/englished/yalit/bornconfused/index.htm.

www.scholastic.com/browse/contributor.jsp?id=2731

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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