Thursday, November 13, 2014

MG Realistic Fiction: Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj

Abby Spencer's teacher asks the question, "what's the one thing you want most in your life?"  At first, she responds excitement, but what she really wants is to meet the father she never really knew.  She knows very little about him, other than that he lives in India.  Abby's mother told her they dated, but her dad returned to India before finding out that she was pregnant.  Abby's mom did try to contact him writing many letters, but she never was able to track him down.  After a severe allergic reaction to coconut, Abby and her mother question whether they should try to find him again even just to find out some medical information, like is he allergic to coconut too?  After some Internet searches, Abby learns her father is a famous Bollywood actor in India and he wants her to come to visit him.  Abby then ventures to India to learn more about her father and hopefully get answers to why he never contacted her or her mother.  

Through Abby the reader is able to experience traveling to a new country and a new culture.  I had the pleasure of living in Egypt for a number of years and couldn't help noticing the similarities between Bajaj's descriptions of Mumbai and my time in Egypt.  India and Egypt share a huge distinction between the wealthy and poor, and Bajaj's descriptions of Mumbai were reflective of my own experiences of the extreme contradictions I noticed while traveling around Egypt.  There are these mansion size homes with beautiful flowering trees, situated right next to homes the size of a small tool shed.   I think she also accurately captured the feel of Mumbai in the way she described the people and food that Abby experience's in the story.  Bajaj's descriptions of Tandori chicken and yogurt made me miss the Baldi bread and Koshari (a mix of lentils, rice and beans) that  I ate while in Egypt.  At the same time, Bajaj provides a wonderful story about a girl trying to learn more about her father and understand her new found heritage and the culture of India.    

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