Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: Born Confused (Hidier)

AUTHOR: Tanuja Desai Hidier
SERIES: Born Confused, book 1
PUBLISHER: Scholastic Point
PUBLICATION DATE: March 19, 2004
ISBN: 9780439977470
PAGES: 512
SOURCE: my library
GENRE: contemporary romance
SETTING: New Jersey and New York City, present day
GIVE IT TO: MS, HS
SUMMARY: As the only daughter of Indian immigrants, 17-year old Dimple Lala feels like she is "too Indian" to fit in with her classmates and "not Indian enough" to fit in with her Indian family. When her parents hope to arrange her marriage to Karsh, the college-age son of their Indian friend, Dimple rolls her eyes and hopes their ill-fated meeting will end as quickly as possible. But weeks later, Dimple sees Karsh in a different light when she attends an Indian dance party where Karsh is the popular DJ.

WHAT I LIKED: This was cute, and I enjoy Hidier's writing style. I would imagine lots of Indian-American girls will really identify with Dimple and her family. I loved Dimple's parents and her fiercely independent cousin Kavita. I liked the development of the romance with Karsh and how the two did not hit it off right away. I loved Dimple's voice and her sarcasm, which had me laughing out loud many times.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: 512 pages. That's far too long for a book like this. Hidier's descriptions are beautiful, but they are just way too much for this story. This is a contemporary slice of life story with romance, and there just isn't near enough action to sustain 512 pages. The focus of the blurb is the romance between Dimple and Karsh, but the two don't even meet until almost 150 pages in. They then do not meet again for another 50 pages.

And then there's Gwyn. The poor-little-beautiful-rich-girl best friend who seemingly happily usurps Dimple's spotlight. She does this constantly and does not even seem to realize it. This girl is a toxic mess, and Dimple is clearly a much better friend than most girls this age would be. For the first half of the book, Gwyn is obsessed over her boyfriend, Dylan. She regularly ditches Dimple for her boyfriend and centers her whole life around him. But Gwyn really shows her true colors when Karsh takes both girls home, and even though Karsh obviously isn't interested in Gwyn, Gwyn is all over him. She gives him a tour of the house (who does that?) and completely dismisses Dimple, telling her to "watch TV" while she waits for them to do the tour. She summarily enlists Dimple to help her "go Indian" in an effort to woo Karsh for herself. A terrible friend who definitely doesn't deserve Dimple.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Girls who can hang in there for the full 500+ hyper-lyrical pages will be treated to a strong heroine, descriptive writing, and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. But seriously, 512 pages?

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: For some reason, we have three copies of Born Confused, all acquired in November 2010. As of today, only one of the three has ever been checked out. By me. We do not have the second book (Bombay Blues).

READALIKES: Does My Head Look Big In This? (Abdel-Fattah); My Basmati Bat Mitzvah (Freedman)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 2/5
  • Creativity: 3/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 1/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 2/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 1/5

CONTENT:
  • Language: mild-medium--does include a few F-bombs, but with 512 pages of words, it's hardly a blip
  • Sexuality: medium--sexually active BFF; some kissing; skinny dipping; naked henna tattooing
  • Violence: none
  • Drugs/Alcohol: medium--underage drinking; a drawn-out marijuana smoking scene
  • Other: lesbian cousin; mention of transvestites
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