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American Betiya

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Fans of Sandhya Menon, Erika Sanchez and Jandy Nelson will identify with this powerful story of a young artist grappling with first love, family boundaries, and the complications of a cross-cultural relationship. Rani Kelkar has never lied to her parents, until she meets Oliver. The same qualities that draw her in--his tattoos, his charisma, his passion for art--make him he Fans of Sandhya Menon, Erika Sanchez and Jandy Nelson will identify with this powerful story of a young artist grappling with first love, family boundaries, and the complications of a cross-cultural relationship. Rani Kelkar has never lied to her parents, until she meets Oliver. The same qualities that draw her in--his tattoos, his charisma, his passion for art--make him her mother's worst nightmare. They begin dating in secret, but when Oliver's troubled home life unravels, he starts to ask more of Rani than she knows how to give, desperately trying to fit into her world, no matter how high the cost. When a twist of fate leads Rani from Evanston, Illinois to Pune, India for a summer, she has a reckoning with herself--and what's really brewing beneath the surface of her first love. Winner of the SCBWI Emerging Voices award, Anuradha Rajurkar takes an honest look at the ways cultures can clash in an interracial relationship. Braiding together themes of sexuality, artistic expression, and appropriation, she gives voice to a girl claiming ownership of her identity, one shattered stereotype at a time.


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Fans of Sandhya Menon, Erika Sanchez and Jandy Nelson will identify with this powerful story of a young artist grappling with first love, family boundaries, and the complications of a cross-cultural relationship. Rani Kelkar has never lied to her parents, until she meets Oliver. The same qualities that draw her in--his tattoos, his charisma, his passion for art--make him he Fans of Sandhya Menon, Erika Sanchez and Jandy Nelson will identify with this powerful story of a young artist grappling with first love, family boundaries, and the complications of a cross-cultural relationship. Rani Kelkar has never lied to her parents, until she meets Oliver. The same qualities that draw her in--his tattoos, his charisma, his passion for art--make him her mother's worst nightmare. They begin dating in secret, but when Oliver's troubled home life unravels, he starts to ask more of Rani than she knows how to give, desperately trying to fit into her world, no matter how high the cost. When a twist of fate leads Rani from Evanston, Illinois to Pune, India for a summer, she has a reckoning with herself--and what's really brewing beneath the surface of her first love. Winner of the SCBWI Emerging Voices award, Anuradha Rajurkar takes an honest look at the ways cultures can clash in an interracial relationship. Braiding together themes of sexuality, artistic expression, and appropriation, she gives voice to a girl claiming ownership of her identity, one shattered stereotype at a time.

30 review for American Betiya

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Breathtaking , unique, such a thrilling pleasure to read this beauty! I love to get lost in those books centered around multicultural interests and thankfully ownvoices give us a great chance to meet with powerful, creative indie authors who introduce us different approaches opening into vivid, original lives, traditions, cultures. Please don’t hesitate to add this book on your very special tbr but not just add, please schedule a special reading time and dive into it blind! I truly enjoy Rani K Breathtaking , unique, such a thrilling pleasure to read this beauty! I love to get lost in those books centered around multicultural interests and thankfully ownvoices give us a great chance to meet with powerful, creative indie authors who introduce us different approaches opening into vivid, original lives, traditions, cultures. Please don’t hesitate to add this book on your very special tbr but not just add, please schedule a special reading time and dive into it blind! I truly enjoy Rani Kellar’s story who is Indian American high school girl, struggling between satisfying her family’s expectations by studying science, being an A grader, staying away from troubled boys and pursuing her own artistic dreams, dating with a white boy her family never and ever approves, crossing dangerous lines with her secret rebellious feelings which are about to blast and ruin everything she’s worked for. Some parts of the book was truly bold, disturbing, realistic and extra harsh, shaking you to the core, giving you emotional turmoil! Especially Rani’s abusive, somewhat obsessive relationship patterns with Oliver ached my heart deeply. Oliver’s fetishism and his need to define his girlfriend like an exotic creature instead of living, breathing human being, minor aggression facade of their bonding made me clench my fists, grit my teeth! I barely soothed myself and restrained my anger! I loved Reni’s inner journey: the way of handling the intense pain of true and forbidden love, her discovery of her own sexuality against the cultural taboos, the way she learns to stand for herself, sharpening her artistic skills even though she acts against her family’s wishes, her unique, genuine relationship with her friend Kate! Yes, I loved this book so much! I truly devoured the pages at one sit! I couldn’t leave it! It was riveting, intriguing and addictive! It took its place at my all time favorite YA reads! And I’m looking forward to read more works of the author sooner! I’m giving my five Indian, emotional, motivational, inspirational, unputdownable, heartfelt stars! It was one of my best reading experiences I’ve lately had! Special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s/ Knopf Books for young readers for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Liza Wiemer

    Put American Betiya on your TBR list!! I am so incredibly thrilled that this magnificent, unforgettable #ownvoices novel will be published in 2021. What a journey it's been for Anuradha! She has put her heart, soul, tears, and joy into creating American Betiya, which won the SCBWI YA Emerging Voices Award. With a setting in Evanston, IL and India, readers will get a personal view into Rani's close-knit Indian family and Oliver, the boyfriend who desperately wants to fit into it. This is a novel Put American Betiya on your TBR list!! I am so incredibly thrilled that this magnificent, unforgettable #ownvoices novel will be published in 2021. What a journey it's been for Anuradha! She has put her heart, soul, tears, and joy into creating American Betiya, which won the SCBWI YA Emerging Voices Award. With a setting in Evanston, IL and India, readers will get a personal view into Rani's close-knit Indian family and Oliver, the boyfriend who desperately wants to fit into it. This is a novel brimming with friendship, family, love, identity, sex-positive experiences, self-discovery, and self-esteem. Standing ovation, Anuradha!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Fanna

    ↣ digital copy received via the publicist ↢ June 29, 2020: The title is enough to suffice my desi soul. I mean, how many times have you seen BETIYA it means daughter on a book????

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Fox

    Beautifully written and completely heartfelt. Rani is a funny, lovable, searching protagonist. This book is a gem.

  5. 4 out of 5

    birdie

    where i truly hoped i'd leave this book with tears accompanying my cheeks, i instead ended up sitting there with exactly one thing going through my head: hmmmmm. *2.5 the message gets a 10/10 from me. it's just that the execution didn't work out in my opinion, since i barely connected with the main character. not because of what she's going through, but because of what she's going through isn't developed well enough. it had so much potential but the pacing and lack of actual depth ruined it a bit where i truly hoped i'd leave this book with tears accompanying my cheeks, i instead ended up sitting there with exactly one thing going through my head: hmmmmm. *2.5 the message gets a 10/10 from me. it's just that the execution didn't work out in my opinion, since i barely connected with the main character. not because of what she's going through, but because of what she's going through isn't developed well enough. it had so much potential but the pacing and lack of actual depth ruined it a bit for me. nevertheless an important topic and message, but the book didn't live up to my expectations. if you're interested on reading my full review on my blog (where i also linked to some own-voices reviewers), click here! thank you to the publisher for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review! this did not affect my opinions in any way. blog | bookstagram | more

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Thank you Anuradha for FINALLY giving me a YA book I can relate to and that I definitely needed when I was a teenager. I knew I would be able to relate to a lot of the issues the main character, Rani Kelkar, faces because we both have experienced growing up as a Desi-American teenager. I mean the struggle of strict parents but wanting to follow your heart is a tale as old as time. Also, the crushing pressure to be the model of success and do better than your parents is certainly a theme a lot of Thank you Anuradha for FINALLY giving me a YA book I can relate to and that I definitely needed when I was a teenager. I knew I would be able to relate to a lot of the issues the main character, Rani Kelkar, faces because we both have experienced growing up as a Desi-American teenager. I mean the struggle of strict parents but wanting to follow your heart is a tale as old as time. Also, the crushing pressure to be the model of success and do better than your parents is certainly a theme a lot of immigrant children can relate to. Moreover, the struggle to explain that to your friends and make them understand is a whole other obstacle on its own. I loved that Rajurkar was able to show all those issues and themes while still giving me the sweet first-love teen romance I want in my YA books. Yes, it's about her culture and religion but at the same time, she is just a teenager trying to figure out how she fits into the world and her identity. She’s still a teenager trying to understand what love really is and what she wants in a relationship. She’s a teenager trying to figure out what her career will be. Those are topics every teen has probably grappled with. I know I certainly did! This is a realistic YA book I definitely recommend to teens (and adults), and especially those struggling with cross-cultural life. I will likely be shoving this onto my Desi-American friends as well too haha. Overall, I was beyond honored to have read this ARC and I’m excited for the world to be able to read it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christina Clancy

    I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Rajurkar's novel, a vivid portrayal of the challenges of growing up between cultures and traditions, the torturous emotions of first love, and the extremely relatable teenage angst we all experience. Rujurkar's writing is pitch perfect, and anchored in sensory details that immerse you in Evanston and high school. The novel is a combination of silk saris and rubber-soled combat boots: the perfect balance of sensitivity and edgy toughness. Young rea I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Rajurkar's novel, a vivid portrayal of the challenges of growing up between cultures and traditions, the torturous emotions of first love, and the extremely relatable teenage angst we all experience. Rujurkar's writing is pitch perfect, and anchored in sensory details that immerse you in Evanston and high school. The novel is a combination of silk saris and rubber-soled combat boots: the perfect balance of sensitivity and edgy toughness. Young readers and adults alike will enjoy this fascinating debut novel.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shivani

    *4.5 TW: racism, gaslighting, mention of suicide This book truly shook me to my core. I wasn't really expecting much going into it, but by the end I just felt so seen and understood as an Indian women. I genuinely think this book was something high school me needed and I think that's why it holds so much value for me now when I read it because it has all the messages and themes a younger version of myself crucially needed to hear to value and appreciate herself and her culture. I loved the juxta *4.5 TW: racism, gaslighting, mention of suicide This book truly shook me to my core. I wasn't really expecting much going into it, but by the end I just felt so seen and understood as an Indian women. I genuinely think this book was something high school me needed and I think that's why it holds so much value for me now when I read it because it has all the messages and themes a younger version of myself crucially needed to hear to value and appreciate herself and her culture. I loved the juxtaposition of being between two worlds. Being too American, not being American enough. Being too Indian, not being Indian enough. You can see that simply from the title, the mix of American with the word Betiyan (a loving word for daughter), but once you get into the book, the push and pull of identify between them is seen so clearly. The way this book was written the author did a phenomenal job being very raw and real with her characters and situations. This book was messy, the characters made lots of mistakes, but what teenager doesn't. I think the mistakes and messiness made it even more believable and relatable to the audience. Rani was depicted in such a way that I could not help but empathize with her because reading her was like looking at a reflection of my younger self. There were so many moments when you're growing up that you ask yourself questions about who you are and who you want to be. You want to be able to fit in and make friends, but you also want to surround yourself with people who love and understand you for your authentic self. As a South Asian woman, Rani was running through many of these questions, and it just broke my heart to see her question her own worth especially when she let certain racist things slide. It's easy to say that people of color should step up and say something in situations when they're uncomfortable, but it's not always easy and this book showed that. There are times when you'll meet people who won't think their words or actions are outwardly racist, but that doesn't mean microaggressions are okay. I feel as though this book is for all people alike because there's so many lessons to be learned from this story. Another thing that I absolutely loved was the friendship between Rani and her best friend Kate! I'm a sucker whenever I see an emphasis on friendship in a book and Rani and Kate's in particular stood out to me because it mimicked friendships I have and have seen in my own life. My sister's best friend is actually not Indian, but they grew up together and she has always been someone who embraced our culture as we embraced hers. She would indulge in Bollywood movies and learn a few Hindi words so she could connect with our family on a deeper level and I couldn't tell you how much I appreciated that. My own best friend, though she's Indian has so many personality traits of Kate's. She's bold, abrasive at times, but doesn't take crap from anyone. She would go to the ends of the earth if I asked her too. But going back to the book, in their friendship in particular I found the depiction also not cookie cutter in anyway. It had that same level of authenticity because there were ups and downs as there are in any friendship especially when it comes to relationships and boys, but at the end of the day, it's those friendships that hold up and are with you for a lifetime. I cannot sing enough praise about this book. I just really loved it! I hope you pick it up! *Also I took off 0.5 stars only because there were a couple sentences that irked me slightly specially the comment about Lilly Singh (who I don't think is the best Indian figure for rep) and the comment on Gandhi who even I for a long time thought was such an amazing figure, which he has done good things, but that doesn't mean we should ignore all the bad and racist things he's done, thus the fact that he was only painted in a good light might be not as informative for people who don't know him if that makes sense)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessica | JustReadingJess

    American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar is an enlightening story about an Indian teenager secretly dating a white boy and trying to fit in. This is a great story of individuality and fitting in. Rani is a high schooler focused on her secret boyfriend which causes her to stray away from her family and friends. She is put in uncomfortable situations and has to figure out how to deal with them. When Oliver starts calling her an Indian princess and making questionable decisions Rani has to decide wh American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar is an enlightening story about an Indian teenager secretly dating a white boy and trying to fit in. This is a great story of individuality and fitting in. Rani is a high schooler focused on her secret boyfriend which causes her to stray away from her family and friends. She is put in uncomfortable situations and has to figure out how to deal with them. When Oliver starts calling her an Indian princess and making questionable decisions Rani has to decide what she will do. Rani isn’t allowed to date and her parents would definitely not approve of her boyfriend. Rani grows up in a culture very different than mine, so I found it enlightening to hear her story. Family is important to Rani, so it is hard for her to go against her family’s wishes. I also found it very interesting that Rani’s best friend, Kate, is white and seeing how she fits in with Rani’s family. Kate’s reaction to everything going on with Oliver was interesting. Kate was a great friend to Rani throughout everything. Difficult issues like drug use are discussed in American Betiya. Rajurkar does an excellent job bringing the reader inside Rani’s perspective to think and feel like her. There were many situations that I was angry with while reading that I might not have even realized in person. I recommend American Betiya for anyone interested in an entertaining novel about teens and Indian culture. Thank you Books Forward, Random House Children’s/Knopf Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for American Betiya. Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zaina

    Is it crazy that I want to scream every time I think about this book? It is possible I’m being a wee bit dramatic but American Betiya managed to do that thing where my heart painfully constricts at the thought of Rani and her tumultuous journey to achieving self-fulfillment and owning her identity. Ahh this book gives me all the bittersweet feelings!!! To put it simply, this story centers around a relationship between Rani and her "bad boy" artist boyfriend Oliver that starts off good and brings Is it crazy that I want to scream every time I think about this book? It is possible I’m being a wee bit dramatic but American Betiya managed to do that thing where my heart painfully constricts at the thought of Rani and her tumultuous journey to achieving self-fulfillment and owning her identity. Ahh this book gives me all the bittersweet feelings!!! To put it simply, this story centers around a relationship between Rani and her "bad boy" artist boyfriend Oliver that starts off good and brings interesting changes to Rani’s life but eventually turns into something ugly and damaging. Rajurkar interweaves the dynamics of this relationship — that changes course when Oliver’s family life starts to get difficult — beautifully with the exploration of Rani’s family, cultural values and religion and basically encapsulates the complexities involved in the Indian American/immigrant experience. It was done so so well, the second half of the book being my absolute favorite. I want to say here that this book deals with some heavy topics like racism & micro-aggressions, gaslighting and fetishization of someone’s culture. There’s great commentary on the same toxic narrative of "good" children getting into bad things and their families stigmatizing them. The author writes these well and with purpose but ofc major trigger warning! A part of the story is also set in India and I cannot tell you how much I adored this part of the book- so many tears were shed, interesting revelations were brought to light, and mostly I was overcome with a sense of nostalgia as it’s been over a year since I’ve gone back. Rajurkar was able to write authentic characters that I could connect with in unique ways. The most unique connection of all being with the MC Rani. Her storyline was admittedly one of the most frustrating ones I’ve had the experience of reading. It was a mixture of wanting to shake some sense into her head and also wanting to give her a tight hug. I just adored her character. I loved how she embraced her culture wholeheartedly and I found the semi-awkward relationship with her parents, especially her mom, SO relatable- it was actually hilarious. Kate was another favorite of mine. Her storyline jumped off the page with its own complexities and I honestly wouldn’t mind reading a book about her. I loved her role in Rani’s life and I think they had a great chemistry together. And I have to shoutout Shalini, Rani’s cousin because I LOVE HER. . . This book put me through an all-rounded emotional journey and it’s no surprise I kept reading till 6 AM. I have found so much to love and appreciate about American Betiya and it’s easily one of my favorite books of the year. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry both sad and happy tears & you’ll constantly wonder about Rani and Oliver but it’s so worth it. Read American Betiya!!! Trigger warnings: Emotional abuse, gaslighting, cultural fetishization, cultural appropriation, racism, micro aggressions, suicide, depression, substance abuse, anxiety, sex, death, loss of loved ones.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    I have already been recommending this book to everyone I know. It is easy to fall in love with the lead, Rani, and understand that quintessential coming-of-age tension where you are attempting to extricate your own desires from that of your parents. Coupled with a first romance, living within two cultures, the complexities of teen friendship... this book pretty much has it all. I appreciated that my initial thoughts about where this story would take me were quickly shifted and I very much enjoye I have already been recommending this book to everyone I know. It is easy to fall in love with the lead, Rani, and understand that quintessential coming-of-age tension where you are attempting to extricate your own desires from that of your parents. Coupled with a first romance, living within two cultures, the complexities of teen friendship... this book pretty much has it all. I appreciated that my initial thoughts about where this story would take me were quickly shifted and I very much enjoyed being taken on the journey of self-discovery with Rani. . Thanks to Random House Children's and NetGalley for the advanced copy. All opinions my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brianna Bourne

    This book is EXQUISITE. Seriously one of the most gorgeously written, deeply emotional and nuanced books I've ever read. The main character, Rani, felt so real to me. She jumps off the page, and I wanted to be friends with her! Her romance with Oliver starts out with such fireworks and fizz - Rajurkar perfectly captured the chemistry and heat of falling in love for the first time, which is one of my favorite things to read in books. I was completely drawn into Rani’s life and her struggle to hide This book is EXQUISITE. Seriously one of the most gorgeously written, deeply emotional and nuanced books I've ever read. The main character, Rani, felt so real to me. She jumps off the page, and I wanted to be friends with her! Her romance with Oliver starts out with such fireworks and fizz - Rajurkar perfectly captured the chemistry and heat of falling in love for the first time, which is one of my favorite things to read in books. I was completely drawn into Rani’s life and her struggle to hide her secret relationship with Oliver, and balance who she's becoming with the family-oriented girl she was before he blazed into her life. There were so many moments where I had to just stop and press my hand to my heart. There's also a section of the novel set in India and I LOVED everything about it. The sensory descriptions and the movement around the bustling, vivid city were so lovingly rendered, and it was the perfect backdrop for the strong forward pull of emotions and motivations throughout that section. The ending of the novel was pitch-perfect, and subtly and effectively drove home the themes of the novel. The writing is simply phenomenal. This book has that lovely magic that makes me just unmoor and trust that the author is going to take me on a gorgeous emotional journey. I was expecting romance and got SO much more. Rani’s story is real and powerful and tackles topics of culture collide and toxic relationships that few have done with this amount of grace and nuance. A stunning debut. I'll be reading everything Rajurkar writes!

  13. 5 out of 5

    ash ♡

    DNF at 52% American Betiya follows Rani, an Indian-American teen who meets a white boy named Oliver and begins dating him in secret. However, as the two continue to spend more and more time together, Oliver starts fetishizing Rani and her culture, and it’s clear that he is abusing and taking advantage of her. It was so enraging to read about this, and I found myself very angry during many points of the story. (Thankfully, other reviewers have mentioned that the book does not end with Rani stayin DNF at 52% American Betiya follows Rani, an Indian-American teen who meets a white boy named Oliver and begins dating him in secret. However, as the two continue to spend more and more time together, Oliver starts fetishizing Rani and her culture, and it’s clear that he is abusing and taking advantage of her. It was so enraging to read about this, and I found myself very angry during many points of the story. (Thankfully, other reviewers have mentioned that the book does not end with Rani staying with Oliver and continuing to deal with his manipulation, which I am so happy about.) I really loved the Indian culture so beautifully represented in this book! Even the little things, such as Rani comparing her aunties and uncles to a wedding baraat, or Rani’s mother cooking roti and daal, truly warmed my heart. Rani’s best friend Kate was also amazing, and I adored their friendship and how wonderfully it was written! I think my biggest problem with this book was Rani herself, though, as I simply could not connect with her. Many of the decisions she made contradicted one another, and it seemed as if she was just serving as a punching bag for the plot rather than acting like a three-dimensional character. I also found myself confused during many parts of the novel, as there were strange time jumps between chapters that threw me off. Also, the writing style was bland and boring to read, and just led to me feeling even more disconnected from Rani as a character. I think that I was also a bit unprepared for the content in this book, as the fetishization and racism was very hard to read, so that was another factor that played into my DNF. Please don’t let my opinion discourage you from picking this up, though, as my DNF was mostly a case of “right book, wrong time"! I'm sure many other people will love this book, so take my review with a grain of salt. Disclaimer: Thank you for Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinions in any way.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Svapna Sabnis

    I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this book. I loved it! The characters spoke to me. I loved the Rani, an Indian American girl negotiating two cultures and forbidden love. She is spunky and smart. Her boyfriend, her family and best friend are beautifully portrayed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    cossette

    content/trigger warnings: alcoholism, child abandonment/absent father, drugs, suicide attempt, suicide, death of a friend, pregnancy, racism, misogyny, addiction, abusive parents, death of a grandparent, grief, guilt, gaslighting, manipulation, infidelity, fetishization i finished this a few hours ago and honestly i'm ... disappointed? i wish i had enjoyed it more. i don't know if i would've enjoyed it more had i known about some of the triggering content prior to reading it, or if my lack of enj content/trigger warnings: alcoholism, child abandonment/absent father, drugs, suicide attempt, suicide, death of a friend, pregnancy, racism, misogyny, addiction, abusive parents, death of a grandparent, grief, guilt, gaslighting, manipulation, infidelity, fetishization i finished this a few hours ago and honestly i'm ... disappointed? i wish i had enjoyed it more. i don't know if i would've enjoyed it more had i known about some of the triggering content prior to reading it, or if my lack of enjoyment was due to things i personally did not ... vibe with ... (such as the strong anti-marijuana perspective) to say the least. i loved the family dynamics, i loved the supporting characters — unfortunately, i think i was more interested in rani's family & her best friend than i was in ... her. i appreciated how microaggressions were covered, and i really loved how sex-positive this book was. something i also really loved was how rani comes to stand up for herself, how she comes into her own, and how she realizes that someone's past doesn't justify their shitty actions. overall, i thought this was a fast read and would recommend it along with the list of trigger warnings mentioned above. american betiya was quite difficult to read at times, due to all the red flags between rani and oliver, but a poignant & important read nonetheless.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ananya Devarajan

    Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. I'll cut straight to the chase—Anuradha Rajurkar's AMERICAN BETITYA is the young adult contemporary novel I needed growing up as an Indian-American teenager. It was effortless to relate to Rani Kelkar's journey amidst love and heartbreak to Indian culture and the racism that often follows, sometimes from the most unexpected places. Her coming-of-age is characterized by the st Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. I'll cut straight to the chase—Anuradha Rajurkar's AMERICAN BETITYA is the young adult contemporary novel I needed growing up as an Indian-American teenager. It was effortless to relate to Rani Kelkar's journey amidst love and heartbreak to Indian culture and the racism that often follows, sometimes from the most unexpected places. Her coming-of-age is characterized by the staples of the genre (career aspirations, first and young love, parental conflict), but also transcends the tropes it is founded upon. AMERICAN BETIYA focuses not on what defines Rani's journey, but Rani herself, which makes for an incredibly compelling read that connects you to the characters instantaneously. And honestly, it was so refreshing to see an Indian American teenager face such unique challenges without losing herself or her identity, which isn't often portrayed in mainstream media. Simply put, AMERICAN BETIYA is a must-read for anyone, regardless of if you're Indian, American, or somewhere in between. I highly recommend this wonderful story and will likely be screaming about it for the rest of my life :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Liam

    This book already won a prize before being published (the National SCBWI Emerging Voices Award) and it's easy to see why -- it's so beautifully written and exceptionally wise. Though it's about teenage characters and written for a teenage readership, the truth is that adults will get a lot out of this book, too, and possibly more. The narrator, Rani, is impossible not to root for as she navigates the high-stakes final months of high school. She's smart, compassionate, a good friend, and working This book already won a prize before being published (the National SCBWI Emerging Voices Award) and it's easy to see why -- it's so beautifully written and exceptionally wise. Though it's about teenage characters and written for a teenage readership, the truth is that adults will get a lot out of this book, too, and possibly more. The narrator, Rani, is impossible not to root for as she navigates the high-stakes final months of high school. She's smart, compassionate, a good friend, and working very hard to balance everything, including her parents' expectations for her and the demands her first love makes of her. What makes this book incredibly powerful, though is seeing Rani how confronts racism -- both from sources she expects and, painfully, places she doesn't -- with strength and grace and hard-won wisdom. Rare will be the reader who doesn't stand up and cheer at the end of this book -- and immediately recommend it to everyone they know!

  18. 5 out of 5

    ivy ♡

    ok but the cover😭😭

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shreya ◠◡◠

    Why you should read it? • The Desi Contemporary Book we were craving for ✅ • The Seamless Weaving of Words ✅ The book is not short, but it didn't took me too long to finish it, you may ask me why? The writing was seamless, it just flowed and kept me going. • The Traditions and Customs described so well ✅ The description of festivals and cultures was done so well it couldn't be better. I really liked how there was points and notes about the starting of that festival and it's importance. • The Friends Why you should read it? • The Desi Contemporary Book we were craving for ✅ • The Seamless Weaving of Words ✅ The book is not short, but it didn't took me too long to finish it, you may ask me why? The writing was seamless, it just flowed and kept me going. • The Traditions and Customs described so well ✅ The description of festivals and cultures was done so well it couldn't be better. I really liked how there was points and notes about the starting of that festival and it's importance. • The Friendship that had me crying ✅ • The Environment of a Desi Household ✅ Being a Desi myself I could relate to all the things going around in Rani's home. It was refreshing to read about it to be honest. • The Racism and Hate for being ourselves Racism is nothing new for Asians who are living outside their country, but the way Anuradha described it made chills run down my spine. And if you've read the book YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. anyway. • The Strong Bond between Grandparents and Grandchild ✅ • The Journey of Self Discovery and A Search for finding yourself ✅ Full review + moodboard + my favourite quotes on my blog I loved the book, such a beautiful story and motive. Highly Recommended! Thanks to Netgalley and Hear Our Voices Book Tours for providing the Arc in exchange of my honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    Rani had always been the model daughter. She was studious and spent her spare time reading articles pertaining to her future as a medical doctor. She was active in her community, often volunteering with the younger children. But when Oliver showed an interest in Rani, she embarked on a secret relationship with him that had her struggling between her love for him and her love for her family. This book had me feeling ALL the emotions. I felt the euphoria of first love, the guilt of betraying loved Rani had always been the model daughter. She was studious and spent her spare time reading articles pertaining to her future as a medical doctor. She was active in her community, often volunteering with the younger children. But when Oliver showed an interest in Rani, she embarked on a secret relationship with him that had her struggling between her love for him and her love for her family. This book had me feeling ALL the emotions. I felt the euphoria of first love, the guilt of betraying loved ones, the stress of having to compromise yourself for someone else, and the pain of multiple losses. This was quite a journey for Rani. It was riddled with poor choices, but I was elated and practically fist-punching for her in the end. I am first generation American, but my father pretty much abandoned his culture when he moved to the US, so I cannot relate to Rani's experience in that way. However, I appreciated her struggle with trying to find herself somewhere between the two cultures. That was something which was really interesting for me. Rani had a certain perception about her parents, their ways, and their rules at the beginning of the story. I saw it slowly change as Rani's relationship with Oliver evolved. I think my favorite part of this story was when the bottom fell out, and Rani was forced to come to terms with the situation. It was then she started having honest discussions and began to really understand her parents and herself. When everything started to crumble, Rani was whisked away to Pune. I thought it was a brilliant and really meaningful way to allow her to get back on track. There, she was surrounded by her family and immersed in her culture. She did a lot of soul searching about how these parts of her added up to the whole, and it resulted in some deeply touching moments. When I finished this book, I was drying my tears. It was a roller coaster journey for Rani (and me). There were highs and lows, gains and losses, and in the end, she discovered a lot about herself. Overall: Extremely heartbreaking and touching, while also being very honest. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  21. 5 out of 5

    nihaarika

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I think the biggest reason why i immediately fell in love with American Betiya and Anuradha D. RAjurkar's writing is that I could see so much of myself in Rani. This book has resonated with me deeply. From the beginning of the story, with Rani in the gallery to the end, I saw so much of myself in her. Her relationship with Oliver was unique and i could see why she was so enamored with him, but the further I got into the book, the more odd I felt about the way he was acting about indian culture an I think the biggest reason why i immediately fell in love with American Betiya and Anuradha D. RAjurkar's writing is that I could see so much of myself in Rani. This book has resonated with me deeply. From the beginning of the story, with Rani in the gallery to the end, I saw so much of myself in her. Her relationship with Oliver was unique and i could see why she was so enamored with him, but the further I got into the book, the more odd I felt about the way he was acting about indian culture and I could tell Rani was also feeling the same. Anuradha D. Rajurkar has captured this feeling fantastically well and what she wrote as Rani's thoughts were exactly what i felt. That's what elevated American Betiya for me. I will 100% be recommending this book to anyone and everyone because it's a truly wonderful read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kasey M

    Oh my GOD this was so GOOD Content warnings: death of a family member, racism, microaggressions, gaslighting, fetishization, death by suicide (specifically hanging), transphobia, drug use, addiction, emotional manipulation

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jon O

    This book beautifully explores the excitement and pain of a cross-cultural relationship that breaks cultural taboos, a teen romance carried out beyond the view of parents and others who may disapprove. The author’s ear for dialogue is pitch-perfect, and her understanding of high-school interactions, and academic and social hierarchies, make this a book that young people -- even old ones -- will recognize themselves in. Plus, it’s just a great story!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anushka

    Thank you Netgalley and the publicist for allowing me to read this eARC! I absolutely enjoyed it. American Betiya is a young adult contemporary book written that shows the perspective of an Asian growing up in America. This book showcases all the emotions perfectly and was well written. It focuses on self-development, and the challenges POC might face in our diverse developing society. I highly recommend it, and urge everyone to take a minute to read it!

  25. 4 out of 5

    SANJEEV DESHMUKH

    Very Interesting .Eagerly waiting for release of this book American Betiya.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Solace_In_Reading

    1.1.2020 Definitely going to re-read this book. I like how it ended and I think I have to take some time to get my thoughts together.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kajree Gautom

    It is very rarely that one gets to see a true desi term in a contemporary book title. When the cover revealed happened for American Betiya last year, I was sold. The theme sounded so good, the cover was stunning and the title was an immediate catch. American Betiya follows Rani and Oliver’s tumultuous romance as she grapples with identity, culture and what it means to love. The book starts with Rani in an art exhibition where she first sees Oliver. From the first page, first line itself, we reade It is very rarely that one gets to see a true desi term in a contemporary book title. When the cover revealed happened for American Betiya last year, I was sold. The theme sounded so good, the cover was stunning and the title was an immediate catch. American Betiya follows Rani and Oliver’s tumultuous romance as she grapples with identity, culture and what it means to love. The book starts with Rani in an art exhibition where she first sees Oliver. From the first page, first line itself, we readers are told how chaos is in the near future. We get to know from the first page that Rani is interested in photography, wants to pursue pediatrics, and is barred from dating. But Oliver makes her want to break the last rule, and a whole lot more. “He is my mother’s worst nightmare.” That is how the book starts, and that is how Oliver is described head on. I did like Oliver’s character at the beginning. He was amusing and his sweet handling of the relationship made me gooey inside. And then the signs showed up and I was screaming in my head for Rani – get out, get out, get out! I think the author did a good job with Oliver because no matter how much I disliked him, I was also marveling at the way his personality was developed, his character arc shown and portrayed in the book. The red signs do appear from the first meet itself, really, but the manipulation in his words is pretty inevitable and we readers, along with Rani, fall under his charms too. Rani was a highly relatable character, I won’t lie. It is pretty universal about desi parents being hardcore about relationships and dating during teen years, and the way that we kids defy them anyway. Rani’s sneaky outings to go and meet Oliver, the phone calls she disguises as being from her best friend – these instances were so relatable that it took me back to my first dating years when I was sixteen. I couldn’t help but giggle through those parts. But there were certain points where Rani’s character also infuriated me. for one, her oblivious to Indian items like tandoor when she claims to love India. It felt very weird that someone who loved her culture so much wouldn’t know what a damn tandoor was. Besides, there were some instances where her thoughts were so occupied with Oliver that it became a nuisance to read. I understand, you are in love. But still – And the first half of the story dragged so much. For real. For fifty percent of the book, there were no such incidents that would excite me. a lot of things felt repetitive, and while I enjoyed all of the dates that the two love birds went to, I don’t think I needed heavy descriptions of all of them. Some parts from the first few chapters could have been cut out and the story would have been completely fine, I feel. Again, while everything was relatable, I also did feel that the extent of ‘no dating’ rule was very exaggerated. I find it hard to believe that the simple mention of a boy or dating could turn her mother’s mood foul – that was a little too much, I feel. Another thing I wish was more extensively dealt with was grief. Having loved her grandpa so much, I think we didn’t see enough of Rani mourning him. Those chapters were very rushed, and her repenting the previous drama back with her best friend and Oliver. Which was, to be honest, a little throwdown. But then again, people grieve in different ways, so that is that.I think the fact that it took so long for the climactic elements to step in that I lost a lot of my patience and interest in the story. At a point, Rani and Oliver got very annoying. At a point, I was just telling the story to move somewhere, to like maybe have the parents find out or something. Nothing of that sort happened but something else did which was – well, quiet horrifying.The play with culture identities and exoticization of Indians was portrayed to well. A lot of Oliver’s actions towards the later half of the book infuriated me so much, horrified me, and my heart went out for Rani. No one deserves to go through something like that – no one. I commend the author for taking up such a theme and seamlessly incorporating it into the narration. The subtle institutionalized racism against Indian Americans was also spot on. Her peers calling Rani the Gandhi Girl, the little comments against her traditional wear on Halloween – they might seem funny and unrelatable but such things happen and keeps happening. The writing and narration were kind of choppy at times, but I enjoyed the way Rani’s voice seeped out through the words. For a debut, I think it was a decent and solid writing that makes a reader scrolling through or flicking the pages. She took Indian culture and incorporated it in the story in such a way that once you are finished, you learn something about our culture and traditions. It isn’t preachy but informative, and I liked that. So, yes, there were a few qualms I had with the story, things that bugged me and parts that bored me, especially how much it dragged and exaggerated. Yet, I enjoyed reading it, especially the bold end (which, again, I wish was a bit more nuanced and not rushed), and I think a lot of desi readers are going to find it highly relatable too. It’s a fresh debut and I’ll be looking forward to more from the author!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ekta

    When a teen falls hard for the bad boy in school, she begins to lie to her parents to stay in the relationship. As she gets closer to him, she finds herself juggling her identity, her culture, and the thrill of first love. Author Anuradha D. Rajurkar showcases the struggle for first-generation Indian American children in a realistic way with a delightful slow burn in her debut novel American Betiya. Single child Rani Kelkar has her life plan in place: go to college as pre-med and become a pediatr When a teen falls hard for the bad boy in school, she begins to lie to her parents to stay in the relationship. As she gets closer to him, she finds herself juggling her identity, her culture, and the thrill of first love. Author Anuradha D. Rajurkar showcases the struggle for first-generation Indian American children in a realistic way with a delightful slow burn in her debut novel American Betiya. Single child Rani Kelkar has her life plan in place: go to college as pre-med and become a pediatrician. She’s following in the footsteps of her aunt in India who would take Rani on hospital rounds during summer vacations to the city of Pune. Of course, that doesn’t mean Rani’s sole focus is her career. Her second love is photography, even if her parents don’t understand it. They see it as a hobby along with everyone else in the Indian-American community that dominates her parents’ social lives. During a gallery showing where some of her pictures are on display, Rani meets Oliver Jensen. The tattoos, multiple piercings, and intensity of his gaze don’t scare her off, although she’s skeptical of him at first. His own passion for art and interest in hers, though, eases the tension between them. They strike up a friendship, and before Rani knows it she’s starting to like Oliver. The feelings are definitely mutual. “Like” soon blossoms into “love,” and Rani’s heart and mind are with Oliver all day. Her best friend, Kate, encourages the relationship but cautions Rani not to fall too hard. Kate’s own love life has taught her to hold back, and she doesn’t hesitate to tell Rani to do the same. But Rani can’t get enough of Oliver and finds ways to sneak out of the house to be with him. The sneaking part is the challenge. Despite the fact that Rani is 18 and by American standards an adult, by Indian standards—her parents’ standards—she’s not supposed to have any romantic attachments at all. Especially not with boys from outside their culture. Add “troubled home life” to the list, which Oliver has in spades, and Rani is managing to break almost all of her parents’ rules at the same time. Yet the closer they get, the more Rani starts to feel like things are spinning out of control. Oliver’s mother is an alcoholic, and his sister is having trouble maintaining secure relationships of her own. Oliver turns to Rani more and more for emotional support, but what he demands from her becomes harder for her to handle and give. Soon it becomes clear that Rani will have to make a choice: Oliver or herself. Author Anuradha D. Rajurkar captures the intensity of teenage relationships with perfection. Rani’s struggle to balance everything in her life, including her photography, with the need to be with Oliver rings true. So, too, does Rani’s willingness to compromise on her own values and morals. In the heat of the moment, she makes choices that favor Oliver but bother her the next day. The heedlessness with which teenagers go full throttle in anything is on perfect display here. At times it may be hard for readers to buy into Oliver’s cluelessness about Rani’s cultural heritage. They both attend the same large high school known, as Rani points out several times, for its diversity and promotion of various backgrounds. Yet at times, it seems as if Oliver is discovering everything about the Indian culture afresh. In today’s world of social media and globalism, his all-encompassing naivete is hard to believe. Rani, too, comes across as naïve in some moments. A brief encounter meant to show the existence of racism and Rani’s reaction both seem contrived, a narrative device to remind readers and characters alike that prejudices still exist in our current times. As sure as Rani is that breaking her parents’ rules is the right decision, in some scenes she comes off a little too doe-eyed to be believable. The internal struggle she faces regarding those rules is all too real, however, and first-generation South Asian readers will completely relate. While a conversation at the end of the book with Kate comes off as a touch preachy, overall readers will enjoy this book. I rate American Betiya as Bordering on Bookmarking it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) American Betiya is a book I think more POC teens should read. Especially as we are cultivating a culture which talks more openly about cultural appropriation and racist comments. There are the hate crimes, the blatant racism, and the discrimination. But it's also in the little comments over dinners, nicknames, and emotional manipulation. At times, American Betiya was difficult to rea (Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) American Betiya is a book I think more POC teens should read. Especially as we are cultivating a culture which talks more openly about cultural appropriation and racist comments. There are the hate crimes, the blatant racism, and the discrimination. But it's also in the little comments over dinners, nicknames, and emotional manipulation. At times, American Betiya was difficult to read, because as readers we can, hopefully, see the red flags. But as a woman of color, I can see their echoes in my life. The comments I brushed off, the phrases I heard in the corner of rooms, and the unspoken silences. I wish that teen me had read this book. Knew not to laugh away those moments that made me uncomfortable. To recognize the comments for what they were. And what happens to Rani is worse than I ever experienced. American Betiya is about the lines that are so easily laughed off, but are ignorant and become insidious. A line between our attractions and fetishizing them. It's also a story about love, about toxic relationships, and the need for self-independence. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lamia

    This YA novel tackles a very tough subject - racism against the South Asian community in a neoliberal city where the prejudice often takes place in the form of microaggressions. This book is made for someone like me - a South Asian girl who grew up in a neoliberal suburb and has grown up to marry a white man. American Betiya's main character, Rani, is an artist who wants to be a pediatrician. She meets Oliver, a "bad boy" artist type and quickly begins a secret-from-her-parents relationship with This YA novel tackles a very tough subject - racism against the South Asian community in a neoliberal city where the prejudice often takes place in the form of microaggressions. This book is made for someone like me - a South Asian girl who grew up in a neoliberal suburb and has grown up to marry a white man. American Betiya's main character, Rani, is an artist who wants to be a pediatrician. She meets Oliver, a "bad boy" artist type and quickly begins a secret-from-her-parents relationship with him. She ignores the red flag actions he takes (calling her Princess Jasmine, mimicking her dad that he's never met, etc.), although a part of her brain is screaming that what he's doing isn't okay. She's also got her best friend, Kate, and her family, including her visiting grandma and ailing grandfather in India to worry about. I'll start with the good: this book is sex-positive, covers microaggressions in a thoughtful way and Rani, the main narrator, is multifaceted and interesting. There are, however, some things I will note about this book that I didn't particularly enjoy: -The narrative is VERY anti-marijuana. I do not partake, but I also think there is no need to be judgmental of others who do - the book clearly has an anti opinion of marijuana, and it gets to the point where the author treats it as if it's literally equivalent to heroin. -The dialogue feels stilted and unnatural at many points of the book. -This is a small point, but it really took me out of the book. Rani has theoretically been to India multiple times and is ingrained in her culture. But she has no idea what a tandoor is when she sees one. Girl, I've never been to Pakistan and I have lost a lot of my culture since moving out of my parents', but I know what a tandoor is!! All in all, the book got 3 stars from me. It's a good book with a gorgeous cover and an interesting premise. Thank you to Anuradha D. Rajurkar, NetGalley and Random House Children's for an eARC of American Betiya in exchange for my honest and unfiltered review.

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