My Basmati Bat Mitzvah centers on Tara Feinstein, an Indian-Jewish-American girl who is struggling to balance her Indian side with her Jewish side as she prepares for her bat mitzvah, and who is struggling with her best friends, Ben-O and Rebecca, as they form other friendships. As a non-religious white girl from the suburbs, I wondered if I would find a point of entry into this story. Before long, though, I found myself squeezing in chapters in between meetings. I was invested in Tara’s story, probably because it’s so relatable, so universal. I suspect most young readers will find it so, too.
While not everyone may have had to juggle Tara’s particular heritages, all tweens go through at least some of what she goes through: getting pressured to do something her parents want her to, dealing with a girl BFF finding another BFF, figuring out her changing feelings about her boy BFF, dealing with the judge-y girl at school, warding off the boy who she doesn’t like back, and generally making the stupid mistakes that kids make. Been there, right? Any kid that’s had questions about religion will likely appreciate the candor with which Tara explores her faith. Her conversations with her rabbi are some of the most interesting in the book, as she questions whether or not she should go through with her bat mitzvah.
The book is for ages 10-14, and I highly recommend it not just for those kids, but for anyone questioning their identity and the changing nature of relationships and friendships.