This book could have been another boring, cliché filled book, but instead I found it to be a delightful coming of age book about a young girl, daughter of an East Indian mother who has converted to Judaism, and a Jewish father. As her Bat Mitzvah approaches, she has many doubts, doubts about the existence of God and about her identity.
Tara doesn’t want to betray the Indian side of her, especially her beloved deceased Nani and Nanaji. Adding to these doubts are the comments from one of her Hebrew school classmates who accuses her of not being Jewish. Her rabbi is able to counsel her by telling her it was okay to have questions and to keep and open mind and heart “find comfort in your doubts.”
While Tara wants to wear her Aunt’s sari, her mother insists she must wear a dress, but Tara is a delightfully strong individual and she has her mind made up. She may be confused about her friends and jealous when her best friend Rebecca starts hanging out with another girl, but she has strong opinions and tastes and they’re not copies of her friends. Her grandmother on her father’s side is kind of a stock character, but I loved her for supporting Tara.
The only problem I had with the book is one I’ve seen in other Bar/Bat Mitzvah fiction, and that is that the coming of age ritual is presented sort of in a vacuum. There may be a certain amount of Hebrew School connected to it, but no synagogue attendance or home rituals. It’s like the ritual is out of context. Aside from this I loved Tara, her “desi mishpacha” and her strong sense of self.