Wanted to love but just ehhh....

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood - Varsha Bajaj

Actual score 2.75


When I picked up this ebook, I thought I would in love with it. The title is so cute and the brown skinned girl on the cover is even cuter! I thought the book would be about a girl discovering her unknown culture from being a product of a Interracial union(She was half Indian and half white). However I can't help but have been a little disappointed by the way culture was handled in the book.


The story centers around Abby Spencer, a 13 year old girl who's never known her father but after a near deadly allergic reaction to coconut, she's forced to learn about her father's medical history and reach out the the father she's never know. What she doesn't plan is that he's a big Bollywood movie star!


Now I think the concept of this book is really cute. Imagine finding out your dad is a Bollywood movie star! Sick, right? Unfortunately i had a few problems with the book that maybe other readers never make themselves aware of.


I think the biggest problem I had was her mother told her nothing about her Dad or his culture. I can understand that she was a little upset by the situation, She may or may not have still had feelings for him; but that isn't an excuse to deny someone access to their other culture. Even if you know nothing about it, when you have bi-racial children, at some point you have to start talking about these things because it may be something the child struggles with in the future.


It just seemed as though she didn't think of the father of her child's heritage was important enough to learn about it. She just saw him as "Exotic". I hate the word exotic to describe POC, it just makes POC feel as though we can't be universally relatable. Maybe i feel this way because my boyfriend is bi-racial and he has a deep sense of both cultures(Haitian and Colombian). He didn't grow up with both parents living in the same house but he took the time to learn about the culture he wasn't always surrounded with. I would have liked Abby's mom if she would have put some kind of effort into discovering Abby's culture with her. Instead, she chose not to worry herself with it until Abby has this life threatening experience. But as far as Abby's dad, her really stepped up! I 'm glad she didn't make him some deadbeat dad!


Also because Abby pretty much grew up in a small community where almost everyone was in essence white and privileged, seeing how people in India lived was somewhat....unmoving for her. I guess privileged people don't have these conversations with their children. My family is from Cuba, so I can't remember a moment where I wasn't reminded that I was more fortunate than some people around the world. Yea, i get it. It's a culture shock, but these are all things i learned at such a young age. I thought her mom could have been a better teacher in terms of teaching her about what goes on beyond her perfect little world.


Abby's racial Identity was something I had issues with as well.She didn't begin considering herself bi-racial until the end of the book, which has lead me to believe she's looks "white enough" to not have been bothered with the "What are you" questions. Maybe the fact that she was bi racial but didn't identify with it until the end of the book really bothered me.


Throughout the book I couldn't help feeling like her friend, Priya, should have been the main character. Perhaps it would have been more interesting if Priya had been the main character, taken out the Bi-Racial aspect of the book and center around Priya being the product of an unplanned teen pregnancy. Being raised by a single Indian mom(which is almost unheard of) in the USA and finding out her dad is a Bollywood actor! To me perhaps that would have been more interesting.

I think the most redeemable characters in the book were Shiva, a person who worked for her dad's family, her grandmother, Tara and her love interest Shaan. I wish she would have described her love interest more. I get that he was cute but it always seems as though authors have no problem describing characters of European descent but POC get the brief, boring descriptions, if at all.


Overall, I think the book is cute but there are better coming of age stories featuring young girls with Indian ancestry.


Provided by Netgalley for an honest review.