Author: Nidhi Chanani
About: Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most important, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri’s mom avoids these questions – the topic of India is permanently closed. For Pri, her mothe’s homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she finds a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colourful than any guidebook or Bollywood film. But is this the real India? And what is that shadow lurking in the background? To learn the truth, Pri must travel farther than she’s ever dared and find the family she never knew. In this heart-warming debut, Nidhi Chanani weaves a tale about the hardship and self-discovery that is born from juggling two cultures and two worlds.
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Written as a graphic novel, the author is able to capture the nuances of the characters’ personalities in the way the images are captured. This style also makes a mature, sensitive story more easy to read. Children who have experienced what it's like to live in a culture that's different from that of their homeland will relate to Priyanka’s dilemmas. For that matter, any teenager at the threshold of self-discovery will be able to connect with this story.
I did, however, feel that the characters lacked adequate depth. For instance, the entire incident revolving Pri’s negative reaction to her uncle being occupied with his baby was dealt with very superficially and hence, tends to come across as less convincing, even though there have been many children who have gone through this feeling of loneliness after a new baby has entered the family. But then, again, maybe as an adult my expectations towards the way in which character relationships are dealt with, may be different from those of the intended audience.
In addition, the way in which magic is dealt with in the story does not have its expected impact on the reader. It seems like a fantasy prop to back the story, rather than an authentic and seamless part of the narrative.
Otherwise, the story by itself is a great one to lead children into discussions about identity, culture, and family. It is also an interesting provocation to get young children to think about the impact of migration (especially when it is involuntary).
With the author being an Indian American herself, it is evident that the idea and concept of the story may have stemmed from her personal memories and experiences. The fact that it has female characters making brave choices gives young readers a relevant message: You have the power to empower yourself.
Priyanka finds an old Pashmina shawl which belongs to her mother.whenever she wraps it around herself,she reaches to India,a colourful and exciting world she has never been to.Story highlights about the culture of India.