Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee (Wendy Lamb Books, 2005). It's 1978, and Indian-born Maya is the only middle schooler with brown skin in her small Manitoba town. A bully taunts her, Maya's ultra-Indian cousin Pinky attracts Maya's boyfriend, and Maya's embarrassing parents want to move to California! Maybe the Hindu elephant god, Ganesh, can make all her wishes come true. But is that what she really wants? Ages 10-up.
Wonderful debut! I was a kid in the 1970s, just a few years behind Maya, and Banerjee's historical references absolutely boogie! I won't give away too much of this page-turner, but it's a welcome addition to those precious few multicultural titles with humor. Seamless integration of cultural info. Ganesh leads readers in unexpected and enchanting directions. The "exotic"-loving boyfriend is nicely offset by Pinky's enthusiasm for all things American, er, Canadian. Both Indian and universal; who doesn't think their family is weird? Excellent cautionary reference to Nair. When you're ordering your copy of Maya Running, also be sure to pick up The Broken Tusk: Stories of the Hindu God Ganesha (Linnet Books, 1996) by Uma Krishnaswami, which Banerjee references in her acknowledgements.
Mary E. Pearson: author of A Room On Lorelei Street (Henry Holt, June 2005); Scribbler Of Dreams (Harcourt, 2001); and David V. God (Harcourt, 2000). Visit also Mary E. Pearson's Journal.