Karthik’s summer vacation isn’t going as planned: his father insists he deliver groceries for the family’s grocery store. Over the summer, he understands a Financial Crisis is hurting the store his father has carefully built. What will happen?
While Karthik is delivering groceries (and stopping between deliveries for ice cream at his favorite store, which angers his father), he meets a theater student who has written a play about Leonard Bernstein as a young person. She thinks Karthik would be ideal to play the young Lenny. Karthik knows nothing about the theater or acting … how does this make sense?
In elementary, junior, and high school, and on into college (an extra year in college because of my involvement in theater, thank you very much), I was determined to be an actor, a playwright, a director. This book speaks to my heart. I believe it will do the same for readers in your life with the same passion.
Karthik and his friends are multi-layered characters. They are going into high school, growing up. Juhi Shah is a girl Karthik keeps his eye on. Could they be friends? She works at a nearby restaurant that may be stealing customers from Karthik’s father. How can he like her when she is interested in the boy who has bullied Karthik for years?
Economic challenges, job loss, racism (“Indian girls don’t date Indian boys”), bullying, and our changing aesthetic … the story brings all of these topics into the complex weaving that creates a page-turning story. When I finished, I immediately looked to see what else this author has written … thankfully, quite a lot. I know what I’m reading next.
Ultimately, this book is about discovering and following your dreams, whether you’re a middle schooler or an adult. It does so in the best possible way, by telling us stories that build the characters into a cast I’d be proud to work with on any stage. You’ll want to discover Karthik, his friends, and his family for yourself. Read on!
written by Sheela Chari
Harry N. Abrams Books, 2022