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The Not-So-Star Spangled Life of Sunita Sen: 03/20/12

cover art

Originally published in 1993 as The Sunita Experiment and reissued in 2005 as The Not-So-Star Spangled Life of Sunita Sen by Mitali Perkins is is about a typical Bay Area teen who doesn't feel all that typical. Her family is from India but she was born here in California. Her two cultures are coming to a head now that her grandparents have moved into her home.

In 1993, Sunita wouldn't have been as typical a Bay Area teen as she would be now. In the 1990s, Asians accounted for about 15% of the total population (1990 US Census data). By the most recent Census data, Asians account for a third of the total population, and that third is divided up evenly between Chinese and Indian Asians.

Anyway, keeping in mind that the story's taking place in the early 1990s, Sunita feels out of place, especially when her mother starts acting and dressing the part of a traditional Indian wife, when in the past she hasn't. At school, Sunita's in a class that is trying to celebrate everyone's roots but she feels alone with her single pin on the map when most of her classmates have multiple pins all over Europe.

So Sunita rebells under the pressure from traditionalism at home and her Euro-centric classmates at school. She can't decide where she belongs and she doesn't want to be part of either. Keeping in mind that she's a young teen, her rebellion and mopping makes sense.

Five stars.

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