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In the Key of Nira Ghani

304p. Running Pr. Teen. Apr. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780762465477.
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Gr 9 Up—Nira is the only child of a strict, lower middle class Guyanese couple living in America with her loving, wise grandmother. Expectations are high, a medical career the only acceptable one, while Nira identifies as a self-taught trumpet player. The postcolonial reality of a heightened generation gap in the family takes the form of sarcasm, which invades most of Nira's early interactions with her parents. They do not support her music, but her grandmother's peaceful presence with a cup of tea mitigates much of the conflict. When Nira develops a crush on Noah and hears about the competitive auditions for the school jazz band, her social horizons start to shift, as well as her relationship with her stunning cousin, Farah, who has a better wardrobe and a more financially successful set of immigrant parents. When Nira goes on vacation with Farah and gets to know her rebellious cousin better, her insecurity and jealousy come to the surface, but she soon realizes that not every boy likes the prettiest girl on the block—some are attracted to most authentic. Teens looking for characters capable of compassion and forgiveness, as well as characters who transcend the binary stereotypes of a good and bad girl, might find a friend in Nira, relief in Noah, and compassion for the flashier and unhappier Farah.
VERDICT A younger high school crowd with an appetite for snark will enjoy the bumpy road that Nira walks toward authenticity, love, and true friendship.

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