Stranger on the Home Front: A Story of Indian Immigrants and World War I

Jolly Fish Pr. (I Am America). Jan. 2021. 160p. Tr $28.50. ISBN 9781631634864; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781631634871.
Gr 3-6–Set in San Francisco on the eve of the United States’ entrance into World War I, this is the story of Margaret Singh. Margaret has tried to fit in among her white classmates as much as possible, but her blended white American and Indian heritage makes her efforts difficult at times. After eavesdropping on a conversation between her father and other men, Margaret learns of her father’s support of the Ghadar Party, a group working to overthrow British rule in India. The narrative, which is supplemented with journal entries, newspaper reports, and black-and-white illustrations, keeps readers interested throughout. Chhabra deftly develops conflict in the novel through Margaret’s friendship with Betty; Margaret’s love for her country and her family; and the hypocrisy of U.S. ideals juxtaposed with immigration and racist policies. The themes of loyalty, family, friendship, and activism come through naturally. An excellent author’s note at the beginning provides context and definitions for words and events presented within the novel. A time line is also included.
VERDICT Chhabra executes this #OwnVoices historical fiction well; libraries with the “American Girl” and “Dear America” series should consider this for their collections.

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