Born Confused
by Hidier, Tanuja Desai

Seventeen-year-old Dimple, whose family is from India, discovers that she is not Indian enough for the Indians and not American enough for the Americans, as she sees her hypnotically beautiful, manipulative best friend taking possession of both her heritage and the boy she likes. Reprint.

Tanuja Desai Hidier is the critically acclaimed author of the groundbreaking novelsBombay Blues and Born Confused, which was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and hailed byEntertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone as one of the best YA novels of all time.

Born and raised in the USA, Tanuja is a writer/singer-songwriter now based in London. For more aboutBorn Confused and Bombay Blues, as well as her "booktrack" albums of original songs to accompany them, please visit

Gr. 9-12. Dimple Lala is an ABCD, American Born Confused Desi, a charming, articulate Indian teen who spends her seventeenth summer trying to find herself with both her American friends and her loving immigrant parents who are still steeped in India's traditions and language. Growing up in Springfield, New York, down the street from her blonde, blue-eyed "supertwin," Gwyn, Dimple feels American, and she's rebellious when her parents start talking about finding her "a suitable boy." The arranged meeting with Karsh, a NYU student and son of Indian friends, is predictably strained and frustrating. "It's like Titanic. Without the romance," she confides to Gwyn, a comment she will rue all summer as her best friend gradually takes "the suitable boy." As Gwyn and Karsh move on, Dimple loses herself in her family and her background, only to find her many-cultured self, as well as a stronger, different friendship and "a suitable boy." Dimple is a photographer. Her "third eye" is always with her, and her narrative is a feast for the senses, creating a reading experience that is unusual in YA literature today. Yet this will not be an easy read. While it is the story of every teen, the writing is dense and detailed, with a vocabulary and references that will challenge readers. It's the careful choice of every word that marks this reading experience. ((Reviewed December 15, 2002)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

An Indian-American teen experiences a dizzying summer chasing boys, her best friend, and her identity. Dimple Lala is accustomed to being one of only two Indians in her suburban New Jersey high school, but custom does not lead to comfort, and she feels acutely that she has no real place either in the Indian community of her parents or the American world of her peers. When her best friend Gwyn, blonde, beautiful, and endlessly charismatic, fixes her up with a college boy for her 17th birthday and she becomes monumentally, stinking drunk, her parents decide to take drastic action in the form of an arranged introduction to a "suitable boy." Dimple does her best to fend off their good intentions, but, too late, she finds herself falling in love, almost against her will, with said suitable boy, who actually spins a mean disc as a nightclub DJ. Dimple emerges as a smart, funny, and original voice whose familial, friendship, and identity struggles are both universal and beautifully specific. Newcomer Desai Hidier crafts a frequently hilarious narrative whose familiar teen-quest-for-identity plot is peopled with highly distinctive and likable characters and is overlaid with a fearless and glorious sense of linguistic possibilities that (along with some idiosyncratic punctuation) seems positively Joyceian. The wordplay is fairly simple at first, but as the plot progresses and Dimple's feelings and understandings become more complex, the language becomes increasingly metaphorical and abstract. On a solo nighttime photographic tour through New York, Dimple comes close to a cultural epiphany, and the descriptive language takes off. At one point she describes exiting the New York subway: "From a swift tunnel of cut blackness and counterfeit light through a yellowy pool of candle wax turnstiled, metal still muggy to the touch from that rush of hungering hands and up the stairs and out the narrow door into that greater darkness but this one enormously ongoing and violently adorned." If the plot is a tad predictable, if the love interest is just about too good to be true-who cares? The exuberant, almost psychedelic linguistic riffs will catch readers up in a breathtaking experience that is beyond virtually anything being published for teens today. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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