American Betiya

American Betiya

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Author: Anuradha D. Rajurkar

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (2021)

For ages 12-17

Rani Kelkar has never lied to her parents, until she meets Oliver. The same qualities that draw her in—his tattoos, his charisma, his passion for art—make him her mother's worst nightmare.

They begin dating in secret, but when Oliver's troubled home life unravels, he starts to ask more of Rani than she knows how to give, desperately trying to fit into her world, no matter how high the cost. When a twist of fate leads Rani from Evanston, Illinois to Pune, India for a summer, she has a reckoning with herself—and what's really brewing beneath the surface of her first love.

"A beautiful, nuanced exploration of self-actualization, love, sex, and the complicated intersection of all three. From its witty banter and feminist overtones to its portrayal of the dire consequences of gaslighting and cultural appropriation, I loved every minute of this exquisite story. I can’t wait to read what Anuradha D. Rajurkar writes next!"

–Nora Carpenter

"An eye-opening, edgy, emotional exploration of identity, love, family and clashing culture, American Betiya is an unputdownable must-read."

–Liza Wiemer

"Laced with poetic and rich writing, American Betiya candidly captures the heartbreaking impetuousness of that all-consuming first love, the tightrope we walk as we seek to navigate cultural tensions, and, most importantly, the risks we must take to spread our wings and find ourselves.”

–Gae Polisner
“I was immediately captivated by Rani’s unique voice, and her raw sincerity kept me hooked through every step of her journey. This book is overflowing with honesty, and stunningly beautiful.”

–Akemi Dawn Bowman

"American Betiya is about Rani, an Indian American teen with a photographer’s eye and dreams of medical school who experiences first love with a white American boy against her family’s traditions. Beautifully written, this story tackles racism, identity, and learning what you really want.” 

–Rajani LaRocca