During the fall leading up to her bat mitzvah, Tara (Hindi for “star”) Feinstein has a lot more than her Torah portion on her mind. Between Hebrew school and study sessions with the rabbi, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to hang out with her best friend Ben-o–who might also be her boyfriend–and her other best friend, Rebecca, who’s getting a little too cozy with that snotty Sheila Rosenberg. Not to mention working on her robotics project with the class clown Ryan Berger, or figuring out what to do with a priceless heirloom sari that she accidentally ruined. Amid all this drama, Tara considers how to balance her Indian and Jewish identities and what it means to have a bat mitzvah while questioning her faith. – Goodreads
I adore this book. My only regret is that I did not read it sooner. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is the story of Tara who is not sure of herself. Not only is she in middle school (which is the toughest period for anyone), but she’s also fighting between being too Indian and too Jewish. While both of her parents love her and obviously want just want what’s best for Tara, Tara isn’t sure herself.
Does she believe in God enough to have her Bat Mitzvah? Tara is such an adorable middle grade character that I spend most of my time wanting to hug and squeeze and tell her that she would be okay. Maybe not at that moment, but she would be. She’s scared she’s lost her best friend, she’s scared she’s falling for her other friend. What Freedman did was create a universal story that captures the feeling of middle school. Tara loves movie nights with her best friend, she deal And she continues to practice for a Bat Mitzvah, where a good portion of her classmates are either making fun of her for being half Indian or the fact her mother isn’t really Jewish because she converted.
It wasn’t too long ago that Id almost lost Rebecca–I’d taken her for granted, and she went and found herself another best friend. That should have woken me up, but it hadn’t. Probably I was a very terrible person.–ARC pg 210
I loved Tara. I loved how relatable she was. I loved that she was jealous, that she questioned things, that she worried that she ruined a family heirloom. She wasn’t a perfect character, but her growth throughout My Basmati Bat Mitzvah was amazing. What was awesome was that Freedman had major character growth for multiple characters and she wrote a book which includes the parents! You know what I love in Middle Grade books and Young Adult books? When parents are featured. I have a friend that calls them a mythical unicorn and it’s true! It’ so rare but when they’re done, and done well, it’s worth it.
Although I waited far too long to read My Basmati Bat Mitzvah it quickly became a new favorite.