• Abby

REC: Desi Characters



Who doesn't enjoy sassy bad-ass desi characters? I sure do! So, here you go, a list of books with awesome desi characters. Enjoy! (Click on the title for more info about each book)



1. Star Touched Queen - Roshani Chokshi


Blurb:


Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?


Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…


But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.


2. When Dimple met Rishi - Sandhya Menon


Blurb:


Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family—and from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?


Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.


The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitating toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?


Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.


3. Cast in Firelight - Dana Brown


Blurb:


Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people.


Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who's mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child.


Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery's most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet.


Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross...and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead.


Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery's fate is in the hands of rivals..? Fiancées..? Partners..? Whatever they are, it's complicated and bound for greatness or destruction.


4. American Betiya - Anuradha D. Rajurkar


Blurb:


Fans of Sandhya Menon, Erika Sanchez and Jandy Nelson will identify with this powerful story of a young artist grappling with first love, family boundaries, and the complications of a cross-cultural relationship.


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.


Winner of the SCBWI Emerging Voices award, Anuradha Rajurkar takes an honest look at the ways cultures can clash in an interracial relationship. Braiding together themes of sexuality, artistic expression, and appropriation, she gives voice to a girl claiming ownership of her identity, one shattered stereotype at a time.


5. When Tara Met Farah - Tara Pammi


Nineteen-year-old Tara Muvvala didn’t mean to lead a double life. But her bone-deep aversion to math + a soul-deep desire to please her mother = her failing math grade + exploding food vlog ‘this masala life’.


Enter her mother’s research intern and resident math genius Farah Ahmed. Tara makes a deal with Farah - help her pass the math course and she’ll welcome Farah into the local Bollywood Drama & Dance Society.


Grumpy girl gets life lessons…


After losing her mom to a heart attack, dumping her small-minded boyfriend (she’s

bisexual, not confused) and reluctantly moving to the US to be near her dad - all in the span of eighteen months, twenty-three-year-old Farah has hit the full quota on LIFE. Two things keep her going - her internship with a brilliant statistics professor and the possibility of meeting her dancing idol through the Bollywood Drama & Dance Society. That is, if her new hot-mess housemate will let her.


Soon Tara and Farah are bonding over chicken biryani, dancing to Bollywood Beats at midnight and kissing... against all the odds. And maybe beginning to realize that while life’s even more complicated than math, love is the one variable that changes everything!


Will they realize that together they have the recipe for a Happily Ever After?


6. Hanu and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating - Adiba Jaigirdar


Blurb:


Everyone likes Humaira "Hani" Khan—she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship…with a girl her friends absolutely hate—Ishita "Ishu" Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.


Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after.


7. The Henna Wars - Adiba Jaigirdar


Blurb:


When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.


When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.


Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.


8. Aru Shah and the End of Time - Adiba Jaigirdar


Blurb:


Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?


One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.


But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.


The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?


9. Amal Unbound - Aisha Saeed


Blurb:


Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.


Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal–especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.


10. The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali - Sabina Ali


Blurb:


Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.


But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.


Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?



That's all for today, my book witches/wizards. See you soon!


XOXO,

Abby

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