Book Review: Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
By Kim Taylor-Cloud, Youth Services Librarian
Graphic Novel (Realistic/some Fantasy)
Pri is an Indian-American teenager who dislikes school, argues with her mom, and draws comics. She wants to know about India and the life her mother left behind, including the father she never knew, but gets no answers. Then she finds an old suitcase in the closet that has a pashmina (an Indian shawl), and puts it on. Through this shawl she is transported to India and magical places she only dreamed of. But it India really like that, and will she find out?
Chanani gets across that sense of feeling left out, whether it’s around adults, in school, or in life generally. Pri wants to know more about where she came from, and isn’t bothered about how rude or thoughtless she is while trying to find out. She has plenty of normal teen concerns (her clothes, her looks, her talent, her family), but her feeling of disconnection goes beyond that into larger questions of where she belongs in the world. But this isn’t an “issue” book, and while it grapples with identity and culture, it is very entertaining. It’s a good, fast read, with an easy to follow panel format. It is primarily in black and white, changing to color during fantasy sequences, making it obvious where the story goes off into flights of imagination. The artwork is simple but effective, and you don’t need to be Indian to be drawn into the cultural immersion. Fair warning to guys: this book is definitely aimed at girls. Social issues include: bullying, pregnancy, poverty, culture clashes.
Thanks for reading! Further questions about this book or others like it, please comment!