The Official Blurb for My Basmati Bat Mitzvah

“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.

With the cross-cultural charm of Bend It Like Beckham, this delightful debut novel is a classic coming-of-age story and young romance with universal appeal.”

Middle School Reunion

Okay, so… I recently attended my middle school reunion. For many years, I avoided attending my high school reunions, because truthfully, high school was not the favorite time of my life, okay? I’m over it now, but still.

In point of fact, the people I went to middle school with are basically the same people I went to high school with, but I liked them all better when we were in middle school, so I decided to go.

And guess what? Not only was it not terrible, it was also pretty great. It was a low-key affair, put together by two of my more intrepid Facebook friends who said, “hey! we’re all friends on Facebook but most of us have not seen each other in twenty-plus years, so who wants to get together and see who got bald, fat, etc.?” There was a chorus of “me!”s and “I do!”s, but then only about 15 alumni and some of their partners showed up, which turned out to be just the right amount. Because you know what I found out? Most of us (including me) turned out quite alright. Some of us (including me) are actually nicer people than we were back in the seventh grade, if you can believe that. And I declare we are all of us (every one of us) as good-looking as (if not better-looking than) we were back in the day (sporting a lot less acne, for one thing).

I found that I had no idea why some of us had “stopped being friends” at some point. I found out my sworn enemy had no idea [he or she] was ever my sworn enemy, which made me feel a little stupid for holding on to… whatever it was… for so many years. I discovered I could pick any one of them out in a crowd, and call them by name, even those I hadn’t seen or heard of since we were kids; everyone looked pretty basically the same as they had in middle school, with a little more gray around the temples (not a great look for a middle-schooler, but I think you know what I mean).

Anyway, the point is… take some advice from a middle-aged lady. There’s nothing–NOTHING–that happens in middle school or high school that’s worth holding a grudge over. Because one day you’ll be walking down the street or attending a reunion or something and you’ll run into someone you once knew, and you’ll realize… that you have no idea why you ever stopped being friends, and if you weren’t ever friends, you’ll realize you have no idea why. And just like that, you’ll become Facebook friends (or whatever the future equivalent is) and they’ll put up pictures of their kids or grandkids or dogs or parrots and you’ll probably regret that you weren’t a nicer person back then, and then you’ll realize the other person is thinking the exact same thing, and then you realize… you’re actually both pretty nice people. And just like that…  you’re free. It never even happened.
P + L 4ever

Basmati_cover“So maybe having a bat mitzvah wasn’t my idea originally, and maybe I hadn’t completely made up my own mind about it, but who was that know-it-all Sheila Rosenberg, with her big hair and rubbery lips and runny mascara to wrinkle her nose at my ‘om’ necklace and say whether I’m Jewish enough to have one or not? I stared at the back of her smug, composed, curly-haired head and made up my mind: I am having a bat mitzvah, Sheila, I thought at her, and you’re not invited.”

—from My Basmati Bat Mitzvah