By Varsha Bajaj
Available now from Albert Whitman & Company
Abby Spencer doesn't know her father. She knows the story of how her parents went separate ways after college - with him going all the way back to India - and her mother's attempts to contact him failed. But when she nearly dies from a surprise allergy, she and her mom know that it's time to contact him, if only to get his medical history.
Abby Spencer also doesn't know that her father is India's biggest movie star.
ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD is a Cinderella story wrapped up in a story about experiencing a new culture with a delicious cherry-on-top of complex family relationships. There's joy, there's frustration, there's sadness that communication never happened earlier. ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD is a super fun book, but it's not afraid to get real. Especially not when it comes to the viciousness of the paparazzi. (Strangely timely, considering current efforts in the US to prevent paparazzi from taking photos of celebrity's children.)
From the cover, I thought that ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD was a YA novel. However, Abby is thirteen and this is firmly middle grade territory. I do think that the cover means that an older teen reader won't be afraid to carry it around without shame. As it is middle grade, what little romance is included is sweet and pretty chaste. I thought it was cute and added to the story without taking away from the family drama.
I recommend ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD to readers interested in non-nuclear families, modern Indian culture, and anyone who has ever dreamed that their parent was a movie star all along.