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How to Find What You're Not Looking For

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New historical fiction from a Newbery Honor-winning author about how middle schooler Ariel Goldberg's life changes when her big sister elopes following the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, and she's forced to grapple with both her family's prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences, as she defines her own beliefs. Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg's life feels like the m New historical fiction from a Newbery Honor-winning author about how middle schooler Ariel Goldberg's life changes when her big sister elopes following the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, and she's forced to grapple with both her family's prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences, as she defines her own beliefs. Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg's life feels like the moment after the final guest leaves the party. Her family's Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, and her older sister has eloped with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. As change becomes Ariel's only constant, she's left to hone something that will be with her always--her own voice.


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New historical fiction from a Newbery Honor-winning author about how middle schooler Ariel Goldberg's life changes when her big sister elopes following the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, and she's forced to grapple with both her family's prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences, as she defines her own beliefs. Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg's life feels like the m New historical fiction from a Newbery Honor-winning author about how middle schooler Ariel Goldberg's life changes when her big sister elopes following the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, and she's forced to grapple with both her family's prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences, as she defines her own beliefs. Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg's life feels like the moment after the final guest leaves the party. Her family's Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, and her older sister has eloped with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. As change becomes Ariel's only constant, she's left to hone something that will be with her always--her own voice.

30 review for How to Find What You're Not Looking For

  1. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    "The Night Diary" is one of my favorite books from recent years, so I was thrilled to discover Veera Hiranandani had written another middle grade book. This new title pays tribute not only to her Hindu heritage, but also her Jewish roots. The Author's notes at the end of the book are such a beautiful summary of Hiranandani's family history and how Ariel Goldberg came to life on its pages. Set in the time right after Loving v. Virginia, the book explores the after effects of marriage between a Je "The Night Diary" is one of my favorite books from recent years, so I was thrilled to discover Veera Hiranandani had written another middle grade book. This new title pays tribute not only to her Hindu heritage, but also her Jewish roots. The Author's notes at the end of the book are such a beautiful summary of Hiranandani's family history and how Ariel Goldberg came to life on its pages. Set in the time right after Loving v. Virginia, the book explores the after effects of marriage between a Jewish young woman and a young man who has Hindu roots. Both families struggle and Ariel especially feels bereft. The subject of dysgraphia is also explored as Ariel's teacher tries a new way to help her express herself on paper. The teacher (Mrs. Fields) is one of my favorite characters as she unlocks the inner poet in Ariel and we have the privilege of reading the poems the are written to express her feelings through the remainder of the book. As Jane, Ariel's friend reminds her-- in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr: Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    CYIReadBooks (Claire)

    Ariel and Leah Goldberg are close knit sisters growing up during the 60’s in a conservative Jewish household. Their parents, Sylvia and Max are devoted to their Jewish heritage and religion. So when Leah invites her boyfriend Raj Jagwani for dinner, you can just imagine Sylvia’s and Max’s surprise and disappointment in Leah and her choice of dating a non Jew. And to top it off, her date is an Indian American. Stunned at the revelation that her parents could be so narrow-minded, Leah decides to el Ariel and Leah Goldberg are close knit sisters growing up during the 60’s in a conservative Jewish household. Their parents, Sylvia and Max are devoted to their Jewish heritage and religion. So when Leah invites her boyfriend Raj Jagwani for dinner, you can just imagine Sylvia’s and Max’s surprise and disappointment in Leah and her choice of dating a non Jew. And to top it off, her date is an Indian American. Stunned at the revelation that her parents could be so narrow-minded, Leah decides to elope with Raj. At that time, the Supreme Court had just ruled that laws banning interracial marriages were illegal. As such, Leah commits to leaving the comfort of her home and marrying Raj. Leah does so, suddenly, leaving Ariel confused and hurt. Ariel, eleven at the time, struggles to understand the significance of Leah’s decision and how her parents can be so blinded by their intolerance for non Jews. Coupled with a form of a learning disability, Ariel turns to poetry as a form of release and revelation. It is through poetry that Ariel learns to cope with family tensions and her own shortcomings. Inspired by true events, the author has done an excellent job at composing a story about familial ties and how love gives one the ability to conquer hate. The story is supported by well developed characters so raw and so real, that it feels like you are there in Ariel’s world living and learning about life, and love. Overall, How to Find What You’re Not Looking For is a brilliant novel and a perfect Own Voices book well suited for the Young Adult and Adult readers. Five amazing stars. I received a finished hardcover book from Kokila through the Bookish First Raffle. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Ariel lives with her parents and sister Leah in Connecticut in 1967, having moved there from Brooklyn when her parents wanted to distance themselves from relatives and relocate their bakery. The family is Jewish, but not as observant as some of the family, which has lead to tensions. Unfortunately, their new town does not have very many Jewish people, and Ariel has experienced some racial tensions, but her parents don't want "to make a fuss". When Leah shares with E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Ariel lives with her parents and sister Leah in Connecticut in 1967, having moved there from Brooklyn when her parents wanted to distance themselves from relatives and relocate their bakery. The family is Jewish, but not as observant as some of the family, which has lead to tensions. Unfortunately, their new town does not have very many Jewish people, and Ariel has experienced some racial tensions, but her parents don't want "to make a fuss". When Leah shares with Ariel that she has met a man she really likes, Raj, she asks Ariel to keep it a secret, because Raj's family is from India, and they are Hindu. He's studying at New York University, and worries that his family won't be any more accepting than Leah's. There are other things going on in Ari's life as well. She has a lot of trouble with her handwriting, and struggles with school assignments, but her mother, even after countless meetings with teachers, just thinks that Ari needs to work harder and everything will be fine. Ari's teacher, Miss Field, is impressed with Ari's poetry, and also encourages to do a report on the recent case of Loving vs. Virginia. After her sister makes a sudden but unsurprising decision regarding Raj, Ari is even more interested in this historic civil rights case. When the bakery falls on hard times and the tension in her family increases, will Ari ever be able to make her parents understand how important it is that they continue to communicate with Leah? Strengths: I love that this is based on the author's own background of having a Jewish American mother and father from Mumbai. We need more stories about families who have been in the US for quite a while; it might help people understand how unnecessary and hurtful the question "Where are you from?" can be. Working in the current event of Loving vs. Virginia gives this a wider historical perspective. The long time family bakery was interesting, and the hard work involved in such an enterprise, and the economic difficulty of running one, was poignant. Leah's struggles with her relationship with Raj, and the parents' objections, were completely realistic for the time, and a good example of how things have changed, if only incrementally. Ari's learning disability (dysgraphia) is one that I haven't seen portrayed in middle grade literature, and the depiction of how she deals with it, how her parents feel about it, and the efforts of the new, young teacher are all interesting. This story combines several different elements in a compelling way that I think will make it a popular choice with many readers. Weaknesses: This was written in the present tense, and for some reason, that seemed odd. Ah. It's because it is also written in the second person, which I didn't realize until just now. So, apparently not a big issue, but reading it felt a little bit like I had an uncomfortable tag poking the back of my neck. Perhaps that was the point? Also, the inclusion of student poetry in books always makes me cringe, since I wrote a lot of poetry until I was in my mid-twenties and should never have shown it to anyone! What I really think: Definitely purchasing. I love the range of Hirandani's work, and look forward to what she writes next. A great addition to historical fiction about the immigrant experience, such as Dumas' It Ain't So Awful, Falafel, Yang's Front Desk, Perkins' You Bring the Distant Near, and Behar's Lucky Broken Girl.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mallory

    I enjoyed this book, but I felt like for a middle grade novel it had a lot to unpack. The writing style was engaging although a few places were a little repetitive. I loved the characters and the tie-in with relevant historical events. The main character Ariel is trying to deal with school with an undiagnosed learning disability and with the aftermath of her older sister running away after their parents refused to let her be with the person she loved. Ariel’s parents were not pleased that Leah f I enjoyed this book, but I felt like for a middle grade novel it had a lot to unpack. The writing style was engaging although a few places were a little repetitive. I loved the characters and the tie-in with relevant historical events. The main character Ariel is trying to deal with school with an undiagnosed learning disability and with the aftermath of her older sister running away after their parents refused to let her be with the person she loved. Ariel’s parents were not pleased that Leah fell in loved with an Indian man who is in Hindu instead of a Jewish man. This is following the Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court ruling. Ariel doesn’t understand why her parents would cut Leah out of their lives and she especially doesn’t understand why Leah would leave her behind without a word like she did. The story is heartfelt and truly a pleasure to read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leah M

    CONTENT WARNING: antisemitism, racism, ableism, xenophobia For an MG book, I felt like this dealt with a lot, but it was done really well. It was written in the second person narrative, which I’m not accustomed to, so it took me a little while to get into it. Ariel is smack dab in the center of a time of great change — political rights, the Vietnam War, and the free love movement was all going on, and is talked about in story. I can only imagine that these times would be confusing for a 12 year o CONTENT WARNING: antisemitism, racism, ableism, xenophobia For an MG book, I felt like this dealt with a lot, but it was done really well. It was written in the second person narrative, which I’m not accustomed to, so it took me a little while to get into it. Ariel is smack dab in the center of a time of great change — political rights, the Vietnam War, and the free love movement was all going on, and is talked about in story. I can only imagine that these times would be confusing for a 12 year old, and Ariel’s story reflects that. As she tries to figure out how she feels about all these issues, a bunch of issues hit closer to home for her with the landmark decision that allows interracial marriage in the country. “So far, nobody has done a report on anything really serious, like the Vietnam War or Dr. Martin Luther kin Jr.’s speeches. There’s been nothing about the protests and riots, nothing about San Francisco and the hippies, or about Thurgood Marshall’s Supreme Court confirmation or the Six-Day War, and nothing about Loving v. Virginia…" Her sister takes advantage of that and marries a young Hindu man from India, sparking strife within her family. Her family cuts her sister Leah off, and Ariel is struck with the loss of her big sister, since Leah was a stabilizing influence in her life. Leah was the one who supported her, explained things to her, and often assisted her with things that her parents were too busy or unable to help with. After Leah is gone, Ariel is left with a major void in her life. “Who else can help you figure out the world in the same way?” On top of that, Ariel struggles with a learning disability. She has difficulty with writing, and her parents consistently tell her to “stop being lazy,” and encourage her to strengthen her hands by working with them in their bakery. The outright ableism made me uncomfortable, especially when it’s employed during a conference with her teacher, who tries to explain her learning disability (dysgraphia) and suggest some helpful techniques to assist her in school. The teacher outright compliments Ariel’s intelligence, while her parents seem to put her down in an effort to contradict the teacher. However, the learning disability is explained clearly enough to make it understandable and I thought it was ultimately dealt with positively. “You want to know if there’s a name for what makes writing difficult.” Prejudice is a major theme throughout the book. While Ariel and her family struggle with antisemitism in the story from a variety of sources, they are also a source of prejudice themselves. Despite being a minority, they still hold prejudicial beliefs of their own, viewing Leah’s husband as a foreigner and turn their backs on their own daughter for marrying someone of a different religion. Raj’s parents aren’t thrilled with their son marrying what they also view as a “foreigner” and someone of a different religion. Ariel voices her questions about the expectations that people place on her and others: “But you wonder, if you were who everyone wants you to be, would it even make a difference?” I love the fact that Hiranandani wrote this book as someone who has experienced life as someone who has grown up biracial, with a Jewish American mother and an Indian immigrant father. It lends additional context to a potentially sensitive story, and allows her to tell it in a way that resonates without being harmful to the community. I like to think that society has come a long way, but it makes me realize how little things have changed in some ways. This is an important book that has a story that benefits the reader, and the fact that this is designed for young readers is incredible.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nicole M. Hewitt

    This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction This book takes us back to the turmoil of the 1960's. When Ariel's older sister runs off to marry an Indian immigrant it tears her family and her world apart. Her parents refuse to speak to her sister---they always imagined their daughter would marry a Jewish boy and carry on their family's rich and hard-earned history. The story takes places just after the Loving vs. Virginia decision and during the Civil Rights movem This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction This book takes us back to the turmoil of the 1960's. When Ariel's older sister runs off to marry an Indian immigrant it tears her family and her world apart. Her parents refuse to speak to her sister---they always imagined their daughter would marry a Jewish boy and carry on their family's rich and hard-earned history. The story takes places just after the Loving vs. Virginia decision and during the Civil Rights movement and the conflict over the Vietnam War. Ariel is just starting to understand the injustices of the world and form her own opinions as she sees the conflicting views of people around her. Ariel is also dealing with dysgraphia and the repercussions of that and she experiences anti-Semitism as well. It's a lot for one girl to deal with! But as her life is spiraling out of control, she is determined to at least set things right with her sister, a task that may be out of her own control. The story is told in second person, a POV you don't read very often, but I thought it worked well for this story. I loved that the title and chapter titles give the feel of a self-help instructional manual as Ariel navigates her new reality. ***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stacey DeCotis (Reading in the Middle Grades)

    Told in 2nd person through Ariel’s eyes, this historical fiction story will be a great addition to #middlegrade classroom libraries. Set right after Loving vs Virginia which overturned the law banning interracial marriages. When Ariel’s older sister Leah elopes with Raj - who is not Jewish (Ariel and Leah are Jewish) and comes from India, their parents disown her. Ariel tries to find Leah while also struggling at school, standing up to a bully, and trying to figure out why her parents won’t acce Told in 2nd person through Ariel’s eyes, this historical fiction story will be a great addition to #middlegrade classroom libraries. Set right after Loving vs Virginia which overturned the law banning interracial marriages. When Ariel’s older sister Leah elopes with Raj - who is not Jewish (Ariel and Leah are Jewish) and comes from India, their parents disown her. Ariel tries to find Leah while also struggling at school, standing up to a bully, and trying to figure out why her parents won’t accept Leah and her husband. I loved how Ariel found free verse poetry as a way to express herself after struggling with dysgraphia. Thank you @penguinrandomhouse for an #advancedreaderscopy 📖 OUT IN SEPTEMBER!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Raven ✿

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. i didn't know what to expect when I first started this one. Probably because i was still getting used to it being written in second person. i really liked the fact that the author put us in Ariel's shoes, while also it was still Ariel's point of view (if that makes sense). I learned so much from this book. it wasn't what I expected it to be, to be honest, it shocked me in a good way. i also loved the historical events included in this story (Martin Luther King's protests, the Loving v Virginia c i didn't know what to expect when I first started this one. Probably because i was still getting used to it being written in second person. i really liked the fact that the author put us in Ariel's shoes, while also it was still Ariel's point of view (if that makes sense). I learned so much from this book. it wasn't what I expected it to be, to be honest, it shocked me in a good way. i also loved the historical events included in this story (Martin Luther King's protests, the Loving v Virginia case, etc). this whole book was a joy to read and I loved every part.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Nixon

    4.5 stars 👏

  10. 4 out of 5

    Afoma (Reading Middle Grade)

    How to Find What You’re Not Looking For is a poignant, moving, and brilliantly written middle grade novel about family, identity, and love. Set against the background of the 1968 Loving vs. Virginia verdict and written from a second-person point of view, this book follows an insightful young Jewish protagonist confronting the world’s harsh realities and inequities. This one is a real treat for tween and adult readers. Read my full review on my blog. Many thanks to the publisher for an eARC of this How to Find What You’re Not Looking For is a poignant, moving, and brilliantly written middle grade novel about family, identity, and love. Set against the background of the 1968 Loving vs. Virginia verdict and written from a second-person point of view, this book follows an insightful young Jewish protagonist confronting the world’s harsh realities and inequities. This one is a real treat for tween and adult readers. Read my full review on my blog. Many thanks to the publisher for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Overall, this is a good book. This is a historical fiction set in the 1960s written in second person. I think the book does a great time of covering important things in a way that is interesting and understandable for children. It did feel at times parts were repetitive or not flushed out enough but overall a great read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennybeast

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It took me a while to get used to the 2nd person narrative voice -- I admit I find it a bit intrusive and distracting, but after while I just got used to the rhythm of it, and I think it works. I LOVED Ari's poetry, I loved how her teacher found ways to help her with dysgraphia, I loved the ongoing conversation about interracial marriage and how strongly the setting (just after the Loving v. Virginia decision) supported Leah and Raj's story. It's kind of fascinating to imagine being young in a t It took me a while to get used to the 2nd person narrative voice -- I admit I find it a bit intrusive and distracting, but after while I just got used to the rhythm of it, and I think it works. I LOVED Ari's poetry, I loved how her teacher found ways to help her with dysgraphia, I loved the ongoing conversation about interracial marriage and how strongly the setting (just after the Loving v. Virginia decision) supported Leah and Raj's story. It's kind of fascinating to imagine being young in a time when Hippies were this new unknown and dangerous countercultural movement, when the Civil Rights marches were on the news, and the Beatles and Elvis were big -- it's not that long ago, but somehow this book brings it home to me in a really big way. Ariel is going through a lot, but she brings her family to a better place. I was surprised that one of the solutions in the end is that the family moves into an apartment over the bakery -- why did they never consider that before? Maybe it was a size thing? Was that apartment always there? If so, wouldn't that have been the obvious solution all along, to live in an apartment you own rather than rent? Anyway, that's a nitpicky sort of confusion when really I enjoyed the book very much. It's a powerful story about finding your voice. Advanced reader's copy provided by Edelweiss.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Steph L

    When I first saw this book I was both excited and wary. As someone who has challenges like the main character, I wasn’t sure how this would be handled in the story. This is one of my favorite books of the year because of the representation with the main character being Jewish and having learning challenges. I love Historical Fiction, however, I know that some can deal with heavy topics. This was the first time I’ve read a book that talks about Loving V Virginia. This author’s note at the end wa When I first saw this book I was both excited and wary. As someone who has challenges like the main character, I wasn’t sure how this would be handled in the story. This is one of my favorite books of the year because of the representation with the main character being Jewish and having learning challenges. I love Historical Fiction, however, I know that some can deal with heavy topics. This was the first time I’ve read a book that talks about Loving V Virginia. This author’s note at the end was lovely as you find out about the inspiration for the story. I loved the characters in this book. They were flawed in places, but at the end of the day, they had a love for each other. I enjoyed the story of How To Find What You’re Not Looking For because of how all the elements were woven into the story. This story was filled with heavy topics and done light hearted topics. I loved the writing by Veera Hiranandani. This was the first book I’ve read by this author and I will look into her backlist. This would be an enjoyable book for anyone, but in particular: people with learning challenges and people who are Jewish would really enjoy this.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christine (Queen of Books)

    How to Find What You're Not Looking For is a great middle grade historical fiction set in the late 1960s. Twelve-year-old Ariel is faced with many challenges; among them, a severed relationship with her sister, antisemitism, and an undiagnosed learning disorder. Ariel's sister, a white Jewish girl, marries her Indian boyfriend (who is not Jewish), leading to overt prejudice from Ariel's parents and Ariel essentially cut off from a relationship with her sister. The author deftly incorporates the How to Find What You're Not Looking For is a great middle grade historical fiction set in the late 1960s. Twelve-year-old Ariel is faced with many challenges; among them, a severed relationship with her sister, antisemitism, and an undiagnosed learning disorder. Ariel's sister, a white Jewish girl, marries her Indian boyfriend (who is not Jewish), leading to overt prejudice from Ariel's parents and Ariel essentially cut off from a relationship with her sister. The author deftly incorporates the Loving v. Virginia decision, providing a historical backdrop to the plot. At the same time, Ariel is confronted with anti-Semitic remarks from a classmate. School is difficult for Ariel in that she struggles to form letters/write while also thinking about the words she intends to write down. Poetry becomes one way in which she can better harness her thoughts; poems distilling her complicated feelings feature throughout and give an additional layer to the novel. I found this to be a really lovely story of a young girl finding her voice and agency. And the author's note was a beautiful addition. Thank you to Penguin Teen and BookishFirst for a free copy of this title.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Harrison

    4.5 Stars There’s a lot to unpack in How to Find What You’re Not Looking For — religious and racial discrimination, money problems and learning disability — and yet, it all comes together in a cohesive read that is both compelling and thought-provoking. Everything in Ariel’s life is up in the air. Though her parents are well-meaning, Ariel can’t help but think they’re wrong on a number of issues. Ariel likes her new brother-in-law, and hates that her parents have cut all contact with her sister. T 4.5 Stars There’s a lot to unpack in How to Find What You’re Not Looking For — religious and racial discrimination, money problems and learning disability — and yet, it all comes together in a cohesive read that is both compelling and thought-provoking. Everything in Ariel’s life is up in the air. Though her parents are well-meaning, Ariel can’t help but think they’re wrong on a number of issues. Ariel likes her new brother-in-law, and hates that her parents have cut all contact with her sister. The family bakery is Ariel’s second home, but they don’t seem to care. Ariel’s teacher has finally come up with a system that’s helping her excel, but her mother insists Ariel is fine as she is. Ariel’s situation — the lack of control and desire to change things — is one a lot of readers will see mimicked in their own lives. The circumstances may differ, but the feeling of helplessness is universal. Ariel is a strong character who learns she doesn’t have to go things alone to accomplish them. Author Veera Hiranandani does a great job introducing historical aspects in smooth and natural ways. She makes tough topics accessible without feeling like they’re “dumbed down.” How to Find What You’re Not Looking For is a well-paced read that’s equal parts intriguing and heartfelt.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Ariel Goldberg's life turns upside down when her 18 year old sister elopes with her boyfriend Raj--not a Jewish man, a dark-skinned Indian man. Their parents (Raj's, too) are beside themselves that their children would turn their backs on culture and tradition. It's 1968, a tumultuous year for race relations. The Loving vs Virginia decision has legalized inter-racial marriage. Martin Luther King is assassinated. It's not easy. Hiranandani deftly presents the dichotomy of antisemitism and white p Ariel Goldberg's life turns upside down when her 18 year old sister elopes with her boyfriend Raj--not a Jewish man, a dark-skinned Indian man. Their parents (Raj's, too) are beside themselves that their children would turn their backs on culture and tradition. It's 1968, a tumultuous year for race relations. The Loving vs Virginia decision has legalized inter-racial marriage. Martin Luther King is assassinated. It's not easy. Hiranandani deftly presents the dichotomy of antisemitism and white privilege. As well as racist questions that people of color hear everyday. Where are you really from? When are you going home? Fantastic historical fiction with details I remember well--Breck shampoo, tuna casserole (blech!), IBM Selectric typewriters. Well developed characters. I really loved this book. The only thing that I found unsettling was the use of the "second person" narrator. "You go to the store with your sister. She introduces you to her boyfriend, Raj." The writing was better than that, but I couldn't get used to it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michele Knott

    Another historical fiction story from Veera Hiranandani, this time focusing on her Jewish roots. Set during the time following the "Loving vs. Virginia" case, this story follows Ari after her older sister Leah secretly marries her Indian boyfriends and leaves with him, severing her ties with her family. Ari and Leah's parents want Leah to marry a Jewish boy and cannot accepts Leah's relationship. This becomes more complicated when Leah announces she's pregnant. Ari has a hard time accepting her Another historical fiction story from Veera Hiranandani, this time focusing on her Jewish roots. Set during the time following the "Loving vs. Virginia" case, this story follows Ari after her older sister Leah secretly marries her Indian boyfriends and leaves with him, severing her ties with her family. Ari and Leah's parents want Leah to marry a Jewish boy and cannot accepts Leah's relationship. This becomes more complicated when Leah announces she's pregnant. Ari has a hard time accepting her parents' decision while also trying to figure out her own feelings - does she accept her parents old ways of thinking, or does her ideas about relationships change with the times? More upheaval comes with the uncertainty of her parents bakery needing to be sold and the understanding of her own learning disability. The narrating is different as it utilizes the second person point of view and each chapter title uses "how to". It's a longer story (upwards of 400 pages), I would recommend 5th grade+.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lara Cowell

    Ariel “Ari” Goldberg, the 11 year old Jewish-American protagonist in Veera Hiranandani’s terrific novel, How to Find What You're Not Looking For, discovers that her 18 year old sister, Leah, talented dancer and model student, and the focus of their parents’ aspirations, has fallen in love with Raj, a graduate student from India. When the elder Goldbergs oppose the match, because they desire their daughters to marry within their religion, Leah and Raj decide to elope without so much as a word. Ar Ariel “Ari” Goldberg, the 11 year old Jewish-American protagonist in Veera Hiranandani’s terrific novel, How to Find What You're Not Looking For, discovers that her 18 year old sister, Leah, talented dancer and model student, and the focus of their parents’ aspirations, has fallen in love with Raj, a graduate student from India. When the elder Goldbergs oppose the match, because they desire their daughters to marry within their religion, Leah and Raj decide to elope without so much as a word. Ari, bereft and abandoned, resolves to find her beloved sister. Indeed, the bitter estrangement and familial rift caused by Leah’s elopement represents one of many challenges faced by Ari: she struggles in school, due to undiagnosed dysgraphia, faces anti-Semitism and bullying at school, their family bakery, Gertie’s, is struggling to stay afloat, her parents continue to disapprove of Leah’s and Raj’s relationship and refuse to talk about them, and her mother is experiencing health issues. Set in 1967-1968, in the wake of the Loving vs. Virginia ruling, Ari’s experiences provide a great springboard for conversation about larger issues: interracial marriage, racism, prejudice, and the importance of finding one’s voice and standing up for one’s beliefs, despite adversity. Suitable for middle school readers and up.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Yapha

    This was a phenomenal story of love and family and hope for the future set on the backdrop of the civil rights movement in 1967 and the Supreme Court case of Loving vs. Virginia. Ariel (Ari for short) looks up to her older sister Leah, who is everything she wishes she could be. They are living in Connecticut, one of the few Jewish families in their small town. When Leah first falls in love with Raj, Ari is excited to be trusted with their secret. But when Leah and Raj elope, Ari is devastated. H This was a phenomenal story of love and family and hope for the future set on the backdrop of the civil rights movement in 1967 and the Supreme Court case of Loving vs. Virginia. Ariel (Ari for short) looks up to her older sister Leah, who is everything she wishes she could be. They are living in Connecticut, one of the few Jewish families in their small town. When Leah first falls in love with Raj, Ari is excited to be trusted with their secret. But when Leah and Raj elope, Ari is devastated. Her parents cut Leah off from the family for marrying someone who is not only not Jewish but also from India. Ari is desperate to reunite her family and will go to extremes to do so. Her poetry as she works through her emotions is one of the best parts of the book. It was an interesting choice to write the book in second person. I'm not sure that I have actually ever read a novel in second person before. It mostly worked, but once a while the "you" would be jarring. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up. eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

  20. 4 out of 5

    BookishlyJewish

    This review was originally posted on my blog Second person narratives are experiencing a renaissance. Everywhere I turn it seems someone new is attempting to craft a story utilizing this previously rare method of story telling. In inexperienced hands it is a disaster. Bumbling novices try to impress readers and appear “literary” by using a technique they think is sophisticated but in actuality leaves their writing pretentious, stilted and difficult to parse. Lucky for us, Veera Hiranandani is no This review was originally posted on my blog Second person narratives are experiencing a renaissance. Everywhere I turn it seems someone new is attempting to craft a story utilizing this previously rare method of story telling. In inexperienced hands it is a disaster. Bumbling novices try to impress readers and appear “literary” by using a technique they think is sophisticated but in actuality leaves their writing pretentious, stilted and difficult to parse. Lucky for us, Veera Hiranandani is no novice. In her latest middle grade historical fiction novel, How to Find What You’re Not Looking For, she uses the second person to literally push the thoughts and emotions of her main character into the readers consciousness. There is no separation between us and the text. We are the main character and we feel her struggle as a visceral sucker punch because of it.  The story follows Jewish twelve-year-old Ariel as her life is turned upside down in the summer following the Loving vs. Virginia ruling that declared the banning of interracial marriage was unconstitutional. Ariel has never given much thought to issues of the wider world but when her universe is turned upside down by her sister eloping with a Hindu Indian man that their parents do not approve of, she is forced to do so. We, in turn, are forced to confront these issues as well. To further complicate matters, Ariel is struggling in school due to what we as the reader can easily identify as an undiagnosed learning disability, being bullied by an anti Semitic classmate and her parents contemplating selling the family bakery due to financial difficulty.  I’ve read and enjoyed Hiranandani's work before and it is safe to say she does not shy away from tackling difficult issues like race, antisemitism, financial struggles and the internal prejudices that Jewish people have towards the wider world. She has proven she can tell a good story and make us think all at the same time. Yet what made this particular book a stand out for me was in fact the side characters. From the school bully Chris to Ariel’s best friend Jane and back to her babysitter Gabby, they were each so lovingly developed I felt they could carry their own narratives. They breathed life into the world. Made it full and rounded. Even the depictions of Ariel’s parents, who make decisions that Ariel, and by proxy we the readers, disapprove of, are drawn with suck a skillful hand that we never hate them. We simply wish they knew better. It would be lovely if I could say I identified with this book because I had a teacher as wonderful as Ariel’s or a friend as determined as Jane. But let’s be real. What I most identified with was seeing the prejudices in those around me and wishing I could change them. As Ariel learns, Holocaust trauma has led to a deeply rooted isolationism in many Jewish communities. We fear that which we view as “other” and the onus of continuing the Jewish people, of making up for all the lives that were lost, presses in on us like the walls of an ever shrinking room and stifles change. This may not be everyone’s experience, Judaism contains multitudes after all, but it really hit home for me.  I also identified with the family’s Rabbi, whom we never meet, when his advice is relayed through Ariel's father. In a twist I was not expecting, but that left me pleasantly surprised, he tells Ariel's parents to do what is in their hearts. This, to me, has always been the definition of Judaism. Even when those around me do not agree, even when it may fly in the face of tradition, I believe it is important to look at our practices with a critical eye and do what I know, in my heart, is correct.  I have never been much good at prayer. Reciting someone else’s words to a being I cannot see and is often depicted in the liturgy as male, has never appealed to me. But when I look in my heart I know that I am communing with God. Walking in their footsteps, striving to do better. As the reader is forced into Ariel's head, to literally become her by reading this second person story as well as the heart-aching poetry within it, we experience a similar phenomenon. Ariel must look into her own heart and find a way forward for her family. I invite you, the reader, to cast aside your preconceived notions, pick up this book, and do the same. 

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. *Thank you to BookishFirst for this copy of How To Find What You’re Not Looking For in exchange for an honest review* How To Find What You’re Not For by Veera Hiranandani is a powerful, heartwarming story that really makes you think. Poignant the subject matter is surprisingly heavy for a middle-grade story although one that is critically important especially in today’s world and our political climate. The Goldberg’s are a typical close knit family with a close bond. Ariel and her big sister Leah *Thank you to BookishFirst for this copy of How To Find What You’re Not Looking For in exchange for an honest review* How To Find What You’re Not For by Veera Hiranandani is a powerful, heartwarming story that really makes you think. Poignant the subject matter is surprisingly heavy for a middle-grade story although one that is critically important especially in today’s world and our political climate. The Goldberg’s are a typical close knit family with a close bond. Ariel and her big sister Leah have a very close relationship until one day she Ariel a secret that would lead her and her family on a journey of self-discovery and ultimately forgiveness. Leah tells Ariel that she is in love and wants to get married but that she has to keep it a secret and should not tell their parents. They simply wouldn’t understand but Leah was determined. Her parents were very traditional and wanted the best for their daughters. They ran a bakery Gerties and always had big goals and dreams for them. Leah though had different plans she was in love and wanted to get married. Ariel didn’t understand Leah and why she was in love. Her boyfriend Raj seemed nice enough but she didn’t want their family to break up and sister was acting so different but all she really wanted was for her sister to be happy and Raj made her that way. So when Leah invited him over for dinner one night Ariel was confused. Their parents nice enough but their was underlying tension she couldn’t figure out. Mom kept asking Raj whether he would be staying or returning to India. That was the issue Leah had chosen the wrong boyfriend and he wasn’t Jewish he was Indian and was a practicing Hindu. The Goldberg’s did not approve not in the least so Leah and Raj run away and eloped their parents approval be dammed-they were in love that was the only thing that mattered. Ariel was devastated and confused. How could Leah just abandon her like that? Ariel was desperate for answers but her parents were no help they had completely shut down and as far as they were concerned their daughter was dead to them for turning her back on her family and their faith. On top of all that Ariel was expecting issues of her own. School had always been hard for her and on top of her issues with learning a bully Chris Heaton has gone out of his way to make her life miserable. She knew the reason though she had done nothing wrong other than the fact that Ariel and her family was Jewish. Ariel though had found a reprieve from all of her struggles she suddenly found herself in even if it was a simple one poetry. Her teacher Miss Fields had taken notice of this which is something Ariel had never experienced before. None of her previous teachers had been like Miss Fields. She had taken her under her wing and encouraged her poetry which Ariel had felt soothing. Miss Fields also explained to Ariel what she suspected might be the cause of of why Ariel struggled in school so much she had a learning disability called dysgraphia. Ariel was embarrassed but really appreciated her teacher’s help. She was also determined to find her sister Leah. She couldn’t understand what she had done wrong to make her leave her. What Ariel learns along the way along the way is that their are many different kinds of prejudice whether it be religious or cultural or just a basic lack of understanding of another’s differences. Leah had shown her that when she brought up a landmark case that the Supreme Court had just ruled on Loving V. Virginia. The decision had made interracial marriage legal. She had even done a school report on it and even hit close to home in the midst of Leah’s relationship with a non-Jewish man. Ultimately it was Ariel’s determination with the help of her friend Jane that she was able to track down Leah and help bridge the divide between Leah, Raj and their parents showing them the error of their ways and really the lack of understanding between both parties. She would learn from a powerful influential man that brought about a revelation that would change the world “Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that”- Martin Luther King JR.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    What a storyteller this author is! She captures the essence of each of her characters through their words, deeds, and observations. For fans of Night Diary, her previous book, this latest offering will not be a disappointment since in its own way, it's just as good as that one. (And I loved it and wanted it to win the Newbery. It did win Honors.) I was engaged with the book from the start and felt as though I knew Ariel, the eleven-year-old protagonist, and the time--1967-1968--very well due to What a storyteller this author is! She captures the essence of each of her characters through their words, deeds, and observations. For fans of Night Diary, her previous book, this latest offering will not be a disappointment since in its own way, it's just as good as that one. (And I loved it and wanted it to win the Newbery. It did win Honors.) I was engaged with the book from the start and felt as though I knew Ariel, the eleven-year-old protagonist, and the time--1967-1968--very well due to the references to Loving v. Virginia, the Vietnam War, Walter Cronkite and the nightly news, the Summer of Love, music [Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Doors]. As Ariel watches events unfold on a larger, national canvas, she becomes increasingly troubled by the prejudices she recognizes in her own parents as well as the antisemitism she experiences from Chris, a classmate who targets her, and even from her best friend, Jane. The use of "you" throughout the narrative was unexpected, but it forced me to slow down as I was reading and somehow made the story even more personal than it might have been otherwise. The writing is elegant and the message eloquent. I was particularly struck by Ariel's poems and her struggles at school, and I marked several lines that made me think: for instance, “It makes you wonder if there’s just one way of being a girl and if you’re doing it wrong" p. 72, and “But maybe their marriage was a good thing, a small act of love in the middle of all that hate" (p. 76). The first one speaks to how many middle grade girls starting dressing, thinking, and acting differently in order to get the attention of boys, and the second refers t the marriage of her sister, Leah, who is Jewish, to Raj, whose family is from India. As Ariel watches her happy home become a battleground and then a place filled with secrets after Leah's departure, she unexpectedly finds solace in writing poems. Since she has dysgraphia, writing has been challenging throughout her school career, but with the accommodation of a typewriter brought into class by her teacher, Miss Field, she flourishes. There is so much to appreciate here--the fact that this story is in part based on the author's own parents' story, the descriptions of the bakery's goods, Ariel's finding of her own voice and path, and the historical backdrop. One of the strongest elements of the book is how it highlights prejudices in those who are close rather than on a larger scale. While it might seem that this would make it easier to confront them, that certainly isn't always the case. In fact, the opposite may be true. I should also mention that I love the clever cover too. While there may be those who struggled with Night Diary because of its setting and topic, this novel covers more familiar ground.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    First sentence: How to be the lazy one. It's harder than you think. First, lie on your messy bed wearing your Wonder Woman pajamas that are too small because you’ve had them since you were nine. Then, watch your older sister, Leah, pin up her hair for dance class. She sits in her black leotard at the small white vanity, her back straight as a board, a magazine cutout of Paul Newman taped to the corner of her mirror. She uses at least fifteen bobby pins for her bun. Count in your head while she s First sentence: How to be the lazy one. It's harder than you think. First, lie on your messy bed wearing your Wonder Woman pajamas that are too small because you’ve had them since you were nine. Then, watch your older sister, Leah, pin up her hair for dance class. She sits in her black leotard at the small white vanity, her back straight as a board, a magazine cutout of Paul Newman taped to the corner of her mirror. She uses at least fifteen bobby pins for her bun. Count in your head while she sticks the pins in. One, two, three. She’s rushing because she has to be on the #4 bus by 9:00 a.m. for pointe class at Madame Duchon’s Dance Academy. She dances there every day except Sunday. You’re not even sure how she spends so much time at dance and still does well in school. Leah seems to do well at everything. Not you. You’re the lazy one. You’re just trying to keep up, but along with all the other things Leah does, she helps you keep up. Premise/plot: Ariel Goldberg stars in Veera Hiranandani's How To Find What You're Not Looking For. The theme of 'how-to' continues beyond the title. Each chapter begins with a 'how-to' title. The first chapter being titled, "How to Be the Lazy One." The book is written in second person present tense, to "you." Ariel and Leah are sisters, and perhaps surprisingly close considering the seven years age difference. But when Leah falls in love with an Indian boy--as opposed to a JEWISH boy--bonds of all sorts are tested. The novel is set circa 1967/68. It focuses on home and school, and all the DRAMA that occurs. My thoughts: I really loved, loved, loved this one. Despite the second person present tense! I thought the characterization was great--very lovely. I thought the details were good. It was well-paced; it kept me reading. I love the writing. Very quotable. I also love the fact that writing poetry helps Ariel make sense of life. One of Ariel's poems: The Ways of the World The world has many ways of spinning. Many I don’t understand. But love is not that hard to understand. Doesn’t it just spin one way, one person toward another, without stopping?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Penny lurkykitty

    How to Find What You're Not Looking For is a middle grade novel following a year in the life of Ariel Goldberg, a 12 year-old Jewish girl living in Connecticut in 1967. The Loving vs. Virginia court case has just been won, overturning the laws that banned interracial marriage. Ariel must cope with her beloved older sister eloping with an Indian American man and her parents' disowning of her sister, because of her interracial and interfaith marriage. Ari struggles in school and is diagnosed, by a How to Find What You're Not Looking For is a middle grade novel following a year in the life of Ariel Goldberg, a 12 year-old Jewish girl living in Connecticut in 1967. The Loving vs. Virginia court case has just been won, overturning the laws that banned interracial marriage. Ariel must cope with her beloved older sister eloping with an Indian American man and her parents' disowning of her sister, because of her interracial and interfaith marriage. Ari struggles in school and is diagnosed, by a progressive and supportive teacher, with a learning disability called dysgraphia. Ari must also confront an antisemitic bully at school. Her parents run into financial trouble with the bakery they own and are under tremendous stress. The story is set against the historical events of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. The novel is written in the second person point of view and I found the perspective draws the reader into the story. Ariel has a strong and distinctive voice and we experience her attempts to make sense of her world and fight for her family right alongside her. The characters are well written and feel very real and genuine. I enjoyed Ariel's developing friendship with her neighbor and classmate Jane, the daughter of a single mother. I appreciate that dysgraphia was discussed, as few educators seem to know about it, even today. Ariel learns to write poetry as an alternative way to express her thoughts and her poems are a very enjoyable part of the novel. How to Find What You're Not Looking For is a compelling historical middle grade novel that skillfully confronts a diversity of tough subjects. It was well written, impossible to put down and great for readers of any age.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Hammelef

    This is the first book I've read told from the second person point of view and after getting used to the writing, I found that this point of view did create intimacy between myself and Ariel and I enjoyed her authentic middle grade voice. This historical fiction ties in actual events such as Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech and his heartbreaking assassination, the Vietnam War, and Kennedy's assassination and the way in which the characters react to these events felt real and true to cha This is the first book I've read told from the second person point of view and after getting used to the writing, I found that this point of view did create intimacy between myself and Ariel and I enjoyed her authentic middle grade voice. This historical fiction ties in actual events such as Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech and his heartbreaking assassination, the Vietnam War, and Kennedy's assassination and the way in which the characters react to these events felt real and true to character. I enjoyed the family drama and friendships and the characters, including the secondary ones, all felt like real people to me. Each person had flaws and a character arc that resulted in personal growth and new perspectives on the ever-changing world. I especially enjoyed how Ariel learned to stand up for herself and fight for her shattered family. Ariel has a learning ability that I had never heard of and am very pleased to now know about so that I may recognize it and have empathy for those who need to express themselves differently. Ariel deals with bullying and racism, tough subjects for middle grade, but well done by this author. One of my favorite parts of this novel was the poetry written by Ariel; it was thought-provoking and added so much depth to this novel. Ariel found a supportive teacher who recognized her intelligence and need for an alternative way of writing down her thoughts and I cheered them on through their adversity.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrea George

    I found Veera Hiranandani's novel, "How To Find What You're Not Looking For", an interesting and easy read. The story takes place during the turbulent 1960's. Ms. Hiranandani does an excellent job of describing this time in history (racism: Loving versus Virginia case, Vietnam War: statistics and its effect on families and society, era music, era clothing, family dynamics, etc.). Without giving too much away, the novel revolves around a Jewish family that settles in a predominantly non-Jewish nei I found Veera Hiranandani's novel, "How To Find What You're Not Looking For", an interesting and easy read. The story takes place during the turbulent 1960's. Ms. Hiranandani does an excellent job of describing this time in history (racism: Loving versus Virginia case, Vietnam War: statistics and its effect on families and society, era music, era clothing, family dynamics, etc.). Without giving too much away, the novel revolves around a Jewish family that settles in a predominantly non-Jewish neighborhood. They own a bakery that caters to both non-Jewish clients and Jewish clients from surrounding areas. Even though they believe in their Jewish heritage, the adults in the family find themselves not following their heritage as much as in earlier times (i.e., children not sent to Hebrew school and unable to speak the Yiddish language, not observing the Sabbath (the need to keep the bakery open, to make "ends meet"). Against the wishes of her parents, their eldest daughter falls in love with and marries a man that is from India, . Will they come to terms, or will the family forever be estranged? You'll need to read the novel to find out! I feel that this would be a great YA novel for middle school/high school students. They would definitely obtain a better understanding/knowledge of the 1960's.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    Ohmygosh, I loved this book SO MUCH! It was beautifully written and made me cry several times. The voice of Ariel was amazing, and I really liked how the author used a second person narrative. I have red so few books like that, and it brings the reader right into the story: "Leah hardly ever cries. You're the crier. It's the only way anyone pays attention to you. You cry when you're sad, or mad, or when you watch Lassie. Sometimes you even cry when you're extra happy. You get it from Daddy. He's Ohmygosh, I loved this book SO MUCH! It was beautifully written and made me cry several times. The voice of Ariel was amazing, and I really liked how the author used a second person narrative. I have red so few books like that, and it brings the reader right into the story: "Leah hardly ever cries. You're the crier. It's the only way anyone pays attention to you. You cry when you're sad, or mad, or when you watch Lassie. Sometimes you even cry when you're extra happy. You get it from Daddy. He's a crier too." At first, it took me a bit to get used to, but then I didn't even notice it. I just knew that I was thinking, "yes, this IS me!" I loved all the character arcs, especially Ariel's parents. Oh, my, they were tough cookies. (They own a bakery! Get it?!) And Ariel, in typical pre-teen fashion, comes up with an outlandish scheme along with her BFF, one that adult readers can plainly see will not work, but then it does! (mostly) I keep thinking of things to add... I loved Ariel's poetry and her teacher, oh gosh. She was amazing. And fallible. But mostly amazing. If I had to pick one thing to wish for, it would be a better title. I just don't think it gives us any idea of the beauty within these pages. A delightful book, definitely one of my new favorites.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Review to follow Ariel (11) - Jewish family Leah (18) - older sister; dancer Raj - Leah's boyfriend Chris Heaton - bully Miss Field Jane - BF "Writing is to you what dancing is to the clumsiest person in the world." "... it feels like Leah has ripped the cover off something ugly and confusing, something you don't want to see." "It makes you wonder if there's just one way of being a girl and if you're doing it wrong." "Life keeps disappointing you in the same boring ways." "What are you supposed to do if th Review to follow Ariel (11) - Jewish family Leah (18) - older sister; dancer Raj - Leah's boyfriend Chris Heaton - bully Miss Field Jane - BF "Writing is to you what dancing is to the clumsiest person in the world." "... it feels like Leah has ripped the cover off something ugly and confusing, something you don't want to see." "It makes you wonder if there's just one way of being a girl and if you're doing it wrong." "Life keeps disappointing you in the same boring ways." "What are you supposed to do if they keep putting you down, shoving you aside when you've done nothing to them?" "... you feel a dull pain your chest again, like something is chipping away at pieces of your heart." "When your dream knocks on the door, you have to answer." - Daddy wanted to open a bakery "Work hard, be honest, don't dwell. That's all we can do." "If you were who everyone else wants you to be, would it even make a difference?" "You wonder if that's what Ma calls wild, just being the person you want to be." "Sometimes you want one thing so much, you don't see what you might lose if you get it." "Now you were people who did things, who could do things, real things, important things."

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marsha

    Ariel is a 12-year-old Jewish girl who’s just gotten startling news. Her older sister Leah is in love with a man. Not just any man—a handsome Hindu named Raj. Their parents are going to plotz. Ariel’s thoughts are well defined and exactly as you’d expect a young girl’s to be. Her sister and her new beau are swept up in the politics of the day and their grown-up talk leaves Ariel confused. She’s not exactly certain what Leah means when she talks about prejudice or the wretched state of the world. Ariel is a 12-year-old Jewish girl who’s just gotten startling news. Her older sister Leah is in love with a man. Not just any man—a handsome Hindu named Raj. Their parents are going to plotz. Ariel’s thoughts are well defined and exactly as you’d expect a young girl’s to be. Her sister and her new beau are swept up in the politics of the day and their grown-up talk leaves Ariel confused. She’s not exactly certain what Leah means when she talks about prejudice or the wretched state of the world. Ariel looks around her neighborhood and sees only sunny skies and happy, smiling people. But then she remembers certain unsettling incidents befalling her parents, another Jewish family and herself. Ariel is coming to the slow realization that there’s more to the world than the bright, shining surface she knows. Placed just after the controversial ruling of Loving vs. Virginia that made miscegenation legal, the author takes us through Ariel’s confused thoughts as she struggles to make sense of the ugly tides swirling just beneath the world she thought she knew. It’s a book written for children but on a topic that may resonate with older readerships.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Chou

    It’s 1967, and interracial marriage has just become legal in all fifty states. Ariel Goldberg’s big sister elopes with a grad student of Indian descent (he’s an American) and her parents freak out! No one will tell her where Leah is, and Ariel is devastated when her sister doesn’t call or write. On top of all that, her teacher thinks Ariel has a learning disability. Ariel’s narration is spot-on eleven-year-old, and I love the poetry she writes to make sense of her life. While not excusing racist It’s 1967, and interracial marriage has just become legal in all fifty states. Ariel Goldberg’s big sister elopes with a grad student of Indian descent (he’s an American) and her parents freak out! No one will tell her where Leah is, and Ariel is devastated when her sister doesn’t call or write. On top of all that, her teacher thinks Ariel has a learning disability. Ariel’s narration is spot-on eleven-year-old, and I love the poetry she writes to make sense of her life. While not excusing racist behavior, Veera Hiranandani sensitively portrays Ariel’s parent’s feelings about her sister’s marriage and the importance of their Jewish faith following the Holocaust. How to Find What You’re Not Looking For is semi-autobiographical. Hiranandani has a white, Jewish mom and her dad’s family immigrated from India. I can see this book starting important discussions about faith and identity in a way that appeals to kids because the characters are so engaging and relatable and the author blends in just the right touch of humor. An excellent follow-up to the Newbery Honor-winning Night Diary that will definitely have a place on my staff rec shelf!

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