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Several years ago, Tanuja Desai Hidier and I were having lunch and she explained that the identity issues depicted in her novel Born Confused were those she had experienced during her college years and 20s, not her high school years.
Born Confused has served as a beacon of awesomeness and a lighthouse for brown girls who are confused, feeling other-ed and just trying to make sense of it all.
When my daughter, an avid reader, was thirteen— having reached that age without ever seeing an Indian American girl in a book— an Indian American author friend mentioned Born Confused as the book that changed her life.
#BornConfused15: Tanuja Desai Hidier Captures the Painful and Complicated Truth About Being Indian-American
In Dimple’s constant struggle with her parents, to be both American and Indian, to somehow reconcile these two parts of who she is, Tanuja captures something deeply painful and complicated about the lives of so many families.
I am American. I am Desi. And a lot of people assume that I struggle with my identity.
“But you have to realize, there is no such thing as this tidy little box you think you have to fold up and fit into; it simply does not exist.”
I read Born Confused the summer I was thirteen or fourteen. I was in London. I lived on library books those summers.
One day, in the New Releases display, you see a curious book. The eyes of a young brown woman look out at you. On her forehead, she has a bindi in the shape of a question mark.
#BornConfused15: ‘Dimple Lala’s Search for Herself Mirrored my Experience as the Only Indian-American in...
I remember the first moment I saw her—thoughtful brown eyes staring into my own. Question mark hovering. Dimple Lala drew me in and didn’t let go until I swooped her off a bookshelf, brought her home, and devoured every one line of Tanuja Desai Hidier’s delicious prose.
Tanuja sent me a proposal for a novel called ABCD, about a South Asian American girl named Dimple Lala who living in the suburbs of New Jersey and was trying to shape herself out of the collision of the cultures around her. It was unlike anything I’d read before.