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Anita and Me

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,133 ratings  ·  57 reviews
The prizewinning coming-of-age novel about a young Indian girl in Northern England.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by New Press, The (first published April 1st 1997)
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Indian Books - Fiction
159th out of 669 books — 1,656 voters
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Coming of Age Stories
121st out of 419 books — 423 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,848)
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Shaheena
Jun 12, 2007 Shaheena rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: South Asian Gals
This story is of a Desi girl growing up in England in a factory town. One line that made me laugh and identify was when she went to Anita's house and realized that the oven could be used for more than storage of fry pans and such.
Stephanie
love it. its british, its about culture, and it has a darling protagonist. plus, there are tons of stories interwoven with the actual story. and its funny. why wouldn't you want to read this book?
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Meera Syal's story about a young girl growing up in the Black Country during the 1970s.
Jacquelynn Luben
I think I started to listen to Anita and Me as a Woman’s Hour serial some years ago. I have a feeling that I didn’t hear the whole story, but that early on, I got irritated by the personality of Meena and couldn’t understand why she lied and stole things, and why she would want to be involved with the highly unsuitable Anita.

Of course, this time, I read the whole book, and having put aside those feelings, enjoyed it very much. It wasn’t what I had originally thought - the story of two naughty gi
...more
Leonie
I started reading this book in Zanzibar while on holiday in early November. I had expected the book to be a lightly comic take on how Indian a young Punjabi immigrant felt alongside her glamorous white English neighbour however the book tricked me by being a much better story than that. It did follow a young girl turning into a woman growing up in a Northern village and feeling very much the outsider but if you ask me her Nationality or skin colour had very little to do with it.

A universal tale
...more
Iva
A great read. It often feels like a memoir. Our protagonist is the only Indian family in a backwater English town in the 60's. We meet Meena, the feisty and smart ten year old, who falls under the sway of Anita, a tough piece of work to say the least. Meena goes hot and cold about Anita, but can't escape her bad influence. Threaded throughout are both the relatives (their influence, even those 5000 miles away is always present) and the characters in the village. They provide the picture of a cha ...more
Sharon
This book is a moving portrayal of growing up in the 70s as a nine year old Indian girl. It touches on personal subjects such as racism, the usual subjects of insecurities, friendships etc and the environmental changes in the day – a motorway being built through the middle of their village.

I like Meera’s moving way with words – talking about her new baby brother - “I disliked him on first sight, a scrawny, yowling thing with a poached egg of a face, his long fingers clinging gekko-like to mama’
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Mike Steven
I read this as it's just been introduced to the AQA literature specification and I want to see if it would be a good option to teach. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

Told from the point of view of a young Indian girl, Meena, it tells the story of her struggle to grow up in a faltering mining town just outside Wolverhampton. It is apparently semi-autobiographical so it is no wonder that the voice of Meena is authentic and captures beautifully the innocent voice of childhood being slo
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Lucie Novak
This was such a great book. Funny, moving. It is about racism, integration, social problems, family pressure. American readers might find the slang challenging.
Hena
I read this after watching the movie version on Netflix. The movie was quite funny, and touching. The book ls all that and more. Definitely worth reading. It will stick with me for awhile.
Bookguide
My BookCrossing review - http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/6...

I enjoyed this book, and thought it gave a good view into life as an outsider, who feels they don't quite fit in. It was a perfect book for the Two Worlds Virtual Book Box, as Meena felt at home both in the local children's street culture as well as the Indian community, speaking Brummy slang with the best of them yet unable to speak Punjabi, longing for fish fingers yet enjoying her relatives' cooking too. With a foot in both camp
...more
Dan Thompson
Anita and Me by Meera Syal is actually one of those books where I found out it existed by seeing the film adaptation first. I am sometimes a little weary of reading books after I’ve already seen the film because film adaptations tend to alter somewhat from the novels themselves and I enjoyed the film thoroughly and didn’t want to end up being disappointed with it once I had finished the book.

It has actually been sat on my bookshelf for about three years, never seemingly managing to get around to
...more
David Proffitt
I picked up “Anita and Me” from a local charity shop several weeks ago. Like many people I knew of Meera through her TV appearances, but I hadn’t noticed that she had turned her hand to writing novels and screenplays. I saw the film version of the book several years ago and remember Meera playing a part, but had not noticed that she had actually written it.

Having seen the film I knew the basic premise of the story – a young Indian girl growing up in a small west midlands town in the early 1970s
...more
Bhargavi Balachandran
Oh,I loved this book!. The comparison to "To kill a mockingbird" is not misplaced,but the style of writing is different.Anita and Me is hilarious,irreverent,refreshing and poignant all at the same time. This semi-autobiographical book by Meera Syal is about a young immigrant girl growing up in a British mining village in the 60's. Meena (the protagonist) is torn between two cultures: her Punjabi roots and the need to fit into the mainstream Tollington culture. She prefers Fish and Chips to Chapp ...more
Rosemary
Anita and Me is the thinly-disguised autobiography of Meera Syal who grew up as the only non-white child in her village in the Midlands* of England in the 1960s and 70s. Of course I don’t know exactly how much was changed but if the name change is typical, it can’t be much – the main character’s name is Meena. There’s a point where a hospital nurse tells her, “I can’t pronounce your name, I’ll just call you Mary” and I thought – What? Can’t pronounce Meena? And it’s nothing like Mary … and then ...more
chucklesthescot
Apr 15, 2010 chucklesthescot rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Asian theme book fans
Recommended to chucklesthescot by: received from bookcrossing
Shelves: fiction, asian
This was better than I was expecting it to be after reading another of her novels(Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee). This story is about growing up in Britain as about the only Asian family in the community. She is desperate to be accepted by Anita, the tough gang leader who seems happy enough to let the younger kids follow her. But our heroine soon realises that Anita is not as cool as she thought and then starts to feel the sting of racism from former friends.
Not a bad read. It was interesting th
...more
Tracey Hook
I love this book! What a charming girl. But one with a lot of spunk who is not afraid to try anything. Meena is ahead of her time. During a period when little girls are expected to play with paper dolls and ride their bikes, she's getting into things that only boys are expected to do. A Desi girl from a not too traditional Indian family. Meera Syal has created a story every girl can relate to.
Hazel
I read this book as it appears on the list of texts that are recommended to replace older texts such as 'Of Mice and Men' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird', inspiring thought on race and equality. The book certainly looks at those issues in modern Britain.

Set in Wolverhampton in the 1970's, it follows a girl called Meena from a Punjabi family through some important childhood years. Meena sees herself as different, not quite fitting into either Punjabi or English. She finds similarities and acceptance
...more
Pooja जान
"Anita and Me" is the best book I've read in years. I loved the simple style of storytelling--without any of the modern thrills and frills. No cliffhanger at the end of each chapter, no perilous adventure. Just beautiful, almost poetic description which perfectly captures a 10-year old child's perspective, with a touch of good ol' British humour. The main purpose of the book, of course, is outlining life of first and second generation South Asian immigrants in the 60's and 70's. I felt it was tr ...more
Becky Puzey
Anita and Me was recommended to me by my mum, at the start of the summer, and I had intended to finish it by the end, but other books nudged their way ahead. However, a month and a bit later I had read it, and I am very glad that in the end I did get round to it, as it was a funny, original and eye-opening book. Syal artfully captures 'the essence' of childhood, friendship, and of Indian/Brummy culture. As a 'Brummy' teenager, growing up in the twentieth century, it was really interesting to rea ...more
Rachella Sinclair
I'm not giving up on the young adult books. This was a bit better than Pidgeon English, but it could have had a better ending.
Ashley
A British To Kill a Mockingbird. As complex as race relations and as rich as a girl's imagination.
Donna
it was a good book i enjoyed it but was lacking something for me
Nigel
A touching memoir of growing up in Sixties Britain. The difference here is that 9 year old Meena is a member of the only Punjabi family in the working class Black Country village of Tollington. An engaging coming of age tale full of quirky reiniscences on the evolving nature of friendships and family life at a time of social change. Although told with fondness and good humour it is also a valuable insight into the country's inherent rascism both overt and unintended.
Anna Chapman
Love the blackcountry twang, reminded me of home and really made me laugh. The characters were so much like the men and women I grew up around it made me feel quite nostalgic. Unfortunately I was so busy when I read this that it took me ages to finish and I couldn't really read enough at a time to get completely into it. But I did enjoy it. Meena's experiences and insecurities as she grows up were very well written and quite poignant.
Shannon
I had to read this for my school exams, I thought - like most school texts - it would be pain-stakingly boring to read and as soon as I'd passed I would never pick it up again.
But this book is the complete opposite, I loved it. Syal's vivid descriptions of her semi-autobiographical, semi-fictional life are amazing and amusing to read. This is definitely a book with lessons and characters that will stay with me for life.
Louise Armstrong
Too literary for me - and by that I mean too miserable. Opened at random I read: 'It felt so strange to hear Punjabi under the stars. It was an indoor language to me, an almost guilty secret which the Elders would only share away from prying English eyes.'

The first sentence I don't mind, in fact I like it, but for pleasure I never like to read about indoor languages, guilty secrets, Elders, and prying eyes.
Morticia Adams
This is a really good and funny read, with a likeable and engaging narrator. What I thought was particularly good was the initial sense that the Punjabi family are well liked and accepted by their white neighbours, and don't seem to have any problems with racism. Their first encounters with white bigotry therefore come as quite a shock to the reader just as they must have done to the family themselves.
Maureen
I love this book so much. My favorite books always seem to break my heart and manage to still leave me feeling hopeful. This does both beautifully, and it's very, very funny. I think this is the third (?) time I've read Anita and Me over something like a ten-year time span. Each time, I think I'm going to be less impressed than I remember. Nope, still blown away.
Anna
The childhood of Meena Kumar, an Indian-origin small girl living in a small UK town in the 1960s.
Fun read, well written, enjoyable (I would have liked to read this one as a kid). Captures nicely a small city of UK in the '60s, being a kid and still seeing everything with the humor and irony of a grown up.
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Meera Syal MBE (born Feroza Syal 27 June 1961 in Essington, near Wolverhampton) is a British Indian comedienne, writer, playwright, singer, journalist and actress. Her Punjabi-born parents came to Britain from New Delhi, and she has risen to prominence as one of the most UK's best-known Indian personalities. She was awarded the MBE in the New Year's Honours List of 1997.

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