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My Basmati Bat Mitzvah

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  696 ratings  ·  178 reviews
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 tha ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Harry N. Abrams
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  696 ratings  ·  178 reviews

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Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, middle-grade
Cover Gushing Worthiness: The cover for My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is one of my favourite covers of the year. I really like the illustrations and the colour scheme of the cover. Plus the girl on the cover is adorable too. Final Verdict: a great cover for a heartwarming book.

I think poor communication with the people closest to us can lead to terrible misunderstandings.

I first saw MBBM on Netgalley and the title is what drew me to the book at first. As I read the synopsis I was ev
This review will go live on the blog 10/14

BEWARE: this review amounts to little more than an incoherent, rambly love letter.

You know that one review that you sit on until you come up with the right words to say, only to wind up writing - and rewriting - the entire thing? That's how I was with My Basmati Bat Mitzvah. This is the novel I want to hand to Middle Grade/Young Adult naysayers who claim kids' books can't be thought-provoking and powerful. Even now I want to scrap this review and simply
Sanjana Rajagopal
Apr 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
I picked this up because I was excited to see intersectional YA lit! You don't see books about Indians who are Jewish...ever! But then the way this book goes about addressing the Indian part of her heritage annoyed the living crap out of me. The mother made it sound terrible to take Indian food to school because it spilled once. I took Indian food to school every day of high school and I had friends who didn't care for the most part. I'm in college now and I still bring Indian food for lunch. I ...more
Alex  Baugh
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: randomly-reading
When I was 12, I was signed up for religious instruction. What this meant was the every Wednesday afternoon, all the NYC public school kids going to religious instruction would line up for early dismissal to go to their respective churches or synagogues. Catholics and Protestants for confirmation classes, Jewish kids for Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes. The best part of this was that it got me out of a double period of a much hated sewing class, so I was pretty certain that year that there was a God.

Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 stars. Tara is a half-Indian, half-Jewish American girl. She is planning her Bat-Mitzvah and trying to figure out if she believes in God. She doesn’t know if she should, because her Indian family believes in gods and goddesses and her Jewish family believes in God. She is also having trouble getting along with her mom, and having trouble with her group of friends. I liked that it was a fast read, and it made me think about how difficult it can sometimes be to choose what you believe as you are ...more
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is a cute novel about navigating your way through the different cultures that make you up. There’s good commentary here on social, racial and religious issues, something I wish I saw more of in MG and YA fiction.

The real standout aspect of the novel is Tara’s voice. It would have been far too easy to slip into a caricature of a twelve year old girl’s voice, but Freedman keeps it feeling realistic and natural. Tara herself is a fun character, a pretty typical twelve year
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is a book that just makes you happy while reading it. Tara is such a likable narrator, one of my favourite things about this book were the conversations Tara had at Hebrew school. She as really good questions and is brave enough to ask them.

Paula J. Freedman has written a brilliant book that balances a lot of elements; faith, family, identity, friends and love. I was really pleased to see that Tara’s family clearly loves her and each other. Her grandmother is so entertaini
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I work in a school with large Indian and Jewish populations, so this title immediately caught my eye. While we don't have many (if any) combined families quite like Tara's, her story will appeal to both groups, each of whom are familiar with their own culture and have friends from the other. It is by no means only for Indian or Jewish readers--the challenges of fitting or standing out in you own way (rather than the way your parents try to do it) is universal in middle school, as are first crush ...more
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. I wasn't so sure when it was first pitched to me at BEA, but it's more than your usual "this is my culture" sort of middle grade book. I loved especially the conversations between Tara and her rabbi.

Some of it was a little schmaltzy (ie the speech she gives at her bat mitzvah) but that happens with middle grade books.
Jul 15, 2013 rated it did not like it
Good concept but I couldn't get past Tara's dippy, far-too-clueless personality. I found most of the children's personalities to be too silly and over the top to be believed, but perhaps I am too far removed from that age range at this point to spot an "authentic" depiction of a middle school child. ...more
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, a charming celebration of multiculturalism, may be short on story, but it’s big on heart.

The title tells you just about all you need to know about the plot: 12-year-old Tara, whose dad’s family is white Jewish and whose mom’s family is south-east Asian Hindu, is having mixed feelings about her upcoming Bat Mitzvah and her cultural identity in general.

This is no clunky lecture on multiculturalism, though. Paula J. Freedman takes on the subject matter with a refreshing bre
Rationale: This book is the intermediate example of my diverse text set showing how individuals need to be true to themselves despite opposition. This book is about a girl who is trying to balance her Jewish and Indian heritages while becoming her own person. This particular book shows how many of our students struggle between different heritages, religions and cultures while growing up. However, this book is an example of how the struggle helps the character to grow and become her own mix of th ...more
Rachelia (Bookish Comforts)
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-characters
Actual rating: 4.5

Tara is 12 and she has some biiiiiig things weighing on her mind: what does it mean to be Indian AND Jewish? Does she want to go through with her Bat Mitzvah? Why is her best friend, Ben-O, acting so weird lately? And is she losing her other best friend too?! Throughout My Basmati Bat Mitzvah Tara contemplates these questions among many others as she tries to figure out, ultimately, who she is and where she fits in the world. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is SUCH a cute, but entertain
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen
Tara’s father is Jewish and her mother is East Indian, so Tara has mixed feelings about her upcoming bat mitzvah. Some of the kids in her Hebrew class even wonder if she is actually Jewish at all. Tara though is more concerned with whether she actually believes in God and if she doesn’t, does that mean that she can’t have a bat mitzvah? She also worries about what celebrating this side of her family says to the other side. So Tara decides to make sure that both sides of her family are represente ...more
There are a lot of books that are coming out right now that are about World War II or life as a Jewish person during that war, or both. This just happens to work extremely well for me considering the fact that I'm studying world religions right now. With all the new books and all the old books in both children's and YA novels, it's just becoming harder and harder to figure out which one is my favorite.

But MY BASMATI BAT MITZVAH is definitely not to underestimated in this sea of stories and word
Jun 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Paula J. Freedman’s My Basmati Bat Mitzvah tells the story of Tara Feinstein, a young girl about to embark on one of the most important events in her life: her Bat Mitzvah, an important coming of age ceremony in the Jewish religion. While most of Tara’s friends are committed to becoming a bar or bat mitzvah, Tara has some reservations and questions about how to balance her loyalties between her Jewish and Indian cultures.

While this book was written for a specific audience (middle schoolers), the
The Styling Librarian
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman- Realistic Fiction/Multicultural – 6th grade and up- What? Another book that uses Yiddish, has humor, realistic fiction, and integrates in cultural issues? Beautiful, right up my alley it seems like lately. This is a middle school/high school book filled with a myriad of wonderful family characters who surround a somewhat clueless, thoughtful, very intelligent girl who has committed to having her Bat Mitzvah but wishes to integrate in her Hindi family ...more
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Tara Feinstein is a typical New York City middle schooler, and like any middle school girl, she is struggling with her identity. She struggles even more because she is half Indian, and half Jewish and has begun her Hebrew studies for her Bat Mitzvah. Her parents had always told her that it was her decision to be Bat Mitzvahed, but she finds out that they had already booked the hall two years ago. She feels a bit betrayed by this, but had already decided that she would go through with it. She doe ...more
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Originally I picked it up because I was curious to read about what it would be like for a young girl to embrace both her heritage as an Indian-American and her religion as a Jew, and I feel that Ms. Freedman did an excellent job showing us how Tara felt in a myriad of different situations involving the mix of the two. I also have to say that the author nailed what being a 12-year-old girl is like; it's been awhile since I was that age, but two years ago I worked with ...more
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Rachel Kamin
This book could have been another boring, cliché filled book, but instead I found it to be a delightful coming of age book about a young girl, daughter of an Indian mother, converted to Judaism, and Jewish father. As her Bat Mitzvah approaches, she has many doubts, doubts about the existence of God and about her identity.

Tara doesn't want to betray the Indian side of her, especially her beloved deceased Nani and Nanaji. Adding to these doubts are the comments from one of her Hebrew school class
Michele C
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I literally just finished the book a few seconds ago, but I feel as if it is completely necessary for me to write a review for this book since it is honestly nothing like I have ever read before. I mean that in the best possible way that this book is so unique and just really stood out to me.

I mean seriously how many books are there that are about both being Jewish and being Indian American. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah does an excellent job at describing how the main character Tara learns how to b
Ms. Yingling
Jul 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Tara Feinstein is in middle school, and experiencing all of the confusing changes that go along with this age. Her parents are embarassing, she's not sure she believes in God (which is a problem, since she is preparing for her Bat Mitzvah), her friend Ben-O is sending her confusing signals, and she's just not sure who she is. She misses her mother's father, and worries that embracing her Jewish side might mean forgetting her Indian side. This fear is compounded by girls in her school who tell he ...more
Noni Wurzweiler
Sep 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book is about a 7th grade girl named Tara who is trying to navigate the challenges of middle school life, both social and academic, while also preparing for her Bat Mitzvah coming up. She is trying to make time for her best friends, Ben-o and Rebecca, while also dealing with other kids she doesn't like so much. Tara is just trying to find her place among her peers and trying to spark her love for her Robotics club all while learning to understand her religion.
I personally did not enjoy rea
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it
The main character of “My Basmati Bat Mitzvah” by Paula J. Freedom, is an Asian-Jewish-American girl called Tara Feinstein. Tara grows up in New York and her father is Jewish whereas her mom Hindu, but converted to Judaism before their wedding. Since a couple of years, Tara goes to Hebrew school to prepare for her bat mitzvah. As the day of this important Jewish ritual is approaching, she is questioning her belief in god and is afraid of becoming less Indian. Tara tries to bring both cultures th ...more
Jenni Frencham
Freedman, Paula. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah. 2013.

Tara Feinstein is preparing for her bat mitzvah. She's trying to decide what she believes, in addition to trying to honor both her Jewish and her Indian heritage. Meanwhile, she's not sure if her best friend Ben likes her as a friend or is interested in something more.

This was a typical chick-lit story, focusing on a lot of small struggles instead of some major plot point. Tara isn't sure what all she believes, and she's concerned about making promis
Nov 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was excited about this book's premise - a biracial girl preparing for her bat mitzvah amid qualms that she's "not Jewish enough" to do so. But two Goodreads stars for "it was okay" is about all I can muster up, and one and a half of those are for the premise. Tara is a flat, lifeless, walking, talking cliche who speaks every other word in either Yiddish or Hindi - I get it already, she's biracial and bicultural, can the author please move on to some actual content rather than trying to demonst ...more
Acelynn Perkins
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Tara Feinstein is a typical teenage girl dealing with school, friends, frienemies, crushes, and all things coming of age- including planning her bat mitzvah. In midst of all her teen drama, Tara struggles with juggling her Jewish and Indian identities, multiculturalism, religion, fitting into and breaking stereotypes, and discovering who she really is.

Overall, this book is a successful basic introduction to multiculturalism. However, the author relies heavily on the 5 F's (flags, fashion, food,
Makena Janssen
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Tara, an early-teen, spunky, Jewish-Indian-American girl, deals with the usual trials of middle school, while also struggling to come to terms with her cultural identity and spirituality. As she decides whether or not to go through with her Bas Mitzvah, Tara learns about friendship, explores her faith, and understands that she can both celebrate her Indian heritage while also being Jewish. Freedman includes characters of different races and cultural backgrounds, creating a setting that actually ...more
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received my copy through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

For a first time author, Ms. Freedman has an excellent ear for juvenile dialogue, and a sympathetic understanding of what a quagmire being an "almost-a-teenager" (I don't like to use the "tw" word. I know no one of that age who refers to him-or-herself by that term). Tara's life is messy, and Tara's head is messy. As a result, she does, says and thinks some stupid things sometimes. But this only made me empathize with her all the more
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My Review of My Basmati Bat Mitzvah 1 4 Nov 25, 2014 11:21AM  

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Paula Freedman has another career in digital media, in which she has made websites for a well-known children's publisher, a TV network, and assorted others. She studied publishing at [Hidden in protest] and English at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In addition to writing fiction, Paula enjoys reading, traveling, and knitting. She lives with her husband and two parrots in Geneva, Swit ...more

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