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In the Key of Nira Ghani

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  356 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira's grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira re ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Running Press Kids
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In the Key of Nira Ghani is an "Own Voices" YA novel. Nira is a young girl who dreams of playing her trumpet in her school's jazz band. This does not sit well with her traditional Guyanese family who still hold fast to the values of education, hard work, commitment to family and respect for elders. They see music as a deterrent from her goals and her pleas a sign of disrespect. All that Nira wants is something for herself. She is a good girl who manages to keep up her grades and tries to help ou ...more
Jay G
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel:

*I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

3.5/5 Stars

This is an own voices novel that follows Nira, a Guyanese immigrant who travels to Canada with her family. She has always dreamed of becoming a musician, but her strict parents want her to become a doctor or scientist instead. Her best friend Emily and her grandmother seem to be the only two supporting h
Gail (The Knight Reader)
I feel very honored to write this review and only wish I could use all caps in an attempt to convey how much I loved this book!

In the Key of Nira Ghani is an ownvoices story that follows teenager, Nira Ghani, as she navigates life in Canada after migrating from her home country of Guyana, with her parents, grandmother, cousin, uncle and aunt. Nira faces an assortment of challenges, including breaking free of cultural norms and familial expectation to pursue her passion of playing the trumpet.
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best 2019 YA contemporary releases I have read this year and it really took me by surprise! In the Key of Nira Ghani is an #ownvoices coming of age story about being a teen torn between the expectations of an immigrant family and wanting to forge your own path. It's funny and heart-warming with a diverse cast of well-developed characters and complicated relationships that feel true to life. Nira has a wry sense of humor that I loved, and I found a great deal of her experience ...more
Melanie  Brinkman
Can Nira find the right note to fit into the crazy band of her own life?

Nira dreams of being a musician. This goes against everything her traditional Guyanese family wants. They believe her music will distract her from her education, her "true future". But Nira knows this doesn't have to be. No one but her grandmother and best friend, Emily, support her. But then Nira's enemy McKenzie, starts paying attention to Emily, who shockingly begins to pull away. If this wasn't enough, her cousin Farah b
That's a tear-jerker. Also, pocket trumpets are cute! ...more
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was almost 5 stars! Cho. 😄 I do recommend it for its lovable, sarcastic protagonist and the author's skilfull diagramming of varying kinds of loving and problematic family dynamics, the ones where some meeting of minds can occur, and the others that are too toxic.

Fuller review likkle later.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Key of Nira Ghani is an ownvoices story following a Guyanese teen who is caught between her parents expectations and her own wishes to be a musician. At the same time her best friend is pulling away from her, and why is the cute popular guy Noah suddenly talking to her?

(laughing at my attempt to write a synopsis without actually writing the synopsis)
In the Key of Nira Ghani has real characters which I felt were written really well. I love how Nira is such a teenager, with all her insecu
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
* Thank you HBG Canada for the opportunity to be apart of this blog tour *

- ACTUAL 4.25 stars -

In the Key of Nira Ghani is a contemporary novel following Nira, a Guyanese girl with a passion for music. Her parents do not approve of her talent, forcing her to take a stand against her parents, who she loves, for what she loves, playing her trumpet. And with a competitive cousin, Farah, and mean girl, McKenzie, trying to push their way into her friend group, and a new found crush on Noah, Nira begi
Jessica | Booked J
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Review also found here at Booked J.

(3.5-4 stars.) Here's the thing: I feel like maybe I wasn't in the right mood for this book?

It's not that I didn't enjoy it (I definitely did!) but I did have a hard time focusing on it for prolonged periods of time, much like my experience with a few Sarah Dessen and John Green books in the past. I liked it well enough, but it didn't grip me. It had a very slow start that progressed and quickened as it went. So, there is a big cha
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Coming of age – and all that jazz!

Canadian author Natasha Deen was born in Guyana and immigrated to Canada where she has become a prize winning author of books for children, teens, and adults. She has both an innate talent for storytelling and the gift for introducing her passion to others, in schools, libraries, and other organizations. Her motto, ‘Change the world one story at a time.’ She has published nineteen books to date! Natasha lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

The gift for character developm
Jessica Williamson
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

This book is so dang good I am surprised there aren't more people talking about it!

Reading this book reminded me of being a teen in all of the best and worst ways. Deen puts you so far into the head of her main character that you feel everything Nira feels and it was just one of the best experiences reading a book that I've had in a long time.

This book is definitely more character-driven than plot, which is usually not my thing, but I loved it here.

The musical aspect of this just clun
Samantha (WLABB)
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wasn't always sure about this book, because Nira's parents came off as rather harsh at times, but as Nira grew, so did they. It was fantastic seeing Nira go from feeling lonely and disconnected, to having an actual circle of friends, who felt like family. I won't lie, I was frustrated with MOST of the adults in this book. The demands of her parents, and the sibling rivalry between Nira's uncle and father, which robbed her of a friendship with her cousin. Had she had Farah on her side, maybe sh ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I waffled between 3 and 4 stars. I liked this. It was realistic fiction, looking at Nora's life in an immigrant family and trying to find her path in life, not necessarily the same image as that of her family. The story was very relatable and well written. Some interesting language and prose choices, which I appreciated. This is a 2020 Red Maple nominee. ...more
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved the story line of Nira and her grandmother.
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
Rating: 3.25 🌟

ARC Review: receiver from Netgalley for an honest review

TW: ableist slurs, (view spoiler)

I spent way too long staring at the screen trying to figure out what to say about this book. What I will say with certainty though is that this book should be read by #ownvoice readers from immigrant families, kids who will understand the struggle of moving from one country to another for a better life, understand the struggles of trying to fit in whole still try
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Thanks to Partner NetGalley for the digital ARC of Natasha Deen’s In the Key of Nira Ghani in exchange for an honest review. The book releases on April 9.

“I feel like I’m living on a fault line. Everything’s great, but I feel like there’s a rumbling deep down
where I can’t see or feel it, and something’s going to blow” (loc. 835).

I could not have loved In the Key of Nira Ghani more. For me, the novel offers the perfect mixture of compelling, empathetic protagonist; gorgeous writing; and a believa
Belle Ellrich
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Actual Rating: 4.75 stars


I have so many thoughts and emotions that I'm still sorting through after reading this amazing and wonderful book. Natasha Deen is a skilled, brilliant author who was more than able to craft a fictional story of experience and an amazing character that called to readers to analyze themselves and their positions and easy comings.

Nira is a character I really felt
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
I received a free review copy from NetGalley.

TL;DR version: 3.5 stars, rounded up. I didn't love this book, but I enjoyed it, and I think rounding up to 4 stars is a fair assessment. Cute, and nice to see an #OwnVoices book, but I feel like I’m getting too old to really enjoy YA slice-of-life books like these.

+ Nira is pretty well fleshed out, as is her cousin Farah and the rest of her family, but I feel like I don't know Nira's social circle (Emily, Mac, and Noah) all that well. I liked that N
Book Reviewer
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Nira was miserable, pretty much all the time. As an immigrant in her school (or as she called herself, “one of the only brown people”) she was automatically an outsider, and spent her days there commiserating with her one friend about it. Her life at home was equally as unfulfilling, spent under the strict watch of her parents who lived to ensure that she accomplished the dreams they had for her future. Her two biggest comforts are her grandmother and her trumpet, both equally soothing for her s ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an Advanced Copy via Netgalley in exchange for an objective review.

I was born in Guyana, so I was intrigued to read a YA title featuring a Guyanese protaganist named Nira. She’s an opinionated, self-centered high school student in Canada frustrated with her immigrant parents strict academic rules. Study. Study. Study. Nothing else! But Nira loves the trumpet. And she’s a talented, untrained trumpet player to boot!

The struggle with her immigrant parents and fitting in at school is an
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Running Press Kids (Perseus Books, Running Press) and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC to read and review.

A slow start to a great ending all things considered. There is an honest poignancy to the story of a Guyanese immigrant teen trying to break preconceived notions about her through music. The disparity between Nira and the other kids at school – both socially and culturally – is an extremely relatable concept that rings true for many.

It took a while to really get into the
Amanda Shepard (Between-the-Shelves)
Read more at!

I'm actually giving this 3.5/5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Running Press Kids for providing me with an advanced copy to review! This was a quick read for me, which means that I basically flew through this book! At the surface, this is a fun read full of humor and your typical high school drama. But as you dig deeper, there's a lot to love from this book, between familial expectations, finding your voice, and navigating changing friendships.

Nira's at the
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it

I was given an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I went into this book thinking it was going to be a run of the mill book about high schooler's with the main character being from Guyana. But this book isn't really a HS drama, it's more of a introspective of Nira's family and her looking back at her previously unnoticed flaws. She wants to join the jazz band at school, but is surprised when Mackenzie (a girl at her school who Nira sees as vapid and dumb) plays the Saxo
Katherine Magyarody
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is fast-paced, hilarious, heart-wrenching…I wish I had this book as a teen!
When Nira sees a flyer for jazz band, she realizes she has a lot more preparing to do than just polishing her trumpet. She needs to navigate her immigrant family’s very specific expectations of how she behaves and who she will be in the future. Nira’s strength (alongside her brains, musical skill, and snappy, angry sense of humour) is her ability to perceive why her anxious father and short-fused mother behave
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was a slow build.  The first half or so was ok. I would have rated it  3 or 4 star…. But the last third, oh the last third! It was SO GOOD. 

Nira is a high school student with major imposter syndrome. She is Guyanese, lives in Canada, and her family doesn't have a lot of money. Her parents want her to be a doctor, but she plays the trumpet and dreams of being a musician. There is a lot of drama with both family and friends (which to be honest, is what I found a little tiresome in the fi
Sara G
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it
***ARC received through NetGalley for review, much appreciated***

This is a little more than just an average coming of age high school story. Its a struggle that goes deeper than just parents and child but into the struggle of culture. Nira's family wants to her be a doctor, they see that as the only type of success but Nira wants to be a musician that success is bigger than just becoming a doctor.

I liked Nira as a character, shes so wrapped up in her own struggles that she doesn't see or unders
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Full Review can be found at Http://

First, I'd like to thank Hachette Books Canada for sending me a copy in exchange for a review! Honestly, this book was so hilarious and light-hearted, I really was sucked in from the first page!

Right from the beginning you get drawn into Nira and her family and life. It's no secret that she comes from a family that's not the "ordinary" family you would normally see, however, she definitely tries to make it more of a normal life exper
“In the Key of Nira Ghani” is a beautiful and emotional story. There are definitely some elements that just hit way to close to home, for me. The things that I was able to relate to made the story stronger and more impactful. Although it follows the plot of a traditional bildungsroman, Deen is able to bring something to make the story special. It is unique with its set of characters and personalities. I liked that not everything had a happy ending, it made the story much more realistic. A great ...more
Lois Young
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Yes, this is a YA coming-of-age story about family and identity. Yet, I enjoyed this story because it was about a Guyanese family, which is part of the Caribbean culture. There haven't been many YA books about Caribbean families and their struggles and their lifestyles. Natasha Deen does an amazing job explaining what some Caribbean families go through when they immigrate to North America. The family rules and regulations are a reality for anyone who grew up within this culture, such as myself. ...more
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Natasha Deen's family moved from Guyana, South America to Canada to escape the country's political & racial violence. She loved growing up in a country of snow & flannel, but often felt out of place. Thank goodness for books that showed her being different could also mean being awesome. Natasha lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her family where she spends A LOT of time arguing with her cats and dogs ...more

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