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Anita and Me

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,388 ratings  ·  133 reviews
Anita and Me, which has been compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, tells the story of Meena, the daughter of the only Punjabi family in the British village of Tollington. With great warmth and humor, Meera Syal brings to life a quirky, spirited 1960s mining town and creates in her protagonist what the Washington Post calls a “female Huck Finn.” The novel follows nine-year-old ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by The New Press (first published April 1st 1997)
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andrea gayle I'm sure you've found it by not but there is a Kindle edition; as well as several free PDFs if you search Google. …moreI'm sure you've found it by not but there is a Kindle edition; as well as several free PDFs if you search Google. (less)

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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  2,388 ratings  ·  133 reviews

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Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny, entertaining and compelling semi-autobiographical debut novel from Meera Syal (if a little over nostalgic at times).
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable and fun to read. Meena is a flamboyant, colourful character. (No pun intended)

As a (white) child of about the same vintage, I loved the many clever comic touches and the way she brings that period to life. Skinheads, school closures, failed mining villages, comprehensives, the 11+, Enoch Powell, even the unthinking use of the N word to name a dog or describe a colour, it's all very familiar.

For me, the book did a good job of showing that whole experience from a minority viewpoint. We
Jun 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Keith Bullock
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to say, I became interested in Meera's book after writing my novel 'Winning Ticket'. This is not the place for a plug for my book, save to say that at base, my novel is set in Dudley, in the Black Country and it is about a second generation Sikh and his wife from the Punjab. Eureka! I learned that Meera herself has Sikh Punjabi origins and also hails from a village near to Wolverhampton in the Black Country!
This, I believe, was Meera's first book and she draws generously upon her own expe
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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? ...more
Girl with her Head in a Book
I have adored Meera Syal for years wherever she has turned up, whether she is being an actress, comedienne, cultural commentator or even being Granny on The Kumars at No. 42. Strangely however, I had never read any of her books until now. Still, a combination of hearing that Anita and Me had made it on to the GCSE syllabus and receiving her new book The House of Hidden Mothers on Netgalley made me decide to find out more. I had always had the idea that this was a memoir but although it does fall ...more
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Meera Syal's story about a young girl growing up in the Black Country during the 1970s.
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was absolutely charmed by this gossipy, funny, sometimes dark novel about Meena, part of the only Punjabi family in the village. I loved the peek into another culture, and the presentation of the Aunties and Uncles, the cooking of meals, the clothes, the respect, the importance of family. Although it did become dark, I loved being challenged by how Indian people were seen in Britain in the Sixties, and I was saddened by how the same attitudes are still being shown towards them in these so-call ...more
Jacquelynn Luben
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Apr 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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’
David Proffitt
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 07, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Asian theme book fans
Recommended to chucklesthescot by: received from bookcrossing
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
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this a while ago and realised how relevant it is especially in the context of BREXIT and the racial undertones and overtones so prevalent in the UK today. it also goes a long way in highlighting the way in which the Asian community has become entrenched in the UK with second and third generations of Asians having slowly becoming part-and-parcel of mainstream UK culture. the Balti houses on most High Streets are testimony to that. the book captures the psyche of the diaspora and as a 2nd gen ...more
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had a lot of fun reading about Meena, who is somewhat larger than life in her small ex-mining village. Both her family, her Indian Aunties and Uncles, and her Tollington neighbours were so lovingly and vivdly rendered that I really felt that I knew them and would know how they would react in any new situation put before them, that I might almost recognise them if I met them on the street.
Growing up is hard, and this was conveyed by Syal in sometimes excruciating detail. Meena is so lovable, a
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
abridged and rather annoying. See that bit in the blurb about being comapared to To Kill a Mockingbird - erm, no.
Dawn Probert
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Meera is brilliant. She is so descriptive.
Meena, Meena, Meena...

One of the few books I’ve come across where I truly connected with the protagonist. Multicultural identities isn’t unfamiliar to me - let’s say I have at least three in me. But to have a story about a British-Indian girl desperately trying to fit in with her surroundings was something truly emotional for me. Having this young energetic rebel was mind-blowing, certainly a good way to break the ceiling of Indian stereotypes, which I applaud Meera Syal for. It’s always refresh
Karen Barber
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anita and Me...a comic look at a troubled time, highlighting the tensions that come from the clash of cultures within its setting.
Nine year old Meena comes from a nice Punjabi family. Her parents are reluctant to let her forget her cultural roots, but Meena is at the age where she is more focused on the immediate. As the only coloured family in the small mining town of Tollington Meena is desperate to fit in with her peers...and the local ‘queen bee’ Anita. Inevitably, this doesn’t always go wel
Amber Shott
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book- I loved every page and every story. A memoir style centred around Meena trying to define her personal identity as she grows up. 
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: womens-prize
Meera Syal and her family lived in a former mining village near Wolverhampton where they were the only British-Indian family. Meena Kumar, her protagonist and narrator, is in the same situation. The depiction of the Kumar family and the community they live in is excellent. They are a part of the village, but their wide circle of friends come from the British-Asian diaspora. Many of the characters are probably based on people Meera knew. (There are three other non-white children in Meena's class ...more
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My BookCrossing review -

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
Mike Steven
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Richard Thompson
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-alouds
This is book #59 in our 2016 Read-aloud List.

We saw the movie based on the book on Acorn, and were charmed by the story and the character of Meena. It interesting to see what was included and what was left out in the transition from book to movie... I just checked: Meera Syal did write the scene play for the movie version. Myra Syal also plays Meena's Auntie Shaila.)

From the Goodreads burb:

Anita and Me, which has been compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, tells the story of Meena, the daughter of t
Dec 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I wouldn't say there was a plot to this book, but I also wouldn't say that it really needed one. The story centers around Meena, a girl whose parents immigrated to England from India and is having to deal with the prejudices of a town that doesn't really accept them. There is some entertainment within these pages, just as there are some touching moments and memorable sections that will stay with me for a while. All those things said, I don't know that I really bonded with the book the way some r ...more
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
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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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