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American as Paneer Pie

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  752 ratings  ·  179 reviews
An Indian American girl navigates prejudice in her small town and learns the power of her own voice in this brilliant gem of a middle grade novel full of humor and heart, perfect for fans of Front Desk and Amina’s Voice.

As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movie
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 9th 2020 by Aladdin
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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 ·  752 ratings  ·  179 reviews

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October 18, 2020: Absolutely loved this! I wish I had this book when I was a kid.

Representation: Indian-American (Marathi) MC; Homeland Indian side character who recently moved to America.
Ownvoices reader as: Indian born on foreign soil.
Trigger warnings: Microaggression, verbal bullying, racism, xenophobic political ideology, hate crime.

↦ the silent desi kid gradually learns to speak up against the discrimination.
↦ judgemental opinions among a minority group are challenged when Lekha
Jun 09, 2020 marked it as to-read
Did someone say Paneer?
Wendi Lee
Lekha was an Indian-American living in a small town an hour away from Detroit. She was used to fielding racist comments from her classmates and microaggressions from teachers, and instead of confronting them, Lekha has ignored them and tried not to attract attention. So when Avantika moves to town and started challenging the casual racism, Lekha feels both conflicted and exposed, yet also happy to have someone else who can share her love of Bollywood movies and Indian food.

More casual racism po
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-review
Beautiful. Truly was perfect from the very first pages to the last. I am a sucker for a shy girl standing up for herself so when Lekha did it was beyond perfect. I didn't expect to connect to her so much but the thing about not correcting people when they say your name wrong - that is me till this day. I find my name so easy to say but I always get Andrea... Of course, I connected with her shy nature because that's totally me as well. I loved how much Lekha grew as a person and all that she lear ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I wish I had read as a kid. If I could go back in time, this book would be a gift to myself.

So much emotion, so well thought out. 5 stars feels like too little for this masterpiece.
Neha Thakkar
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book spoke to me as a first generation Indian American. With heart, humor and hope Lekha learns how to balance her home self and her school self, along with learning how to speak out against racism in her community, and then balancing old and new Lekha. Being a first generation child isndificult no matter what, as you are always seesawing between the 2 cultures, and seemingly never “enough” of either. I love how this story shed light on what it feels like, how it’s not always easy to speak ...more
Kristin Crouch
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Ed/Library team for sharing American As Paneer Pie with Collabookation.
Lekha has been the only Indian kid in her Michigan suburb for her entire life. Which means that for her entire school career, she's been called Dot, asked why she smells, and been outcasted/dismissed by most classmates. Except for her best friend and next door neighbor, Noah, Lekha is on her own to survive the mistreatment from her peers. Luckily she has a supportive mom and dad, and some frie
Sierra Dertinger
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Supriya Kelkar has a way with her words, as it was so easy to connect with Lekha from the first few pages. Lehka is an Indian-American girl who feels like she can't blend her two different lives together. She was born in the US, but her home life is 100% Desi. When she goes to school she doesn't blend in, instead she is teased. A rude white boy named Liam calls her "Dot" because of her bindi birthmark. He also makes unruly remarks about her smell, and she just can't seem to get away from him. No ...more
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to School Library Journal for the ARC!
Brava to the author and the main character, Lehka. So refreshing and so genuine. Definitely planning to purchase for my library. My only request would be that the Indian foods, clothing, and other terms were more explained or had a glossary. I sometimes felt as 'out of it' as I'm sure an immigrant feels here; perhaps, there was a reason for not having one?
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it


I always love reading a good story that focuses on tolerance and acceptance towards anyone different from us. American as Paneer Pie shows the issues some Indian-Americans feel from being uncomfortable in their own skin, even if they are born there.

The author did a wonderful job with this book. She wrote all the characters in a delightful way. I enjoyed Lekha as the main character and could relate to her. Even as an adult, w
Ms. Yingling
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Lehka loves being on the swim team and hanging out with neighbor and friend Noah in her town an hour from Detroit, but she occasionally wishes she weren't the only Desi girl in her school. When new neighbors move in and have a girl her age AND have just come from India, Lehka doesn't quite know what to think. There are a lot of things she has in common with Avantika, but since her new neighbor is a fob (fresh of the boat), she doesn't understand that there are som
I love the representation in this!! I'm not sure if it's accurate, but it felt like it! So many Indian foods, trust me, I'm going to be searching them up so I can figure out what I'm making today. I really love seeing new cultures, and I don't understand people who just hate people for being different. Their life and culture is so cool, and if you just spend a minute to appreciate it, you'd maybe learn that they're actually pretty awesome people.

The political situation reminded me so much of the
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have so many words for this book.

Neither of the two protagonists' experience mirrors my own childhood growing up Indian-American in a very white world. However, that did not stop me from seeing parts of my experience in this book. We often overlook how important belonging and significance are in the human experience. Lehka's account of not feeling belonging in her school or even completely feeling belonging with her Indian friends was extremely familiar to me. The way she tries to make herself
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was such a great middle grade book exploring what happens when people in power (in this case the Senator) show hate towards people of other races and religions. It hows how fear fuels hate. It shows the importance of being a good ally and not quietly standing by or letting hate go unchecked. It was a very powerful message.

I learned so much more about Indian culture from this book, which surprised me because I read a lot about India, my sister-in-law married a man from Indian descent (they h
Joe Eyres
What a fabulous and timely book! I love the whole story, the characters, and especially the word play! The descriptions were amazing- I was constantly hungry while reading this book! I renewed my love of Indian music and gained knowledge of dance, clothing, holidays, and more culture.

The overall theme of finding your voice and standing up for yourself mixed well with the topic of xenophobia and nationalism in politics.

I gained more knowledge and will constantly improve my teaching because of t
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I stayed up way past my bed time to finish this one and then spent a bunch of time today urging people to read AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE. I loved everything about this book. The writing, the very realistic characters, the plot. And this book is so timely. If you are looking for a book that examines racism, microagressions, politics, complicity but does so in the context of an engaging story, pick this one up for you AND your kids.
Michele Knott
Really enjoyed this #ownvoices novel. Loved the inclusion of swimming and seeing an Indian American character excel at a sport.
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was eye-opening in a lot of ways. The themes that permeate the book are so relevant to the world today. The story revolves around Lekha Divekar, a young Indian American girl who wants so badly to belong with her classmates. Her parents are immigrants from India and have kept many of their traditions. Lekha enjoys many of these traditions but she dislikes having to always answer questions about her traditions and beliefs. She's also been bullied and stereotyped by those around her. She ...more
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am not a teenage girl, and I was not born in a country where my forefathers (and mothers) could not trace they ancestry back to, but there was something so relatable about this book that I read it in almost one stretch, wanting to see it all the way through. The one bias I might have had is that I spoke a different language at home than the city I lived in throughout my schooling(which was entirely in English). I was so shy that I refused to make mistakes enough to speak the local language and ...more
Christie Maliyackel
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything, everything about this book. I’m so glad stories like this are being told - it makes the whole immigrant experience so much less isolating. This story was entirely relatable - the good and the bad. I was constantly cheering the protagonist on, hoping she eventually finds her voice, confidence and courage to speak up and out. It was truly like reliving grade school / junior high all over again... no matter how cringeworthy the memories... and I’m so glad this book is out there ...more
delph ✨
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Full review on my blog : here

An e-ARC was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have the words to express what I think about this book but know that I totally loved it. The premise seems simple: a young indian-american girl in a really white town, juggling between her indian heritage and the image she shows at school, an image she has because she doesn’t want the white kids to pick at her.
Alex  Baugh
Eleven-year-old Lekha Divekar may be a first generation Indian American, but she couldn't be prouder of her Indian heritage, culture, and her Hindu faith. And there's nothing Lekha enjoys more than a good Bollywood movie, some delicious Indian food, and playing raas at home with her best friend Noah. But these enjoyments belong only to the at-home Lekha. At-school Lekha is a different story.

As the only Desi* in her school in Oakridge, Michigan, Lekha tries her hardest to fit in and not be notic
Nov 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Love the strong expression of characters cultural and religious context, the emotional arc lacks some flow
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
💫One of the best middle grade books dealing with racism, discrimination, bullying, attacks on immigrants, identity, friendship and family dynamics, multicultural background; Indian cinema, food, festivals and culture

I really love how the author made the voices of these young characters really relatable which develop into something which would echo to wherever and whoever it reaches to to echo back the same and make whoever reads this book think twice on the themes this book handles.

This is incre
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
I listened to the audiobook version of this and really enjoyed it. I love to hear the actual pronunciation of non-English words, instead of reading along and guessing how they're supposed to sound. Lekha was a very realistic middle schooler, and her journey from trying to make herself invisible to someone who could stand up for herself was believeable. ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was touted by many book lists, so I immediately reserved it at my local library. Was the first one to get it too! And I have to say, I loved it from the go! So well-written, fluid, un-pretentious, funny at times and quite emotional at others! Also, full props for the unapologetic usage of Marathi words and expressions! It was refreshing and very apt!

The book is about a 10 year old girl named Lekha Divekar, who lives in a small white-majority town an hour from Metro Detroit, and her str
I dare you to read this book without your mouth watering at all of the delicious Indian food being described! I also dare your heart not to melt a bit at the vulnerability and angst we observe with 11 year old Lehka, born in Michigan of immigrant parents, who seems to live two lives: a home life filled with tradition and a school life where she is teased for her culture. Then a new neighbor moves in, Avantika and her family, who are new immigrants from India. Lehka worries that Avantika will be ...more
Reading Relish
This was PHENOMENAL! Definitely one of my favorite reads of 2021!


*Trigger warnings in this book for colorism (challenged), hate crimes (challenged), micro-aggressions (challenged), racism (challenged), verbal bullying (challenged), and xenophobia (challenged)*

I cannot tell you how much I loved this book without spoiling a lot. And while I’m VERY tempted to to hit the spoiler button, I won’t, because I need to convince you go out and buy this book and read it!

Words can’t describe how movi
Andrea Arango
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
"You're as American as.... as paneer pie." 🍕

As an ESOL teacher, I work with two types of students. The first are those recently arrived newcomers most people probably imagine when thinking of an ESOL class. The others are kids of immigrants who were born here, but because of a myriad of reasons, haven't been able to exit out of English Language Learner services.

Both kinds of students populate our public schools, but I have to say - this is probably the first MG book I've ever read that actually
Alexa Hamilton
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tween
It’s certainly not the first book about not fitting in as a person of color in a very white town but it’s done well. Lekha just ignores the teasing she gets about her Indian heritage and the birthmark locates in the middle of her forehead, and the teasing her best friend Noah, a white boy gets. Everything changes when a girl from India moves in across the street. The new girl knows how to stand up for herself, has a much more positive view on her own culture and helps Lekha figure out her own wa ...more
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