Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
This an absolutely beautiful graphic novel!
Priyanka Das lives with her mother in the United States. I don't think it's ever explicitly stated where-but she flies into LAX and there are palm trees so I think California is a safe bet. Priyanka, or Pri as she prefers, is dealing with all the usual teenage stuff-school, friends, driving lessons, and family changes. Growing up the only child and with her single mother, Pri found a surrogate father in her Uncle Jatin. When his wife becomes pregnant for the first time, Pri finds herself spending less time with her uncle and more time questioning her mother about her previous life in India. When her mother only offers vague answers, if she answers at all, Pri becomes hurt and frustrated.
One night, Pri offers a selfish prayer to the goddess Shakti. When her Uncle's baby ends up in the hospital, Pri feels responsible and cuts herself off from the family. Opening a suitcase found in her closest, Pri comes across items from her mother's previous life in India. When she tries on a beautiful silk shawl she is magically transported to India. With two guides, an elephant and a bird, they travel the country taking in all the beautiful sights.
Seeing the shawl and her new prize money from a comic book contest as a sign, Pri asks her mother to travel to India with her to see the country for real. When her mother refuses, explaining the country isn't safe and beautiful the way Pri believes, Pri feels even more isolated. After an impulsive call to her sister, a sister she hasn't spoken to in fifteen years, Pri's mother makes arrangements for Pri to visit her Aunt and Uncle in India.
But real-life India isn't what Pri hoped it would be. Traffic, poverty, and a stern Uncle make her time in India tense. Seeking to escape to her magical India, Pri tries on the shawl only to find that it doesn't work now that she is really there. Distraught, she shows her Aunt the shawl only to have it transport her Aunt instead. The two women go on to find the mysterious maker of the shawl and learn of it's origins. Along the way, Pri learns about her birth father and why her mother refuses to speak of him, and how the shawl impacted her life long before she ever laid eyes on it.
This book is beautifully written and drawn. I really enjoyed how the art is kept black and white until the shawl transports the character, then the illustrations turn vivid and bold. The relationship between Pri and her mother and how they both keep secrets to protect each other is very interesting.
I really loved this book and I can't wait to get in to the hands of all the kids that come in to the Library!
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