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Thirteen-year-old Anjali is first-generation American. Her parents are from Trinidad and they live in the Indo-Caribbean neighborhood of Richmond Hill where her father owns a roti shop. Anjali’s grandmother also works and Anjali helps after school. Anjali has a strong passion for cooking and a dream to take part in a national kids’ cooking show.
When the cooking show auditions coincide with an important academic event, Anjali’s parents put their foot down. Her father wants a future for her that is different from his and does not involve slaving over a stove all day. “I want more for you and Anand,” he says. “You are too young to know what’s good for you.” Even her supportive grandmother takes her parents’ side and so Anjali has to find alternative ways to follow her dream. The book reads like a realistic portrait of the life in a Caribbean immigrant family with a youngster who wants to follow a non-traditional dream, even down to the parents’ very differential treatment of their daughter versus their son.
Stir It Up moves along with a quick pace pushed along by Anjali’s strong, energetic character and her zest for life and cooking. The book is peppered with recipes for life (e.g. Be Who You Are Bread and Success) and for food (e.g. Anjali’s Red Bean Pudding).
This was a fun, quick read. I was happy to read about an every day East Indian Caribbean family. The story is a little predictable and not very deep, but sometimes it really is okay to read just for fun!