This is book’s cover depicts Sunita’s double life: that is, the friction between her Indian heritage and adopted American values. Left: Sunita, who lives in Berkely, California. Right: Sunita, whose parents are from Kolkata, India.
Sunita Sen and Lucy Wu (from the first half of this blog series) have one thing in common. An aged relative from each of their native countries swoops in to destroy life as they know it. (Or at least, that’s how they perceive it in the beginning).
Sunita’s grandparents arrive from India, laden with mangoes (in a futile attempt to get it past Customs) and in traditional clothing, that is sarees and dhotis.
Everything changes after they arrive. Sunita’s mother no longer wears ‘Western’ clothing at home. Instead, she is permanently in a saree, to make her parents feel more “comfortable”. The food they have at home becomes more Indian. And Sunita’s parent’s evening walks become longer, as they begin to need more time away from home.
At first, Sunita is painfully self-concious about how different her family is from everyone else’s, but she realizes that different isn’t always bad. Maybe Eighth Grade wasn’t going to be so disastrous after all.