Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blue Boy: Indian-American boy growing up in Ohio

Blue BoyBlue Boy by Rakesh Satyal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blue Boy is a beautifully written, bittersweet story about an Indian-American adolescent growing up in Ohio, discovering how different he is from everyone around him. I was drawn to this book because the name of the main character, Kiran, is similar to the name of one of my sons (Kieran).

Kiran is a highly artistic, creative, and spiritual child. He is drawn to pink, dressing up, makeup, Strawberry Shortcake, and the finer things in life. He has an amazing sense of self in spite of the ridicule and scorn he is subject to from the Indian community, his classmates, and even his parents.

While reading the book, many times I cringed and thought to myself, "he's not really going to do that, is he???" But he did!

The author graduated from Princeton's creative writing program, and some of the story is based in his own life and experience. (I thought it was interesting that I happened to read a book by a Princeton graduate right on the heels of "Admission," the novel about the admissions process at Princeton.)

These final sentences, in the Q&A with the author at the end of the book, when he is asked what he would like people to take away from the book, summarize this book well:

"Most importantly, I want them to have laughed good-heartedly. And I want them to have seen the world somewhat differently--to understand how hard childhood can be for the culturally and sexually marginalized but also how such isolation affords a child a very strong sense of self."

As someone who enjoys reading about different cultures and different ways of seeing the world--and also as the mother of sons, this was a satisfying read.

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