How to Find What You're Not Looking For

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're not looking for by veera hiranandani

New historical fiction from a Newbery Honor–winning author about how middle schooler Ariel Goldberg's life changes when her big sister elopes following the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, and she's forced to grapple with both her family's prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences, as she defines her own beliefs. 

Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg's life feels like the moment after the final guest leaves the party. Her family's Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, and her older sister has eloped with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. As change becomes Ariel's only constant, she's left to hone something that will be with her always--her own voice.---from the publisher

384 pages                              978-0525555032                            Ages 8-12

Keywords:  20th century, historical fiction, middle school, family, diversity, diverse books, family life, Jewish, Hindu, acceptance, accepting others, finding yourself, finding your voice, girls and women, sisters, marriage, tradition, prejudice, values, family values, heritage, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old

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How do you find the truth in your own family? How do you reach down in yourself and gather enough courage to see what your family believes in, what your family is teaching you, and face the feeling and the knowledge in yourself that your family...your family...is wrong?

Ariel Goldberg is a middle schooler back in the days when interracial marriage was illegal. Ariel is Jewish. She's not about to marry anybody right now - she's only 12. But Ariel has an older sister, Leah, and Ariel sees first hand how much her sister loves a young man - a young man who is not Jewish - a young man named Raj who is Hindu.

How exciting, how special is the night when Ariel's family gets to meet this wonderful young man. He comes for dinner - you know - that awful night when the parents examine the boyfriend for a few hours in the living room and dining room. There is love there - yes there is - but not from the parents. Ariel's parents are prejudiced. They do not accept this wonderful young man even though their daughter loves him deeply.

So...here we are...the long held beliefs of the family crashing down around the deep love of their daughter.

Ariel is fighting her own battles in middle school, working hard to find her own voice in a school culture where prejudice also thrives. Now she is caught in the middle of this utter confusion at home with her own family. She is witness to the awfulness of the situation. She is losing her sister to the prejudice of her parents.

What comes next? Do you stick with your parents and what they have learned from the generations before them? Do you trust your own inner voice?

It takes courage to see truth. It takes courage to face down prejudice. Not a touchy-feely feel-good story. This one hits a raw place that a lot of readers may discover they have inside them. They too may find something they were not looking for.

Veera Hiranandani takes us all into a very important space in our families, our friendships, our communities. Yes, they made interracial marriage legal in the United States. But if you look hard enough you'll see the other spaces where equality is still denied and truth is unwelcome.

Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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