How to Find What You're not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani

Published on July 08, 2022

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How To Find What You’re Not Looking For

By Veera Hiranandani

Reviewed by Elizabeth DeVincenzo

Told in the second person point of view, this historical fiction novel introduces readers to 12-year-old Ariel, her older sister Lena, and her parents in the summer of 1967.   Ariel and her family are Jewish and living in Connecticut.    When Lena meets and falls in love with Raj, an Indian man who is Hindu, her parents immediately object and Lena and Raj run away to NYC and elope.  Ariel feels very alone and sad without her big sister.  Ariel is also struggling with her own issues at school; being bullied by an anti-Semitic classmate and struggling academically especially with writing due to an undiagnosed learning disability.     Ariel still finds solace and comfort in her family’s bakery- the one constant in her life, until she finds out that her parents have plans to sell it due to financial problems.    With the help of a new teacher at school, Miss Field, Ariel finds the best way to express herself is through poetry.  When she writes poems, her thoughts flow onto the paper effortlessly which help her work through her family problems and changes in her life. Ariel hopes the recent Supreme Court ruling, Loving V. Virginia which states that banning interracial marriage is unconstitutional will help her parents accept Lena and Raj’s marriage and grandchild who will be born in a few months.   This novel will appeal to readers who prefer character-driven novels to ones that are more plot-driven.   Ariel and her family experience a lot of emotional growth throughout the novel, even though they still have some issues to resolve.    An author’s note is included explaining how this novel is based on the author’s family history and giving insight into their experiences.   Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction (especially ones that take place in the 1960s) and coming of age novels.   For more information regarding Loving V. Virginia, I recommend the children’s book- The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko (2015).

Favorite quotes: “But that’s art, Ariel.  It’s your gift to the world.  People will see what they need to see.  Sometimes it will mean to them exactly what it meant to you.  Those people are your soul mates.”- Miss Field

Target Age- Ages 8-12

Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner- Middle Grade- 2022

Kirkus Reviews- 8/1/21- Starred Review

Publisher’s Weekly- 9/27/21- Starred Review

School Library Journal- 9/1/21- Starred Review


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