Jaya is from Trinidad, Maria is from Mexico, and Lola is from Slovakia. The girls couldn’t be more different, except for two things: They’re all the daughters of maids and nannies in their prosperous suburban town of Meadowbrook, and they all long to fit in and succeed among their more privileged peers. But when Jaya’s mother is accused of stealing some valuable jewelry from her employer, the seemingly liberal town of Meadowbrook becomes a place of ugly tensions and racism, and the girls’ friendship threatens to buckle under the strain.
Once again, Marina Budhos has written a thoughtful and ambitious novel about class and the cultural differences that can both divide and unite.
Budhos's (Ask Me No Questions) sensitive exploration of immigrant lives focuses on eighth graders Jaya, Lola, and Maria, who are from Trinidad, Slovakia, and Mexico, respectively. They bond over the everyday conflicts and humiliations that come with being cultural outsiders and the daughters of maids in suburban New Jersey. Shy Jaya and her strong-willed mother, Mrs. Lal, do housekeeping for Mrs. Harmon, but when the elderly employer has a stroke, Mrs. Lal is accused of stealing, and Jaya and her mother face having to move. Meanwhile, Jaya worries that "she'd always be here, attached to her mother, picking up stray socks, serving chicken nuggets, and mopping floors while other kids could go out into the world and be themselves." Lola is bold and intelligent but, under pressure to run the household, she acts out at school; Maria wants to date popular Tash, but is cognizant of the racism that keeps them apart. As the girls struggle to assimilate, they drift apart, eventually recognizing the value of supportive community. The intricate characters and skillfully intertwined plots result in a convincing depiction of families overcoming isolation. Ages 12 up.
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A good book!
This was a really good book! I loved it!