Though they’re divided by class, language, appearance—you name it—Chloe and Lakshmi have a lot in common. Both girls are new to Class Five at Premium Academy in New Delhi, India, and neither seems to fit in. But they soon discover how extraordinary an ordinary friendship can be and how celebrating our individuality can change the world.
I requested this from Net Galley after reading the blurb and realising just how important this book could be for kids to read. Especially for kids who are like me, Third Culture Kids.
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Chloe however, has only really lived in one place all her life, Boston. So she gets quite the culture shock when her parents relocate her older and baby sister to Delhi. Her mother is an investigative journalist, and along with her father they agree that while they will send their girls to a private school, that they will make sure they are aware of the privilege they experience living in India.
Unfortunately Chloe is only a kid and doesn’t entirely understand it all as well as her teen sister does. Which is perfectly understandable. She understands that a lot of people are poor and don’t live in ‘proper’ houses, but she can’t seem to fully wrap her head around it until she meets Lakshmi.
As the new kid in the class, her goal was to befriend the pretty and popular, and rich, girl in the class. The downside is that she is also quite a horrible person. And although Chloe knows that, and at times even admits it, she still wants to be friends with her because she feels that is the kind of person she should be friends with. Like they are on the “same level” or something. Instead she ends up befriending Lakshmi, a witty and sweet girl who brings out the best in Chloe.
“That’s why I felt happy when I was around her. Because she wasn’t trying to be something different. She was always unapolagetically herself… You know the periodic table in chemistry? All those elements you can combine to make different compounds but that you can never break down? O is always Oxygen. He is always Helium. They are what they are. They’ll never change. That’s what Lakshmi was like to me: perfect in her own form.”
This whole bit, I just… I LOVE IT!!! It’s so cute and so sweet and I just adore it so much. It’s just pure love and adoration of the platonic sort. The kind you have for those special friends in your life that fit so perfectly with you, like you just slot together so well. And it’s also so incredibly sweet???? All middle schoolers, especially girls, need to be told that they are what they are, they shouldn’t try to change because they are perfect in their own form.
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“I was still blond. And I still couldn’t speak Hindi to save my life. But I had a new home that finally felt like home, even if it wasn’t Boston. And I had a friend, a real friend – one who liked to climb trees and do origami and play in the rain, just like me.”
When I read this it just felt like Kate Darnton yelled FOUND YOU! Because oh wow, does this EVER encapsulate that classic TCK feeling. You never stop feeling like everywhere you’ve been was home, and you never stop feeling sad that your friends from previous places are so far, but when a new place becomes Home again and you find new people that you can call a friend, everything feels right again.
In my opinion, I think this book is great for kids to read who have both experienced what Chloe has and those who haven’t. It’s really important, I feel, that especially now that information is so readily available that kids read about the experiences and lives of kids on the other side of the world, whose lives are the complete polar opposite to theirs.
I also just love how Chloe is written!! She is so relatable and the dialogue is exactly the way I’d expect a kid to talk. Well I was 10/11 quite some time ago so I’m not entirely sure how kids are these days but I doubt it’s very different from the way Chloe talks here.
I do wish I had read this book as a kid! I think I would have really enjoyed it and appreciated the perspective it could have given me at that time in my life. But I’m glad I was able to read it now.
CHLOE IN INDIA: 4 Books!
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