Aruna's Journeys

( 1 )

Overview

Aruna is an opinionated eleven-year-old girl who lives in Ohio, likes to collect rocks, and longs for a best friend at her new school. She is also-unfortunately, in her opinion-Indian-American.

ArunaÆs Journeys is an engaging, thoughtful and funny novel about ArunaÆs journey to self-acceptance. An unexpected summer-long trip to India helps Aruna appreciate Indian culture and clarifies for her that, even though she does not look like a ônormalö ...

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Overview

Aruna is an opinionated eleven-year-old girl who lives in Ohio, likes to collect rocks, and longs for a best friend at her new school. She is also-unfortunately, in her opinion-Indian-American.

ArunaÆs Journeys is an engaging, thoughtful and funny novel about ArunaÆs journey to self-acceptance. An unexpected summer-long trip to India helps Aruna appreciate Indian culture and clarifies for her that, even though she does not look like a ônormalö American, sheÆs not completely Indian either.

This novel is one of only a few available that deal with Indian-American children, a growing population in the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

India Currents

ArunaÆs Journeys is an outstanding novel about the struggles of an immigrant childÆs everyday life in American. Aruna, an 11-year-old girl who hails from the Indian state of Karnataka, is ashamed of her Indian background and culture. Problems worsen when summer is soon to begin and Darcy, ArunaÆs American best friend, offers to take Aruna to summer camp with her. Aruna runs home excitedly to ask her motherÆs permission and discovers the biggest surprise of her life - her parents had already planned a trip to India for the family for the whole summer.

ArunaÆs Journeys is a delightful novel that children as well as adults will enjoy, especially when reading it together.

Multicultural Review

Aruna longs to be an American and rejects her Indian culture and other Indian students she meets. Aruna then goes back to India with her parents and experiences reverse culture shock. She confronts all of the unfamiliar Indian languages, foods, customs, and environment.

An admired older cousin is struggling against her eldersÆ expectations of her in India, and she longs for the freedom Aruna has. As she returns to the United States, Aruna has begun to come to terms with her dual identity.

Books like this from alternative presses and by authors who share the cultural identity of their audience should be in every school and library, not only for the immigrant child who undergoes the process, but also for the American-born children who need to understand the hardships and dilemmas other children experience.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It has been almost seven years since Aruna's family left their native India for Ohio, and Aruna, now in sixth grade, is desperate to be a "normal" American. She wishes she looked more like her classmates and she envies her best friend's all-American home, complete with patchwork quilt on the wall, friendly pup under the table and apron-wearing Mom serving up homemade apple pie for an after-school snack. This lack of subtlety characterizes the book as a whole. Using Aruna's trip to visit relatives in India to interject descriptions of contemporary Indian ways and traditions, the author presents an awkward jumble of fact and fiction. The writing is further marred by jarring transitions and wooden dialogue. What Aruna learns in India-pride in her heritage; self-acceptance-is passed along to the reader without benefit of art: this book never escapes its didactic agenda. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Karen Saxe
At one level Aruna's Journey is about the struggles of an emigrant girl trying to balance her emotional need to fit in with her new country-mates with her (unknown to her) longings to preserve her Indian heritage. At a second level, it is about the trials that every pre-teen must endure in becoming an adult: learning to accept her family for what they are, learning to integrate home-life and her developing life outside of the home, and learning to feel good about her own likes and dislikes in intellectual and social pursuits. At a third level, it is an introduction to the culture of India through the eyes and heart of an eleven-year-old emigrant to America. Kids who feel, for one reason or another that they don't fit in, and are uncomfortable with this feeling will appreciate the story's message. Middle school libraries should keep this on the shelf. There is a Study Guide available through the publisher, but I have not seen it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780961940171
  • Publisher: Smooth Stone Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1997
  • Pages: 136
  • Sales rank: 1,065,499
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 8.08 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Read an Excerpt

From CHAPTER 9:

Aruna tried to stifle a yawn as her cousin Priya talked. She hadnÆt gotten a good nightÆs sleep in the first few days she had been in India because she was still not used to sleeping on the floor. Now they were bumping along in an autoriksha on their way to go shopping. The heat and the motion made Aruna even more sleepy.

Priya was a nice girl. Even though she was only 10 - over a year younger than Aruna - she was the same height and plumper. Her skin was lighter than ArunaÆs, and her braids were shiny and thick. Mom kept saying how pretty she was. Aruna didnÆt think she was all that pretty. If Priya went to ArunaÆs school, the kids might even call her pudgy. But Indians didnÆt like people to be too skinny.

Priya wanted to be with Aruna all the time. Like now, they were on their way to MG Road (that stood for Mahatma Gandhi Road) to buy Aruna some new clothes for the wedding. Priya insisted on riding in the same autoriksha as Aruna. As they rattled along in the sputtering three-wheeled vehicle, Priya held her hand and talked to her the entire trip. Aruna could hardly hear, the auto was so loud. She just nodded politely at intervals.

And Priya wasnÆt the only person who liked Aruna. All her relatives seemed really glad to see her. Every morning, as soon as Aruna woke up, Ajji brought her a cup of warm sweetened milk. Yesterday Padma Auntie had gotten up extra early to cook one of ArunaÆs favorite foods: masala dosa. Vandana and Sharmila made a point of introducing Aruna to any of their friends who dropped by. Aruna couldnÆt believe she had ever been worried that her relatives wouldnÆt like her! She felt almost embarrassed by all the attention she was getting.

Still, the first few days in India had been hard. When Aruna stepped into the damp bathroom to use the toilet, she saw huge brown cockroaches scurry into the walls, their long antennae waving. And using the toilet itself was so different. There was no toilet paper in the bathroom - in India people used water. There was a bucket and dipper under a water tap beside the toilet.

Aruna had to place her feet on the ceramic footrests and squat down over the porcelain toilet in the floor. It was hard to balance herself, especially when she used the dipper to wash herself. When she pulled up her pants she was still a little damp.

As she lay on a thin mattress on the floor the first night, beside the bed her mom and dad were in, she saw a skinny gray lizard clinging to the wall high above her. She stared at it for a long time. She wondered whether it would move or go away.

Just as she was about to fall asleep, she felt something crawl over her neck.

ôAah!ö she screamed, and flung the covers off. She brushed at her neck, but nothing was there. She couldnÆt sleep all night because she was afraid a lizard would fall on her, or a roach would crawl on her. Finally, her mom let Aruna get into the bed, and ArunaÆs dad had to sleep on the floor. MOA group of laughing young women walked by them, some with short hair, some with long braids and jasmine flowers in their hair. They wore salvar kameez in bright colors, the long tunics embroidered with flowers or designs. Aruna felt silly in her baggy T-shirt and sneakers with no socks. Everyone must know she was not from India! Even Priya fit in. She wore a new white and pink dress from America with a ruffle at the bottom, and chappals. Now Aruna wished she had listened to her mother and bought some more skirts or dresses. People in India seemed to dress fancy just to go shopping.

A small, squinting beggar woman in a faded sari tottered up to them. She held out her hand and pleaded for money. Padma Auntie said, ôGo away! You are always here.ö

Aruna stared at the bony woman with tangled hair, creased skin, and bare, dusty feet. She wanted to look away, but couldnÆt take her eyes off the beggar woman. The womanÆs voice kept whining, ôMa, ma,ö as she held out her dark, dirty claw-like hands.

Just then the other auto showed up, and Padma Auntie put a hand on ArunaÆs back. ôCome on,ö Auntie said.

Aruna kept staring at the beggar. Then she whispered to Padma Auntie, ôLet me give her something.ö Auntie gazed at Aruna for a second, shook her head, snapped open her purse, and extracted some paisa. ôHere,ö she said, and dropped the coins into the womanÆs hand. The woman put her palms together in front of her face, then shuffled off.

ôYou will get used to the beggars,ö Padma Auntie assured Aruna as they hurried into a department store with everyone else. ôWe cannot give money to everyone who asks.ö

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2000

    Fascinating Cultural Fiction

    This book allowed me to peek inside an unfamiliar culture: life in India. The story and characters kept my attention -- especially the character of Aruna, born in India and raised in Ohio, who isn't sure whether she is Indian or American. I enjoyed the glossary of Indian words at the end. This is an intelligently-written book that children of many cultures can enjoy.

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