Born Confused

Born Confused

4.6 99
by Tanuja Desai Hidier

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Cross-cultural comedy about finding your place in America . . . and finding your heart wherever, from an amazing new young author.

Dimple Lala doesn't know what to think. She's spent her whole life resisting her parents' traditions. But now she's turning seventeen and things are more complicated than ever. She's still recovering from a year-old break-up and her

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Cross-cultural comedy about finding your place in America . . . and finding your heart wherever, from an amazing new young author.

Dimple Lala doesn't know what to think. She's spent her whole life resisting her parents' traditions. But now she's turning seventeen and things are more complicated than ever. She's still recovering from a year-old break-up and her best friend isn't around the way she used to be. Then, to make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a "suitable boy." Of course, it doesn't go well . . . until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web of words and music. Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue.

This is a story about finding yourself, finding your friends, finding love, and finding your culture -- sometimes where you least expect it.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for Tanuja Desai Hidier's BORN CONFUSED:

* "Absorbing and intoxicating, this book is sure to leave a lasting impression." -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, boxed and starred review

"Compelling and witty…gives voice to a new generation of Americans." --USA TODAY

"A breathtaking experience." --KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review

"Complicated, chaotic, and absolutely charming." --SEVENTEEN

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Dimple Lala is one of only two East Indian students in her suburban New Jersey high school and she is forever trying to fit in by being more like her “American” peers. Her icon is long-time best friend, tall, blonde, blue-eyed Gwyn. The summer between junior and senior years presents a wealth of challenges for Dimple. Dimple is madly trying to escape the clutches of the “marriage mafia” she sees her parents to be. Gwyn wants to be like Dimple and does everything she can to appropriate Dimple’s East Indian customs, her family and, finally, the “suitable boy” Dimple’s parents have picked out for her. This book is filled with poignant insights and occasionally lyrical writing, but it is about 200 pages too long, and in many ways, too predictable. There is a heavy reliance on East Indian terms, without a glossary provided, which often makes getting the sense of the text a challenge. The frequent over-the-top and lengthy strings of made-up adjectives and adverbs become wearing in short order. Although there is much of value here, the gems of wisdom are buried in verbiage. It will be a hard sell to all but the most dedicated readers. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.; Ages 14 up.
Publishers Weekly
"An engrossing, personal account of the Indian-American experience through the eyes of a New Jersey teen," wrote PW in a boxed review. "On one level, the book explores the growing pains, rebellious phases, peer pressures and first love experienced universally by teens. On a deeper level, it celebrates a harmonious blending of cultures as it traces one adolescent's bumpy trek toward self-actualization." Ages 13-up. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Sixteen-year-old Dimple Lala, the only child of loving East Indian parents, has a good life. Dimple is confused about her identity, however, and despite her passion for photography, she lacks the self-confidence to pursue it. Her parents want her to embrace her Indian heritage, but because she has always lived in New Jersey, Dimple wants to be more American, more like her best friend Gwyn. When Dimple's parents set her up with Karsh Kapoor, the son of a family friend, she goes through with the uneventful meeting for her parents' sake. Later, in a chance meeting at a club, Dimple is surprised to discover that she likes Karsh. When Gwyn decides to go after Karsh, Dimple feels that she is no competition for her vivacious friend. Her interest in Karsh sparks a need to know more about her heritage, and Dimple gets involved in the local South Asian community. Dimple finds other South Asian Americans who are struggling with identity issues, including a lesbian couple and a drag queen, and she no longer feels like a misfit. As Dimple becomes more comfortable in her own skin, she moves from black-and-white to color photography, realizes she loves Karsh, and has a falling-out with Gwyn. Dimple's happy ending is a little too tidy, particularly her fast reunion with Gwyn, and therefore is a bit unbelievable. An unusual and delightful coming-of-age story, it begins rather slowly, but Desai Hidier's vivid descriptions and sense of humor will hold the attention of readers, and they will cheer on Dimple. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Scholastic,432p,
— Carolyn Carpan
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Dimple Lala has spent her entire life trying to fit in. In India, she is too American, while in America she feels unable to conform, largely because of her parents' efforts to educate and involve her in Indian culture. By her 17th birthday, she feels incapable of making anyone happy and is hopelessly confused as to where she belongs. Her parents are unhappy about her obsession with photography and her dating activities, while Dimple herself feels that her best friend, Gwyn, is either ignoring her for a new boyfriend or trying to usurp Dimple's family. Her parents come up with what they think is a perfect solution-they introduce her to Karsh, a suitable boy. Dimple is turned off at the thought. Just when she is sure that things can't get more complicated, she meets him again, now involved in activities that would render him completely unsuitable to her parents but that interest her. By this time Gwyn decides that he seems like the perfect boyfriend for her and Dimple ends up with a number of tricky situations. This involving story, filled with detail about the protagonist's life and background, will reward its readers. The family background and richness in cultural information add a new level to the familiar girl-meets-boy story. Teens will be rooting for Dimple and her quest to find her own place in her family and country.-Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An Indian-American teen experiences a dizzying summer chasing boys, her best friend, and her identity. Dimple Lala is accustomed to being one of only two Indians in her suburban New Jersey high school, but custom does not lead to comfort, and she feels acutely that she has no real place either in the Indian community of her parents or the American world of her peers. When her best friend Gwyn, blonde, beautiful, and endlessly charismatic, fixes her up with a college boy for her 17th birthday and she becomes monumentally, stinking drunk, her parents decide to take drastic action in the form of an arranged introduction to a "suitable boy." Dimple does her best to fend off their good intentions, but, too late, she finds herself falling in love, almost against her will, with said suitable boy, who actually spins a mean disc as a nightclub DJ. Dimple emerges as a smart, funny, and original voice whose familial, friendship, and identity struggles are both universal and beautifully specific. Newcomer Desai Hidier crafts a frequently hilarious narrative whose familiar teen-quest-for-identity plot is peopled with highly distinctive and likable characters and is overlaid with a fearless and glorious sense of linguistic possibilities that (along with some idiosyncratic punctuation) seems positively Joyceian. The wordplay is fairly simple at first, but as the plot progresses and Dimple’s feelings and understandings become more complex, the language becomes increasingly metaphorical and abstract. On a solo nighttime photographic tour through New York, Dimple comes close to a cultural epiphany, and the descriptive language takes off. At one point she describes exiting the New York subway: "From a swifttunnel of cut blackness and counterfeit light through a yellowy pool of candle wax turnstiled, metal still muggy to the touch from that rush of hungering hands and up the stairs and out the narrow door into that greater darkness but this one enormously ongoing and violently adorned." If the plot is a tad predictable, if the love interest is just about too good to be true—who cares? The exuberant, almost psychedelic linguistic riffs will catch readers up in a breathtaking experience that is beyond virtually anything being published for teens today. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Tanuja Desai Hidier is American-born and currently based in the UK. She grew up in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and graduated from Brown University. Prior to moving to the UK, she lived in New York City, where she worked by day as a writer/editor for magazines, CD-ROM projects and websites.

Her first novel, BORN CONFUSED, is a coming-of-age story with an Indian-American protagonist, an aspiring photographer living in New Jersey, and is set in both NJ and New York City, largely in the context of the burgeoning South Asian Club scene. The heart of Born Confused is about learning to bring two cultures together without falling apart, yourself, in the process. The book takes its title from ABCD, or American Born Confused Desi, a slightly derogatory term that the first generation South Asians in the States and elsewhere use to describe these second generation Americans who are supposedly “confused” about their South Asian backgroun. Desi is Hindi for “from my country.”

This theme of first and second generation India, and of finding your place in America, figures prominently in much of Desai Hidier's other work as well. her Partition-era short story, “The Border,” was awarded first prize in the fiction category in the London Writers/Waterstones Competition in October 2001. Also in the fall of 2001, her short story, “Tiger, Tiger,” was included in the Big City Lit anthology (New York City) celebrating the last decade of Asian-American writing. Earlier versions of both these works were part of the collection of connected stories for which whe was the 1995 recipient of the James Jones First Novel Fellowship Award.

Desai Hidier's short films, The Test (she wrote and directed) and The Assimiliation Alphabet (she co-wrote and -directed) deal with many of the same cultural assimilation themes as her fiction. The Test has screened at the Tribeca Film Center as part of the 19th Asian American International Film Festival, as well as several other venues. It received an Award of Merit from the 1996 Sinking Creek Film and Video Festival at Vanderbuilt University and was included in the curriculum of a New York University course in 1997, South Asian American Youth Comes of Age.

Tanuja now lives in London, where she is the lead vocalist/lyricist in a melodic rock band.

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Born Confused (LIBRARY EDITION) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 99 reviews.
darkfairy1984 More than 1 year ago
Anybody want to figure me out this is the book to read I mean it's me from start to finish (well not the ending but you get the picture). I mean I am so totally an ABCD (American born confused desi) that it's not even funny. the parents are even exactly like mine! my mother is constantly complaining about my weight and my father is always telling me I can do better. and even though I'm engaged to someone of a different race their still trying to get me married off to someone of my own culture. Anyway good read and if you're indian (asian indian that is) and you were born in the U.S. and you need to find out exactly who you are and what you are this is the book to read
Guest More than 1 year ago
1.) as ignorant americans,it gives you an insight to other cultures 2.)it starts off tad bit slow, but does pick up 3.) may get you into trouble because you will be staying up late to read this 4.)gives you hope (eventhough that sounds cheesy) 5.)tells you what a real drag queen looks like DRAG QUEEN POWA!!! 6.)will blow your mind 7.) no includes a dull moment 8.) some of the terms may be hard to read (in which case..learn to read) 9.) everyone and anyone will have something in common with a character 10) proves that we're all human BAN RACIAL LABELS!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why is it that i have the feeling that eryone in the clan hate me?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lilywolf is in horseclan, at cat dance result one
Labrattcq More than 1 year ago
I received ARC to provide an honest review of this book. This is a solid coming of age book; growing up, fitting in and finding yourself. Nothing new there except the focus in this book is an Indian family. We follow Dimple Lala through her journey of not being Indian or American enough. Like most teens, she is pulled in several directions at once but this story is told with humor and an interesting twist. Although the book is rather long, it is a fast read that will keep you entertained. There is something that everyone in any culture can relate to in this story and it should be a must read for teens, if it isn’t already. I know that I have suggested this book to my friends with teens and pre-teens so that hopefully they will realize they are not alone in how they feel. I wish that I could have read this book when I was their ages, but better late than never.
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
Growing up is difficult enough, but try it while being part of a family with strong ethnic beliefs and practices while trying to fit into the American culture! Dimple doesn't feel like an American, but she doesn't feel like an Indian either, in fact, she doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere! Sweet and sometimes overly naïve, Dimple measures herself against her best friend, Gwyn, the epitome of what Dimple thinks is the American ideal, fair, thin and tall, beautiful and bubbly, the polar opposite to her dark, short and full-figured self. A camera buff, Dimple falls into the role of Gwyn’s foil, her personal groupie and fangirl as she is swallowed up in all that is Gwyn. Struggling between being what her traditional parents want and what she wants, Dimple fights with insecurity magnified by feeling different, all while being desperate to find the real Dimple. Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier is a wonderful tool for learning about those who make up the melting pot that is the United States. Filled with humorous moments, dramatic moments and some truly painful glimpses of being a teen, Dimple’s tale goes beyond race, beyond culture and straight to your heart. Watching Dimple begin to blossom in her own right is like watching the first flowers of spring break through the last of the frozen snow as she learns to appreciate the wealth of knowledge from both of her countries. Highly recommended for high school reading! I received this ARC edition from Push in exchange for my honest review.
ToManyBooksNotEnoughTime More than 1 year ago
Re-Issue of a Solid Middle Grade Book I would like to thank NetGalley and Push for granting me the opportunity to read ebook in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. I give this book 3.5 stars, but only 3 stars in review (as only whole numbers are accepted) until I see if the typographical errors are corrected in the finished copy from Push. <blockquote>Tanuja Desai Hidier's fantastically acclaimed cross-cultural debut comes to PUSH! Dimple Lala doesn't know what to think. Her parents are from India, and she's spent her whole life resisting their traditions. Then suddenly she gets to high school and everything Indian is trendy. To make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a &quot;suitable boy.&quot; Of course it doesn't go well -- until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web . Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue. This is a funny, thoughtful story about finding your heart, finding your culture, and finding your place in America.</blockquote> What I like About This Story: This is a lovely story about figuring out who you are, or at least the first solid steps, since we continually evolve throughout our lives. Dimple's best friend is her opposite in most ways. Gwyn is tall, thin, with blond hair and blue eyes. She is the American ideal. And to top it off she has the personality to match, outgoing, bubbly, open, engaging, effervescent. In short Dimple thinks Gwyn is incandescent, the bees-knees, the sunshine under which she flourishes. Dimple considers herself to be a wallflower, as she never seems to know what to say, or what to wear for that matter. It doesn't help her already stunted self-esteem that she has womanly curves. Not slightly curves, but all-out hourglass curves. And when she looks around she sees white girls that are tall and thin, thin, thin. So she is constantly comparing herself to Gwyn and others like her and coming up short, so to speak. She doesn't feel like an American, but she doesn't feel like an Indian either, so she feels as if there is no place she fits. Dimple is sweet and wholesome. Her character is so naive that it's to the point of almost being too over the top. But she has a good heart. Once her blinders start coming off she becomes an even more enjoyable character. It takes her looking outside her own messy feelings to get the beginning of a grasp on the similarities between all people, regardless of ethnicity, body type, skin/hair/eye color - underneath we all have a heart, a pair of lungs, muscles, teeth, bones, etc. Even Dimple's cousin and parents show insecurities that sail right over her oblivious head.  On the surface Gwyn is a good foil for Dimple, demonstrating that no matter what your exterior looks like you can still feel you are never _fill in the blank_ enough. Yet each girl is so wrapped up in their own internal insecurities they are blind to the fact that everyone else is going through the same thing at some level. Neither girl recognizes that they are envious of one another. Eventually things come to a head and the two girls finally let out some of their frustration, anger, and accumulated slights that they attribute to the other. This serves to illustrate how bad it is to keep your feelings bottled up, yet it also shows that you will survive airing things out with the party causing them, even if it means risking permanent damage to the relationship. Karsh, Kavita, and Zara Thustra (who can resist a character named after part of the title of a Friedrich Neitzchie book?), are all great characters. Each help Dimple find herself in one manner or another. And each is also flawed to some degree, some more than others. A series of events happen that make Dimple finally look around, really pay attention to the world and people in her sphere. This in turn leads to a cascade of mini-epiphanies almost daily, and with each one another piece of her life falls into a more comfortable relationship with the rest of her. Suddenly she discovers connections where she'd never before noticed them, opening up her eyes to her own personal growth as well as the growth of those around her. Growth and changes that are not solely limited to her age group either. What Didn't Work For Me: While I loved Dimple's devotion to Gwyn, I felt that the relationship was very unbalanced. It frequently felt as if Gwyn was simply taking advantage of Dimple - &quot;borrowing&quot; and of her clothes that she liked, doing the same with Dimple's jewelry, even going so far as to try to appropriate her very culture and 'be more Indian.' It often seemed that is was all about Gwyn, and she only contacted Dimple when she needed something. Though this behavior is explained, somewhat, that still didn't seem to justify her treatment of such a loyal friend. Conversely I wanted Dimple to wake up and smell the coffee. It astounded me how she let Gwyn walk all over her. If she did get frustrated she stuffed it down deep and went right back to basking in the glow that was Gwyn. Dimple was clearly partly to blame for Gwyn's treatment of her. Although Karsh was wonderful I was a wee bit disappointed that the story was set up so that Dimple's happiness hinged on &quot;getting her man.&quot; That's not to say she didn't grow by leaps and bounds in other ways, but giving another person so much power over her happiness seemed to defeat the purpose. My final pet peeve was two-fold: the frequent use of non-English words that were  not explained or made clear by the context they were used in, and the tremendous amount of typos. One can only hope the typos are restricted to the ebook and not the print version. Plus, this is an advance release copy, so hopefully all the typographical errors will be cleaned up before the release of the final product. Overall Impression: A wonderful, meaningful story about coming to terms with growing up. The fact that the lessons weren't restricted to just one age group or ethnicity was a very nice bonus, as it helped demonstrate that we all struggle with many of the same issues. They may not be exactly the same, but odds of finding someone who isn't going through the same thing, or went through it, are slim to none. There are some sections where Ms. Tanuja Desai Hidier crafted some remarkable phrases, creating absolutely vivid images that made the entire book come to life. One such example is as follows - <blockquote>History wasn't that easy a thing to learn, seemed to be what I was learning. It wasn't a static story about dead people. It was a revolving door fraught with ghosts still straining to tell their version and turn your head, multifaceted and blinding as a cut diamond.</blockquote> All in all I found this to be a great teaching book, without feeling like you are being preached to or deliberately taught any lessons. I would certainly recommend this book for high school libraries (not middle school due to some discussions about sex, as well as underage drinking and an incident of drug use).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Come on
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I gtgtb. Goodnight. =_=
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hahaa good name!
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Dovetail padded into the den, her thick fur hung at her skinny form raggedly. She sighed and sat away from "everyone hates me" she muttered looking at her paws.
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I gtg. See you later.
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Slow at first, but started picking up in the middle. Really didn't care for white girl friend, Gwyn, of (main character) Dimple. She wasn't really a friend, because she was always trying to make herself look better than Dimple. She knew that Dimple and her parents wanted to marry her off to Karsh and she knowingly tried to steal him away from her. She tried by "becoming" Indian. Sorry, you are what you are. There is no way of changing your ethnicity. I didn't like Gwyn for thar reason alone! Dimple was lucky to be born Indian and with very loving and close family. Gwyn wasn't. She was trying to be something she wasn't!! Not to sound racist, but white people don't understand what it is to have culture and traditions. To be bring something from another country and continue those customs here in America!! No, I am not Asian nor am I white, but I am second generation here and I will continue to raise my family wirh knowing their ancestry, customs and traditons. To never let them forget what our family did to make it here to America!