Mira in the Present Tense

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Overview


Twelve-year-old Mira comes from a chaotic, artistic, and outspoken family in which it's not always easy to be heard. As her beloved Nana Josie's health declines, Mira begins to discover the secrets of those around her and also starts to keep some of her own. She is drawn to mysterious Jide, a boy who is clearly hiding a troubled past. As Mira is experiencing grief for the first time, she is also discovering the wondrous and often mystical world around her. An incredibly insightful, honest novel exploring the ...
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Mira in the Present Tense

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Overview


Twelve-year-old Mira comes from a chaotic, artistic, and outspoken family in which it's not always easy to be heard. As her beloved Nana Josie's health declines, Mira begins to discover the secrets of those around her and also starts to keep some of her own. She is drawn to mysterious Jide, a boy who is clearly hiding a troubled past. As Mira is experiencing grief for the first time, she is also discovering the wondrous and often mystical world around her. An incredibly insightful, honest novel exploring the delicate balance--and often injustice--of life and death. But at its heart, it's a celebration of friendship, culture--and life.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Originally published as Artichoke Hearts in the U.K., where it won the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Award in 2011, Brahmachari’s debut novel is worth the heartache it provokes. Londoner Mira Levenson, who’s of Indian and Jewish descent, gets her first period on her 12th birthday, the same day that her grandmother’s coffin shows up at the door; they plan to decorate it before Nana’s imminent death from cancer. Mira is generally introspective and bashful, but the instructor at a writing workshop encourages Mira to shed her self-consciousness and speak boldly. To Mira’s surprise, she has plenty to say—about her fellow writer and romantic interest Jidé, who narrowly escaped death in Rwanda; about her best friend Millie, whom she no longer confides in; and about her caring but often overwhelming family. Readers will enjoy watching Mira gather strength through writing in her diary and confronting her fears. While the story deals with the heaviness and “necessary heartbreak” of losing a close relative, Mira’s energetic voice reminds readers that inspiration and hope can be found in the everyday. Ages 9–13. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"This is a gentle coming-of-age story built around a heartbreaking event. Mira, a compelling narrator with an artist's eye for detail, benefits from a lifetime surrounded by people who love her. Her story resonates with truth (despite the secrets) and joy (despite the sorrow)." Booklist, September 1, 2013

"Puberty, first love and a grandparent's death figure in this gentle coming-of-age debut from the U.K., winner of Waterstone's Children's Book Prize in 2011." Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2013

"Readers will enjoy watching Mira gather strength through writing in her diary and confronting her fears." Publishers Weekly, August 2, 2013

VOYA - Teri S. Lesesne
Mira's family is a tad unconventional, but she mostly loves the noise and confusion that is the typical school morning routine. Most of all, Mira loves her Nana Josie, an artist and free spirit. As Nana Josie's health worsens due to a recurrence of cancer, Mira must find someone else in whom to confide—not her mother, who is preoccupied with Mira's little sister, or her father, who is focused on the declining health of Nana Josie. Maybe her new before-school writing group will provide the support and encouragement Mira needs to stand up for herself and face the loss of her beloved grandmother. Brahmachari draws readers into the chaotic family life of a close-knit extended family while also providing some real insight into Mira's thoughts and feelings about each and every person through dialogue, description, and interactions. Her deft touch as Mira watches her grandmother's gradual, and then swift, decline keeps the book from becoming maudlin. It is Mira's awakening as a young woman, artist, and writer that welcomes readers into the novel. The real and sometimes raw emotions will ring true for readers. Reviewer: Teri S. Lesesne
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Turning twelve is certainly a significant day for anyone, but on Mira’s 12th birthday, her whole world seems to shift. She starts her period. She gets her first grown-up watch. She gets a mobile phone. And her Nana’s white casket arrives at the house. The casket is white because Nana Josie wants to paint it herself before she dies, and she wants budding artist Mira to help her. Mira is half East Indian and half Jewish, has an annoying nine-year-old brother named Krish, who can run like the wind, and a toddler sister named Laila, who can screech like a banshee. Her parents are too protective, in her view. Her best friend Millie has been her confidante and her protection against the girl bullies at school. She has a crush on a cute boy, Jidé Jackson, who happens to be in the new writing group that meets before school. One of Mira’s assignments in the writing group is to keep a diary, and that is the format of the book. Mira only really begins to discover that Nana Josie has lived a much larger life than her small stature would suggest as she is visited by her friends saying their goodbyes. “Sometimes you just think of people as old and you don’t think about who they are or what they’ve done in their lives.” Along with the usual tween angst about boyfriends, best friends, parents, appearance, and bullies are some truly moving observations about losing someone you love--a “necessary heartbreak.” Mira also learns in a profound way that you cannot judge others by what you see on the surface. This would be a wonderful book for someone facing the loss of a family member since Nana Josie succeeds in her endeavor to “die well.” There is humor here as well as tears, and this is a real endorsement of eschewing protective layers in order to truly feel. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D. AGERANGE: Ages 11 to 14.
School Library Journal
10/01/2013
Gr 6–8—Mira's year seven is a time of discovery and growth during which she experiences first love and first loss. Pat Print, author and children's book reviewer, comes to the 12-year-old's London school to conduct a writing workshop and to learn more about young people's reading habits. Mira is excited to keep a journal as Pat asks since she has just received a diary as a birthday present. Nana Josie, who is ill, gives her a special bracelet charm, not just for her birthday but to pass along a piece of family history. The Levensons are all artistic, but it is Mira who helps Nana paint beautiful images on her plain white coffin. Nana's pain grows more constant as cancer continues to take her energy and, ultimately, her life. The decorated casket helps friends and family of Mira's much-loved paternal grandmother recall the things of this world that Josie enjoyed and loved, evoked and celebrated. Through writing, experience, and developing friendships, Mira comes to know her classmates and her own strength as never before. Her infatuation with Jidé, orphaned in Rwanda, grows into first love through shared grief, hope, and mutual respect. The story is told in Mira's voice, and readers will be affected by her growing awareness and sophisticated, often philosophical musings about religion, family, and growing up, and observations generated by her East Indian and British background. Characters, including adults, have complex emotions. Although pacing is a bit slow at times, the novel's emotional intensity and honesty are likely to propel readers to the satisfying, if not entirely happy, resolution.—Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Puberty, first love and a grandparent's death figure in this gentle coming-of-age debut from the U.K., winner of Waterstone's Children's Book Prize in 2011. On her busy 12th birthday, Mira, a budding artist of Indian-Jewish heritage, gets her first period, dreams about the Rwandan boy in her writing class and agrees to help her ailing Nana Josie paint her coffin. Among her presents is a diary in which she'll record her next five weeks. Like Judy Blume's Margaret, Mira desires and fears growing up, but there the two part ways. Grappling with life's big questions, Margaret finds adult answers unsatisfactory, conflicting and contradictory; disillusioned, she'll find her own. Mira's journey is less stressful than reflective, studded with mature insights and wry reflection as she absorbs life lessons from her elders, especially Nana Josie, who, having lived a full life, now orchestrates her approaching death. (Movingly portrayed in realistic detail, her looming death and Mira's sorrow are the novel's strong suit.) Title notwithstanding, Mira's passivity and the largely conflict-free plot are distancing. Because readers first learn that Mira's bullied two pages before she fights back, her triumph has little impact. Growing up, like birth and like death, involves struggle, but Mira's largely spared its messy, painful side; this is adolescence as adults would like it to be, not as children live it. (Fiction. 9-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807551493
  • Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
  • Publication date: 9/1/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 498,343
  • Age range: 9 - 13 Years
  • Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Sita Brahmachari was born in England to an Indian doctor form Kolkata and an English nurse from the Lake District. She lives and works in North London with her husband, three children, and a temperamental cat. This is her first novel. Her website is www.sitabrahmachari.com.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2014

    Mira in the present tense

    This is an awsome book about a girl, you should really read it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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