What I Meant
I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is What I Meant by Marie Lamba.
What does it mean to a young girl to never find herself in the pages of a book? What would it be like to read a childhood’s worth of fairy tales and the only dark haired characters have ‘The Evil’ in front of their names? And if you were dark skinned? You might as well have been from another planet. Snow White may have had black hair, but the girl had White right there in her name!
Most of the fairy tales we grew up with and of course here I am speaking of the dark ages of the 1960s and 70s had their roots in Eastern Europe. So it may not have been an intentional snub to those who weren’t blonde and blue-eyed. (In the interest of full disclosure: As a child I had blonde hair and blue eyes, however I was a famous weirdo and related only to space robots and elves.) But we don’t live in thatched huts in the Black Forest anymore, stepmothers these days are sometimes not evil, and witches now prefer to be called Pagan-Americans.
On the other hand, changelessly, girls will look to fiction for a mirror. What they see looking back at them can help them decide whether they’re the heroine, the victim, the villain, or simply left out of the story.
Young adult author Marie Lamba heads a biracial household and keenly understands the desire of girls to be included. What I Meant is the story of Indian-American teen Sangeet, caught between fitting in with her peers, flirting with the boys, being with her friends, and her tradition-minded father who can’t understand where this ill-behaved monster came from, and what she’s done with his good daughter. Add her simply hideous aunt, the conniving Chachi, and her mother who seems to have had some teen drama of her own and Sang is forced to figure out what role she wants to play in her family and in her own life: victim, villain, or heroine.
Marie also has a busy website with a listing of her many appearances at schools and libraries. She also talks about the importance of supporting your local independent bookstore, without which many new authors would never see shelfspace. So go to Amazon (or this website) for your ‘name’ purchases, but don’t forget to drop by the locally owned shop down the street (or this website) to pick up a copy of someone new.