For me, this was the strange experience of life imitating art. I sent the book to Nina, and she called me up to say that I had no idea how perfectly I had captured that experience—and that there are so many kids out there, experiencing exactly this—their lives in limbo, their situation invisible. Indeed, she sent the book to those girls who were eventually deported to Bangladesh—the younger sister, especially, who is very Americanized, has been really having a hard time of it.
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What were the challenges research, literary, psychological, and logistical in bringing it to life? I think the greatest challenge was making sure I had the balance between the political and social pressures and the family dynamics.
ASK ME NO QUESTIONS
I also wanted the characters to be recognizable to an American audience—and potentially an audience outside the States, too. Certainly I wanted to be very specific to this culture—I had chosen Bangladesh as opposed to other potential cultures because I had lived in Calcutta, which is in West Bengal, and also visited Bangladesh, so I felt comfortable with Bengali culture.
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At the same time, I wanted these characters to be kids that we all could know: the know-it-all, high achieving older sister and the left-in-the-shadows younger sister. I had to force myself to get more inside her character and understand how she would be the one who would crumble.
That took up a lot of my revision time.
While all of my work seems to carry a certain non-fiction element my next young adult novel as well I try not to over-research. I try to go with my gut and artistic intuition, and then use the research as I need to. With respect to the immigration details, I did interview an immigration lawyer. I also had the manuscript vetted by a Bangladeshi friend, who is also an activist around issues such as this, and was familiar with what was going on in the community at the time.
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We don't". It is, in fact, Aisha's own self-destruction that motivates Nadira to be more proactive, and this surge of activity unearths the information necessary to help get her father out of jail. Budhos has composed a compelling and thought-provoking contemporary examination of the human side of the law; further, in illustrating the secret burden that Nadira and Aisha carry with them to school each day as they pretend that nothing is the matter, she reminds readers to think differently about the people around them.
Sure to elicit discussion, this novel would work very well for a teen book club selection. An endnote is included.
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