Monday 11 February 2013

Om Shanti, Babe

Om Shanti, Babe by Helen Limon (Walker Books)
PB RRP $ 16.95
ISBN 9781847803573
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Helen Limon was the winner of the 2011 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award. This award ‘celebrates cultural diversity either in terms of its story or the ethnic and cultural origins of its author’. And the storyline is full of a variety of sub-stories that are emotionally rich and interesting like the culture they depict.

Cass and her mum Lula have set off for India. All that Cass knows about that country is what she’s learnt from the Bollywood films she watches to improve her dance moves.

But on their arrival, nothing is as Cass had planned. The time she’d hoped to have alone doing things with her mother is snatched from her by business dealings, phone calls, and secret meetings with Vikram, her mother’s Indian associate and more than close friend.

But Cass doesn’t know about the collapse of their business. Her mother has kept many things from her, for Cass struggles with her father’s leaving, her guilt about her breakup with her friend Rachel, her loneliness, and the way she sees the world around her in general.

As always, things are not as they first appear to be. India proves to have a great influence on Cass, but only after she has met Dev and his deaf, dancing sister Nandita. Her blossoming friendship with the gifted and creative Priyanka shifts her view on life and her abilities. This gives birth to new ideas for saving the business, and an environmental conscience to fight for the mangrove swamps that developers plan to clear away to create a Hotel complex at great cost to the locals.

This is an interesting book which addresses a lot of issues. Perhaps too many, but they have been linked together fluidly to create a rich and interesting storyline.

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