Happy Monday, guys!
We're kicking off the week with the highly entertaining Mission Mumbai. Two best friends go to Mumbai for a family wedding, and have unexpected adventures that will have you laughing, grimacing and enjoying this spirited tale....
MMGM is a feature hosted by the fabulous Shannon Messenger on her blog every week!
Expected publication: March 29th 2016 by Scholastic Press
Format read: ARC via publisher
Mahtab Narsimhan has created two enjoy heroes in Dylan and Rohit, who will likely form a strong kingship with readers as they explore their family problems and highs-and-lows of their friendship, especially with the added challenges of being in a foreign country and a family wedding.
When aspiring photographer Dylan Moore is invited to join his best friend, Rohit Lal, on a family trip to India, he jumps at the chance to embark on an exciting journey just like their Lord of the Rings heroes, Frodo and Sam. But each boy comes to the trip with a problem: Rohit is desperate to convince his parents not to leave him behind in Mumbai to finish school, and Dylan is desperate to stay in India to prove himself as a photographer and to avoid his parents' constant fighting. Keeping their struggles to themselves threatens to tear the boys apart. But when disaster strikes, Dylan and Rohit realize they have to set aside their differences to navigate India safely, confront their family issues, and salvage their friendship.
Mahtab Narsimhan introduces us to Dylan, who initially comes off as a typical westerner in a foreign country. He's on vacation with his friend Rohit and Rohit's mother, and is overly fascinated with the sights and sounds of the sprawling city. This is to the great irritation of Rohit, who would much rather be back home in New York City.
However, we quickly learn that the boys each have their own reasons for wanting to be far away from their homes and/or respective responsibilities, and it's the journey to understanding how to face those reasons head-on that will help pull readers into this engaging tale...
I'll be honest: when I first read the synopsis for Mission Mumbai, I made the assumption that this would likely be another tale about a western teen who learns to appreciate life while he's abroad. However, Narsimhan proved me wrong, as this story quickly evolved into a joint tale on two young boys who are taking advantage of their time abroad, to push themselves into facing fears and standing up for who they want to be.
As the protagonist, the book centers around Dylan, who is hoping to use his time in Mumbai to justify his photography interests to an ever-demanding father. Though he's optimistic and eager in this new environment - traits that will likely be appreciated by many a reader, including parents who are trying to encourage new interests - Narsimhan does a nice job of emphasizing the underlying pressure that Dylan feels, as he seeks out opportunities that will take a picture that will justify his talent and thereby, his worth.
It's a pressure that becomes even more pronounced, when best friend Rohit begins to ask Dylan to return home early. They're in Mumbai to attend the wedding of Rohit's cousin, but with that wedding, comes exposure to family members and financial obligations that Rohit would rather forget. Though Dylan is initially very taken with Rohit's family (while Rohit repeatedly counters that Dylan's family is far better), Narsimhan makes it a point to emphasize that for both boys, the grass will always seem greener on the opposite side. It's how we choose to face the realities of our own situations, that will help define us and grow.
Outside of Dylan and Rohit's core journeys, Narsimhan sprinkles in a nice, healthy look at the realities of modern-day life in Mumbai and surrounding locations. While Narsimhan is candid about both the city's highlights and shortcomings - a subplot involving individuals who are living rough made me tear up a bit - she also gently reminds on the importance of finding the beauty and appreciation in each small moment, a challenge that Dylan lives up to admirably.
Though the book ends exactly how one hopes it will end, it's a colorful, enriching journey that had me cheering every moment of the wya.
Highly recommend - this is a spirited, likable book that will be appreciated by many a reader.
About the author:
Mahtab Narsimhan is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including the Silver Birch Award winner The Third Eye. Her novel, The Tiffin (Dancing Cat Books, 2011), was nominated for numerous awards in Canada and was recently published in the United Kingdom and Taiwan. Mission Mumbai is her publishing debut in the United States. Mahtab is a native of Mumbai, India, and lives in Toronto, Canada. Visit her online at www.mahtabnarsimhan.com.