{Story Diary} American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar | Blog Tour

Mar 8, 2021

american betiya blog tour

Hi, friends and book lovers alike! Welcome to our stop on the American Betiya blog tour here on EK today, organized by Lonely Pages Book Tours! I am so excited to share my story diary feature for American Betiya, which releases tomorrow! This story is heartrending and unforgettable - I enjoyed it and hope you will too! Thanks goes to Lonely Pages Book Tours for having me on the tour and to Knopf for providing an advanced review copy. Be sure to check out all the blogger's posts on the tour for incredible content and ownvoices reviews, and read an excerpt here!

american betiya
American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar
Young Adult Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
March 9, 2021 from Knopf / Penguin Random House

Fans of Sandhya Menon, Erika Sanchez and Jandy Nelson will identify with this powerful story of a young artist grappling with first love, family boundaries, and the complications of a cross-cultural relationship. 

Rani Kelkar has never lied to her parents, until she meets Oliver. The same qualities that draw her in--his tattoos, his charisma, his passion for art--make him her mother's worst nightmare. 

They begin dating in secret, but when Oliver's troubled home life unravels, he starts to ask more of Rani than she knows how to give, desperately trying to fit into her world, no matter how high the cost. When a twist of fate leads Rani from Evanston, Illinois to Pune, India for a summer, she has a reckoning with herself--and what's really brewing beneath the surface of her first love. 

Winner of the SCBWI Emerging Voices award, Anuradha Rajurkar takes an honest look at the ways cultures can clash in an interracial relationship. Braiding together themes of sexuality, artistic expression, and appropriation, she gives voice to a girl claiming ownership of her identity, one shattered stereotype at a time.

Settings / Places

Evanston, Illinois

[Image Source]

Pune, India

[Image Source]

[Image Source]

Indian Public Figures

[Amrita Sher-Gil | Image Source]

Amrita Sher-gil was a Hungarian-Indian modernist painter, one of her most notable works "Group of Young Girls" won the Bombay Art Society gold medal in 1937. Learn more about Amrita and see her beautiful artworks here.

Indian Culture + Celebrations

(but not exclusive or limited to Indian)

Rani's Indian heritage is a huge and integral part of her life and the story, and some are celebrated throughout the book.

Daily blessing

According to beliefnet.com:

When Hindus wake up in the morning, they pray to God, seeking blessings for the day. 

The front part of the hands (the finger tips) are ascribed to Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, the middle part (the palm proper) to Goddess Saraswati - the Goddess of learning and the root (the part of of hand near the wrist) to Govinda (God). Therefore, every morning, one should have a respectful look at one's hand which symbolizes honest labor. 

"O! Mother Earth, who has the ocean as clothes and mountains and forests on her body, who is the wife of Lord Vishnu, I bow to you. Please forgive me for touching you with my feet."

Daily Puja

According to rudraksha-ratna.com:

Puja means "worship" or "reverence of the Divine." Most of the Vedic scriptures and epics including the Vedas, Upanishad, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and more emphasize the significance of performing daily puja at home. Pujas such as Rudra Abhishek, Satyanarayan Puja, Diwali Puja, Vastu Puja and other are performed on specific days and events only few times every year. Many devotees often perform a small daily Puja before leaving home for daily blessings of the Divine, Sattvik living and positivity. Devotees mostly offer Deity Pujas either to their favorite Deity Ishta Devta or to a specific Deity for a specific purpose.

According to baps.org:

Nitya Puja, or daily puja, is a prayer ritual performed every morning by Hindu devotees. A devotee can communicate with God during daily puja and convey one’s concerns and feelings directly to God. Puja helps an individual concentrate on the divine murti of God and His gunatit sadhu. It helps to calm the mind and quiet its many thoughts.


Diwali is a festival of lights that is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains across South Asia and all over the world, and is celebrated in unique ways to various cultures. The name is derived from Sanskrit dipivali, meaning "row of lights." The festival occurs over the course of five days during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika (typically between mid-October to mid-November but varies every year), and there are different traditions for each day of Diwali. According to blogger of Maple and Marigold, Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, says the essence of the festival remains the same no matter where you live and that "Diwali is about celebrating life, all of its goodness, and the triumph of hope and light over darkness and despair."

Some resources about the history, traditions and more about Diwali: learnreligions.com, theculturetrip.com, britannica, National Geographic.

[Disclaimer: Information above were gathered from multiple resources on the internet and should be taken with a grain of salt or otherwise verified by those who personally observe these events themselves, as not everything on the internet is accurate despite being free. If I did share any inaccurate information, please feel free to let me know and I will correct it.]

Tropes / Themes

☾ Family dynamics
☾ Friendships
☾ Female empowerment
☾ Growth
☾ First love
☾ Self-discovery
☾ Cross-cultural
☾ Sex-positivity
☾ Artsy bad boy LI
☾ Forbidden secret relationship


☀ Indian American MC + SCs
☀ #ownvoices author

Content / Trigger Warnings

➤ Racism
➤ Drug usage/addiction
➤ Cultural fetishization
➤ Microaggression
➤ Abusive/toxic relationship
➤ Death of family member
➤ Grief
➤ Gaslighting
➤ Manipulation

american betiya aesthetic

"Just remember," she goes on, "your life belongs to you and you alone. Not some man's."

--Anuradha D. Rajurkar, American Betiya

"But there will always be angry people, betiya, as long as humans exist in the world. We mustn’t let them poison our minds."

--Anuradha D. Rajurkar, American Betiya

"The best masalas use spices slow-roasted over the flame . . . browned, even a little burned. We are like that, only we burn a little to attain the complex flavor. And that burning, the pain... one must not avoid such pain. It is part of a rich life."

--Anuradha D. Rajurkar, American Betiya

[Disclaimer: quotes are taken from an unedited advanced review copy and is subject to change in final publication.]


There's so much delicious Indian food mentioned and enjoyed in this book, and here's a few of them: 

Do not read this book on an empty stomach - you will ~probably~ get hungry.

anuradha d. rajurkar
Anuradha D. Rajurkar is the national recipient of the SCBWI Emerging Voices Award for her contemporary debut novel, American Betiya. Born and raised in the Chicago area to Indian immigrant parents, Anuradha earned two degrees from Northwestern University, and for many years had the joy of being a public school teacher by day, writer by night.

Nowadays, when she’s not writing or reading, you can find Anuradha exploring the shores of Lake Michigan with her family, obsessing over her garden, watching either happy TV like Queer Eye or old horror flicks with her son, cooking Indian food, or roguishly knitting sweaters without their patterns. She hopes her stories will inspire teens to embrace their unique identities and inner badass despite outside pressures and cultural expectations.

♥ Are y'all excited for American Betiya?
If you've already read it, let me know what you thought in the
comments and drop links to your posts! ♥

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  1. Wow, I absolutely LOVE this style of "reviewing"! You've included pretty much all aspects of the book and it's scene. It's awesome!

    1. Thank you, Sumedha! I'm grateful that you think so. That's what I go for in my story diary blog features - incorporate different aspects of the book so that readers get a small taste of what they can expect from the book and to help them decide whether or not to read it by including things they may enjoy such as quotes, aesthetics, playlists, maps, etc. It's really to reel readers in as much as it is a love letter to the books I've enjoyed.


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