Good morning, friends! Happy Monday! It’s the beginning of a new week and I can’t think of a more wonderful way to kick things off than with a new, beautiful book cover!
Working with Anuradha Rajurkar over the last couple of weeks on this collaboration has been a pure joy and I’m so excited to finally be able to share the breathtaking cover for her 2021 #OwnVoices debut young adult novel, American Betiya, here with you today! Coming to a bookstore and library near you March 9th 2021 from Knopf Books for Young Readers, American Betiya has been described to me as “a contemporary novel about race, immigrant families, forbidden love, and exoticization” and promises to be one of my most-anticipated releases in 2021.
Please read on to learn more about American Betiya, including an exclusive cover reveal and a touching note from the author about the novel’s origins and what this special story means to her.
About Anuradha D. Rajurkar
Anuradha D. Rajurkar is the recipient of the national Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Emerging Voices Award for her contemporary YA novel, American Betiya (Knopf/Penguin Random House, March 9, 2021). Born and raised in the Chicago area to Indian immigrant parents, Anuradha earned two degrees from Northwestern University, and for years was a teacher by day, writer by night. When she’s not reading or crafting novels, you can find Anuradha exploring the shores of Lake Michigan with her family, obsessing over her latest garden or design project, cooking Indian food, or creating music with her son. Her sincere hope is that her stories inspire teens to embrace their unique identities despite outside pressures and expectations. Anuradha lives in the Midwest with her husband and two sons. Anuradha is represented by Alex Slater of Trident Media Group.
Years ago, I set out to write the kind of story I’d wished for as a teen: one that explores forbidden interracial love in all its beauty and honest complications, one that features an ambitious Indian American teenager and her first-generation immigrant family…one that would feel fierce and unvarnished. After some tinkering, self-doubt, and false starts, I wrote a short story whose title was simply “Beginnings.”
“Beginnings” would be the story that, thanks in part to the encouragement of my writing group, was a true beginning: I’d flesh it out over the span of many years into what is now my debut, American Betiya (pronounced BAY-tee-uh, meaning “daughter” or “darling” in Hindi). A contemporary story about an 18-year-old named Rani and her artistic, passionate boyfriend, Oliver, American Betiya conveys the desperate desire to escape into your beloved’s world and culture, no matter the cost. What follows are heady highs, cultural misunderstandings, betrayal, the triggering of generational trauma, and the powerful emergence of identity. Further complexities arise within Rani’s new relationship and her old-world traditional Indian family as the two become inextricably linked…
American Betiya is a work of fiction that draws upon my own personal experiences, research and observations. In creating Rani and Oliver’s world, I learned what happens when cultures collide in one feverish first love, why we sometimes feel the need to distance ourselves from our cultures, and how the longing to be loved and seen might overshadow instincts. Writing this book helped me understand how we may uphold our cultural identities despite the stereotypes and emotional violence that come with routinely being seen as “other” — even by the ones we love.
American Betiya is the raw, evocative, swoony, soulful, empowering book of my heart, and I can’t wait to share it with you!
Cover design by Angela Carlino, Cover art by Saqiba Suleman, Edited by Katherine Harrison
Title American Betiya
Author Anuradha D. Rajurkar
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Publication Date March 9th 2021 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Find It On Underlined ● Goodreads ● Amazon ● Chapters ● Barnes & Noble ● IndieBound
Fans of Sandhya Menon, Erika Sanchez, and Jandy Nelson will identify with this award-winning novel of a young artist’s forbidden, interracial first love, her close-knit Indian family, and her boyfriend’s desperate attempts to fit into it — even if it means betrayal.
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 a torrid, secret love affair, but when Oliver’s troubled home life unravels, he starts to ask more of Rani than she knows how to give. Just when their relationship is tested by a shocking betrayal, a family tragedy draws Rani to India for the summer. There, she gains perspective on what it means to be true to herself, and what that means for her and Oliver.
Winner of the national Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Emerging Voices Award, Anuradha Rajurkar takes an honest look at how cultural differences can transmute an interracial relationship into something unrecognizable as love. Rani’s journey will speak to anyone who’s ever had to fight to uphold their cultural identity — one stereotype at a time.