I ardently believe that the YA genre could definitely use a little more diversity. While the diversity of characters has definitely increased in the past few years, I feel that as a whole, the genre has lots of work to do. Identity is something that every single teen struggles with – the fact that Tanuja Hidier addresses cultural identity in such a unique way is something to be lauded.
Born Confused is the story of seventeen-year-old Dimple Lala. Yes, that’s her real name. And no, that’s not the only thing that’s different about her. We’ve all felt what it’s like being the “uglier” of two, feeling like an ugly duckling. Well, this is how Dimple feels when she’s with her best friend Gwyn. Gwyn, the beautiful blonde. Dimple, the heavier Indian. Not only does Dimple struggle with who she is as an ABCD (American Born Confused Desi), but she must also figure out her love life (yup, there’s a guy!), while coming to terms with her true passions.
To be honest, I think Born Confused is really easy to relate to. The fact that Dimple struggles with her weight, her identity, AND her love life, among others, is commendable. Her struggles speak of her multi-layered personality. Dimple’s real. She’s a real teen. And while at times Dimple struggles with being honest to herself, her friends, and her parents, by the end of the story, she has definitely matured. I love how much she learns through the course of the novel and how she realizes that she doesn’t have to be a “typical” American.
I love how Tanuja Hidier approaches the book. Born Confused is incredibly funny and a little far-fetched. While I can’t imagine certain things happening to a person in real life, I just love all of the laugh-out-loud moments in Born Confused. Honestly, there were some times that I was weirded out, but at the end of the day, I found everything incredibly funny.
All this being said, though, there were definitely things I didn’t like about Born Confused. There were definitely times I felt incredibly annoyed with Dimple. I wanted her to speak up for herself, make up her mind, and get a backbone. Many people throughout the novel treat Dimple badly, and I was upset at Dimple’s inability to defend herself. Additionally, at times I felt Dimple was incredibly immature. I don’t know why I got annoyed to this extent, but I did.
However, Born Confused > annoyance you may possibly receive. So I promise you will <3 this book. (Hey, I can’t give up on the inequalities just yet!)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Publisher: Scholastic (July 1st, 2003)
Length: 512 pages (Paperback)