Good News for the New Year!

Good News for the New Year!

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you enjoyed saying goodbye to the highly troublesome 2020 and found special ways to welcome in 2021! Hoping this year will be filled with so much beauty, compassion, and brighter days.


In the spirit of that, on January 1st, Kirkus published its review of AMERICAN BETIYA!


Honestly, I’m so glad I didn’t know that Kirkus Reviews is known to be not so easy to please, and that a strong review from them is a precious thing indeed—many librarians, booksellers, and teachers look to Kirkus when deciding which books to stock. I would have stressed out and made myself nuts waiting for their verdict, but was joyfully surprised instead. Check it out below!


An interracial teen romance that unflinchingly tackles racism and patriarchy.






When Indian American 18-year-old Rani catches tattooed art student Oliver checking her out, she thinks she must be imagining it; boys haven’t been romantically interested in her.

Even though Rani’s traditional Indian immigrant parents have made it clear that she is not allowed to date, when Oliver, a White boy, asks her out, she says yes, launching herself into what feels like a perfect high school romance. Even Rani’s cynical best friend, Kate, approves of the relationship—an endorsement that helps Rani convince herself that sneaking around with Oliver is worth it. But as the two grow closer, and as Oliver’s troubled family life spirals out of control, he begins to ask more from Rani than she is able to give and to exhibit troublingly racist attitudes and behaviors that Rani finds increasingly difficult to ignore. Eventually, she finds herself struggling to balance the demands of Oliver and her parents, all the while trying to be true to herself. Rani demonstrates greater awareness of intersectionality in a U.S. context than she does of her status in regard to her family's high-caste Hindu identity, perhaps reflecting her upbringing within a tight immigrant social circle. Rani and Oliver’s passion is well written, and Rani’s spirited and honest voice authentically leads readers through the challenges and thrills of an interracial and cross-cultural teen romance. This heartbreaking love story is a strong debut and an entertaining read.

An interracial teen romance that unflinchingly tackles racism and patriarchy. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984897-15-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today


Pre-order your copy here:


It's been incredibly humbling to have people begin reading AMERICAN BETIYA, and then leaving gorgeous reviews of it on NetGalley and Goodreads. Those reviews are just as awe-inspiring and meaningful to me as this one by Kirkus, because they reflect the voices of my readers. This is me trying not to cry after reading a particular special review:)


Wishing you so much joy and love in the new year, 


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Diane Berry Jakubowski January 11 2021

What a timely topic, with romance too! Exciting to see this solid review.