Rummanah Aasi

  Welcome to The Reel Shelf, a new weekly feature here at Books in the Spotlight where I imagine what's on my favorite TV/Movie character's book shelves. When I watched Bend It Like Beckham for the first time I loved it immediately. The movie did such a great job in showcasing the traditional Indian culture, along with a strong and diverse cast, and a comedy that I think everyone can relate to one some level regardless of their own backgrounds.

Anyone can cook aloo gobi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham?  Image and quote from

  Today I'm featuring the protagonist of Bend It Like Beckham, Jesminder "Jess" Kaur Bhamra. Jess comes from a traditional Sikh family who lives in England. She's loves football (aka soccer) with a passion and has absolutely no desire to stay and learn how to cook. Jess walks the thin line between modernity and traditions that I often find myself walking on too. You really can't help but root for her. On Jess's bookshelves you will find a wide assortment of sport books featuring a female athlete. You will also find books that explore the different aspects of the Southeast Asian culture. Please note all the book descriptions are from Goodreads and/or from the book's panels.

Catching Jordan by Miranda Keneally 

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though--she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.  But everything she's ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he's also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan's feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart's on the line?

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier

Dimple Lala doesn't know what to think. Her parents are from India, and she's spent her whole life resisting their traditions. Then suddenly she gets to high school and everything Indian is trendy. To make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a "suitable boy." Of course it doesn't go well -- until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web . Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue. This is a funny, thoughtful story about finding your heart, finding your culture, and finding your place in America.

Girl Got Game by Shizuru Seino

   Kyo Aizawa is very excited about getting to attend Seisyu Academy, which is famous for its adorable girls' uniforms. Her spirits are crushed, however, when she opens the package containing her school uniform to find a boy's uniform. Her father explains to her that, as Seisyu Academy is also famous for its boys' basketball program, he enrolled her as a boy so she can fulfill his own dream of becoming an NBA basketball star. 
   When she gets to the school, she has to try out for the team. At tryouts, she sees a handsome boy who is an amazing athlete and wonderful at basketball. However, when she meets him, all he does is make fun of her height and acts like a jerk. It is bad enough to have to act as a boy, but to make matters worse, her roommate is the same boy she came to hate at tryouts.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling, best-known as a writer-actress on the American version of The Office, traces her path from sensitive, chubby, Indian girl to woman-about-town in TV's comedy scene in observant, bracingly hilarious, and surprisingly poignant essays and lists.

Hooked by Liz Fichera

When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done. 
  Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred, but there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile.

Motherland by Vineeta Vijayaraghavan

Born in Kerala, Maya spent the first four years of her life there, cared for mainly by her grandmother, Ammamma, until she was sent to live with her parents in New York. At 15, with her parents' marriage undergoing a rough patch, she is sent back to India to stay with her Aunt Reema and Uncle Sanjay, their 10-year-old daughter, Brindha, and Ammamma at their house in the tea hills above Coimbatore. It's been years since Maya came to visit, and this time she is keenly aware of cultural differences: the different spheres of men and women and the persistence of the caste system. She feels stifled by the attentions of Ammamma and resentful of the time she must spend with the old woman. When Maya suffers an accident while most of the family is away, she and Ammamma grow closer, and Maya learns a hidden family fact. But only when Ammamma falls ill and the entire family gathers, including Maya's parents from New York, does Maya begin to comprehend more deeply the complexities of relationships.

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbet Murdock

After spending her summer running the family farm and training the quarterback for her school's rival football team, sixteen-year-old D.J. decides to go out for the sport herself, not anticipating the reactions of those around her.

Oleander Girl by Chitra Divakaruni

Orphaned at birth, seventeen-year-old Korobi Roy is the scion of a distinguished Kolkata family and has enjoyed a privileged, sheltered childhood with her adoring grandparents. But she is troubled by the silence that surrounds her parents’ death and clings fiercely to her only inheritance from them: the love note she found hidden in her mother's book of poetry. Korobi dreams of one day finding a love as powerful as her parents', and it seems her wish has come true when she meets the charming Rajat, the only son of a high-profile business family.   But shortly after their engagement, a heart attack kills Korobi's grandfather, revealing serious financial problems and a devastating secret about Korobi's past. Shattered by this discovery and by her grandparents' betrayal, Korobi undertakes a courageous search across post 9/11 America to find her true identity. Her dramatic, often startling journey will, ultimately, thrust her into the most difficult decision of her life.

First Crossing: Stories About Teen Immigrants by Donald R. Gallo

Fleeing from political violence in Venezuela, Amina and her family have settled in the United States. Sarah, adopted, is desperate to know her Korean birth parents. Adrian’s friends have some spooky — and hilarious — misconceptions about his Romanian origins. Whether their transition is from Mexico to the United States or from Palestine to New Mexico, the characters in this anthology have all ventured far and have faced countless challenges. Each of these stories is unique, and each one has something to say to all of us.

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane

Molly Williams has had a difficult time. Her father died in a car accident; her mother has withdrawn into herself. Molly, however, wants to be known for something positive -- like joining the boys' baseball team. Over the course of a baseball season she learns to redefine her relationships with family, friends, and the things she loves.
Karma by Cathy Ostlere

On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi is gunned down by two Sikh bodyguards. The murder sparks riots in Delhi and for three days Sikh families are targeted and killed in retribution for the Prime Minister’s death. It is into this chaos that sixteen-year-old Maya and her Sikh father, Amar, arrive from their home in Canada. India’s political instability is the backdrop and catalyst for Maya’s awakening to the world.
10 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Such a good movie! I can't even count then number of times I've watched it:) And I really enjoyed Catching Jordan, have you read that Rummanah! I don't read many contemporary YA books but I think I need to after that one:)

  2. I was just thinking that Dairy Queen would be fitting. I tried reading Born Confused years ago but couldn't get into it. I should try it again. Motherland sounds very good.
    Just goes to show that I'm nothing like Jess, because all I could think of when I saw your bolded question was how much I wanted to cook aloo gobi :-) Although I don't really like cauliflower. Maybe I'll make bangan bartha for dinner or chana masala. Both of those are amongst my favorites. Do you like cooking?

  3. Jenny: Not yet, but I'm on the blog tour for it. It looks incredibly cute and if you liked it, then I'm really excited to read it!

    Alison: I like to cook, but I'm very bad at it. I'm just a newbie. :)

  4. Omg! Rummanah! I love you already. I just followed you here from Missie's blog and what do I see? "Born Confused" is a book I've been trying to remember the title of for as long as I can remember. I picked it off my library's bookshelf a few years ago and added it to my pile. On checking out, I distinctly remember the book being at the counter but I'm not sure what happened to it after that. I think the librarian thought it was a returned book so he put it on the shelf behind him instead of checking it out. When I got home and realised the book wasn't in my book bag, I was so disappointed, especially since I only remembered the description and not the title. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am most certainly going to request this book by title the next time I visit the library:)

  5. I love Jess! She was a great character. And I have no doubt that those books would be at the very top of her TBR.

  6. Nat Says:

    This is such a neat feature. It really showcases your knowledge of books!

  7. Lauren M Says:

    I've never watched Bend it Like Beckham (I was fairly young when it came out, or at least younger than its PG13 rating, haha), but I really want to! It sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for the recommendations! :)

  8. IdentitySeeker: I do hope you check out the book soon. It's a great read!

    Missie: Thank you. This was probably the easiest list I made.

    Kelli: Thanks so much! It helps with both of my addictions. :)

    Lauren: You have to watch this movie. It is AWESOME!

  9. I adore Bend it Like Beckham, and Jes was my favourite character by far - speaking of which, Born Confused was an awesome book! This is such a brilliant feature, Rumannah! I love it :)

  10. Oh, I loved Bend it like Beckham. It's been so long since I've seen it, but I just loved the feeling of it.

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

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