Reviews for Mira in the Present Tense

Booklist Reviews 2013 September #1
Originally published in the UK as Artichoke Hearts, this book tells the story of Mira Levenson, half Jewish and half Indian, who is trying to make sense of her changing life. Mira's period starts on her twelfth birthday, a fact she is reluctant to reveal to either her mother or her best friend. In fact, she finds herself becoming more secretive in general. A crush blossoms into a first romance, which she also tries to hide. Mira keeps a diary for her writing class, and there she is completely honest, particularly about her beloved Nana Josie, who is "busy dying at the moment." As she helps her Nana paint her casket, say good-bye to beloved places, and eventually move into a hospice, Mira notices how "the whole of life is in slow motion." This is a gentle coming-of-age story built around a heartbreaking event. Mira, a compelling narrator with an artist's eye for detail, benefits from a lifetime surrounded by people who love her. Her story resonates with truth (despite the secrets) and joy (despite the sorrow.) Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
Mira narrates her story through a diary she receives for her twelfth birthday. She lives in London, is half Jewish and one-quarter Indian, and has joined a writing club at school. A few too many events and characters crowd the otherwise engaging story, which focuses on Mira's loving relationship with her Nana Josie, who is dying from cancer.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 July #2
Puberty, first love and a grandparent's death figure in this gentle coming-of-age debut from the U.K., winner of Waterstone's Children's Book Prize in 2011. On her busy 12th birthday, Mira, a budding artist of Indian-Jewish heritage, gets her first period, dreams about the Rwandan boy in her writing class and agrees to help her ailing Nana Josie paint her coffin. Among her presents is a diary in which she'll record her next five weeks. Like Judy Blume's Margaret, Mira desires and fears growing up, but there the two part ways. Grappling with life's big questions, Margaret finds adult answers unsatisfactory, conflicting and contradictory; disillusioned, she'll find her own. Mira's journey is less stressful than reflective, studded with mature insights and wry reflection as she absorbs life lessons from her elders, especially Nana Josie, who, having lived a full life, now orchestrates her approaching death. (Movingly portrayed in realistic detail, her looming death and Mira's sorrow are the novel's strong suit.) Title notwithstanding, Mira's passivity and the largely conflict-free plot are distancing. Because readers first learn that Mira's bullied two pages before she fights back, her triumph has little impact. Growing up, like birth and like death, involves struggle, but Mira's largely spared its messy, painful side; this is adolescence as adults would like it to be, not as children live it. (Fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 August #1

Originally published as Artichoke Hearts in the U.K., where it won the Waterstone's Children's Book Award in 2011, Brahmachari's debut novel is worth the heartache it provokes. Londoner Mira Levenson, who's of Indian and Jewish descent, gets her first period on her 12th birthday, the same day that her grandmother's coffin shows up at the door; they plan to decorate it before Nana's imminent death from cancer. Mira is generally introspective and bashful, but the instructor at a writing workshop encourages Mira to shed her self-consciousness and speak boldly. To Mira's surprise, she has plenty to say--about her fellow writer and romantic interest Jidé, who narrowly escaped death in Rwanda; about her best friend Millie, whom she no longer confides in; and about her caring but often overwhelming family. Readers will enjoy watching Mira gather strength through writing in her diary and confronting her fears. While the story deals with the heaviness and "necessary heartbreak" of losing a close relative, Mira's energetic voice reminds readers that inspiration and hope can be found in the everyday. Ages 9-13. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 October

Gr 6-8--Mira's year seven is a time of discovery and growth during which she experiences first love and first loss. Pat Print, author and children's book reviewer, comes to the 12-year-old's London school to conduct a writing workshop and to learn more about young people's reading habits. Mira is excited to keep a journal as Pat asks since she has just received a diary as a birthday present. Nana Josie, who is ill, gives her a special bracelet charm, not just for her birthday but to pass along a piece of family history. The Levensons are all artistic, but it is Mira who helps Nana paint beautiful images on her plain white coffin. Nana's pain grows more constant as cancer continues to take her energy and, ultimately, her life. The decorated casket helps friends and family of Mira's much-loved paternal grandmother recall the things of this world that Josie enjoyed and loved, evoked and celebrated. Through writing, experience, and developing friendships, Mira comes to know her classmates and her own strength as never before. Her infatuation with Jidé, orphaned in Rwanda, grows into first love through shared grief, hope, and mutual respect. The story is told in Mira's voice, and readers will be affected by her growing awareness and sophisticated, often philosophical musings about religion, family, and growing up, and observations generated by her East Indian and British background. Characters, including adults, have complex emotions. Although pacing is a bit slow at times, the novel's emotional intensity and honesty are likely to propel readers to the satisfying, if not entirely happy, resolution.--Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library

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VOYA Reviews 2013 October
Mira's family is a tad unconventional, but she mostly loves the noise and confusion that is the typical school morning routine. Most of all, Mira loves her Nana Josie, an artist and free spirit. As Nana Josie's health worsens due to a recurrence of cancer, Mira must find someone else in whom to confide--not her mother, who is preoccupied with Mira's little sister, or her father, who is focused on the declining health of Nana Josie. Maybe her new before-school writing group will provide the support and encouragement Mira needs to stand up for herself and face the loss of her beloved grandmother Brahmachari draws readers into the chaotic family life of a close-knit extended family while also providing some real insight into Mira's thoughts and feelings about each and every person through dialogue, description, and interactions. Her deft touch as Mira watches her grandmother's gradual, and then swift, decline keeps the book from becoming maudlin. It is Mira's awakening as a young woman, artist, and writer that welcomes readers into the novel. The real and sometimes raw emotions will ring true for readers.--Teri S. Lesesne 5Q 3P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.