Born Confused

BornConfusedBorn Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
Published: 10-1-02 by Scholastic Press
Get the book: Amazon, Book Depository

Dimple Lala doesn’t know what to think. She’s spent her whole life resisting her parents’ traditions. But now she’s turning seventeen and things are more complicated than ever. She’s still recovering from a year-old break-up and her best friend isn’t around the way she used to be. Then, 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 of words and music. Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue.

This is a story about finding yourself, finding your friends, finding love, and finding your culture — sometimes where you least expect it.


Design –  ?     Rating – 3/5

This cover design is much better than the original version, which you can see on Goodreads. This one is more modern and the little details are better. The question mark being incorporated with Dimple’s bindi is great. I really love the title font because it’s easy to read but it has Indian flair in the serifs. I also like how the title is slanted instead of going straight across the cover. The bottom half of the cover is nice too, with what I’m guessing is the New York City skyline done in a nice pattern.

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Born Confused is a story about feeling like you live in 2 worlds but don’t really fit in completely in either one. Dimple’s struggling with being a teen and she’s stressed because she wants to feel like she belongs, but is straddling the gap between the culture she was born into and the culture she’s being raised in. Overall, I really like Born Confused, but some of the details of the story annoyed me. I also feel like there was a big knowledge gap because I don’t know a lot of the words Dimple uses to describe things from India.

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  • photography – When Dimple’s grandfather was alive, he and Dimple used photography to communicate with each other across continents and language barriers. Dimple’s photography hobby is a great way for her to express herself, especially when she’s confused about how her Indian culture fits in with her American upbringing. Dimple uses her camera as a way to take a step back and analyze what’s going on in her life, but it also has a way of bringing her closer to the action.
  • Dimple’s parents – Dimple’s parents are so caring and they are absolutely adorable together. Even though Dimple thinks they are trying to force her into a relationship with Karsh, they just want her to be with a nice guy. While Dimple tends to think of Indian culture as more of her parents’ thing, they try hard to keep that culture alive and make sure that their daughter is a part of it. I also like that Dimple gets to learn more about her parents and comes to see them more as people instead of just parents.
  • Dimple’s cousin – Dimple’s cousin is a character I find to be really interesting. She’s a little bit older than Dimple, and she spent more time in India, so she’s more connected to the Indian culture in the US than Dimple is. Her heritage is more a part of her life and she actively attempts to integrate her upbringing with the city around her. She also deals with keeping her girlfriend a secret from her family, and teaches Dimple that she’s not alone in feeling confused about the role her culture plays in her life. 

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  • vocab –  Dimple’s family is from India and they practice a lot of the traditional things from that culture. My problem with this is coming from 2 places; my ignorance of Indian culture and the lack of explanation of the new words in the book. It’s not ideal that so many of these things have to be explained to white audiences, but that’s how it was for me. I felt lost sometimes and I wish there were more about what some of the Indian things were; especially the clothing. I feel like the food was very well explained though. For instance, there was one sentence that thew me for a loop because I didn’t know what many of the things mentioned were. I’ve linked the underlined words to my Google searches of them. She wore a spangly chaniya choli, gold and satsuma, the dupatta in a twist round her neck, and the gold chains and black beads of the mangal sutra resting upon it.
  • Karsh – The ‘suitable boy’ that Dimple’s parents introduce her to, Karsh, is a little clueless when it comes to girls. He hangs out with Gwyn constantly; calling her pet names, teaching her DJing, spending time alone with her. Of course both Gwyn and Dimple would think that Gwyn and Karsh are an item, yet Karsh thinks it’s ridiculous for Dimple to think such a thing. I guess I just can’t figure out why Dimple likes Karsh so much. When did she have time to develop feelings for him during all of her being jealous of Gwyn?
  • Gwyn – Yes, Gwyn’s home life is awful because her mother ignores her. Gwyn craves constant attention and doesn’t realize how her actions affect others. I wish Dimple would have simply had a heart-to-heart with Gwyn about Karsh, but I also feel like Gwyn only wanted his attention because Dimple had it. Even though Dimple’s accusation that Gwyn was stealing her family and her culture is childish, I can see where she’s coming from. Gwyn wiggles her way into everything Indian in order to be more attractive to Karsh; something Dimple only cares about after she’s come to appreciate her culture.

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So I was an ABCD. Why hadn’t anyone told me? Why didn’t they put this in those spots where they say race doesn’t matter but please check one of the following?          – Loc. 1282/5737

History wasn’t that easy a thing to learn, seemed to be what I was learning. It wasn’t a static story about dead people. It was a revolving door fraught with ghosts still straining to tell their version and turn your head, multifaceted and blinding as a cut diamond.    – Loc. 3324


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3 Robots

Acquired: NetGalley


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