This is an important book in that it takes us inside the heads of two young boys from different backgrounds who are struggling to take control over their own lives.
Ravi ( pronounced ra -VEE) is a new student from India who thinks his life in America will be similar to his life back home where he was popular and applauded for his academic and athletic prowess. Joe has auditory processing issues and needs support from a special needs teacher to learn how to deal with being overwhelmed by noise. Ravi is distressed when he has to leave the classroom with him. In spite of his challenges, Joe is bright and compassionate. His biggest problem, aside from being bullied by Dillon, is that his mother works as a lunch monitor at the school. Ravi mistakes the attention of Dillon as friendship, until he targets and humiliates him. Fortunately Ravi and Joe figure out a way to outwit him.
I like that this book shows how difficult it is to adjust to living in a different culture. It was good to see how Ravi changed and grew and came to examine his own behaviour as a bully back in India. Both of the boys' parents are really lovely. I enjoyed the separate glossaries for the two boys at the end of the book. It cements the reader's awareness of cultural diversity without privileging one over the other. Josh Hurley & Vikas Adam's narration brings these two characters to life.
And the food. I was hungry all the time while listening to descriptions of it. I sure wish I had a recipe for those cumin cookies. I'm going to have to make meatloaf for supper one night this week.
What I didn't like at all, was how Dillon managed to get away with such behaviour. I don't understand how supervisors at lunch time could be so obtuse to what is happening. I was appalled that any classroom teacher would let such bullying go on in a classroom. I know we can't be aware of everything, but surely we aren't this ignorant.