In the Key of Nira Ghani
In the Key of Nira Ghani
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Annotation: Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira's grandmother and her best friend, Emily are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira relizes it's now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion.
Catalog Number: #182615
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
Publisher: Running Press
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 298 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-7624-6547-6
ISBN 13: 978-0-7624-6547-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018951805
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Nira, daughter of stubborn Guyanese-Indian immigrants and the "only brown girl" in her Canadian high school, auditions for the school jazz band. As Nira validates her own talent, she sees that her friend Emily and her cousin Farah are also struggling to come to terms with their identities and family situations. This bittersweet, humorous coming-of-age story offers no easy solutions or redemption narratives, but Nira is a hopeful, relatable character.
Kirkus Reviews
Nira Ghani is the only brown girl in her Canadian school yet she feels invisible.She stands out for the wrong reasons and longs to feel a sense of belonging. She's a Guyanese child of immigrant parents who have traditional values and dream for her to become a doctor, but her passion is music. The only people Nira feels truly see her are her grandmother and her best friend, Emily. Nira decides to audition for the jazz band at school, knowing that getting her parents to consent will be a battle. She nevertheless makes a plan, which includes getting a job to cover the cost of a trumpet—something else her parents will oppose. But these are not her only challenges. Nira finds that life doesn't unfold the way you picture it or even how you want it to, and she learns the value in unexpected blessings and lessons. She navigates changes in her relationships with friends, family, and even a potential new love. Deen (Lark Takes a Bow, 2018, etc.) infuses her family's Guyanese immigrant history into this novel about the exploration and discovery of self and the world. Mentions of everyday cultural traditions are welcome additions to this tale of a teen finding the courage to stand up for her individuality while honoring the people she comes from.A charming, honest, and heartwarming story that will leave readers satiated and happy. (Fiction. 12-adult)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Nira is the only child of a strict, lower middle class Guyanese couple living in America with her loving, wise grandmother. Expectations are high, a medical career the only acceptable one, while Nira identifies as a self-taught trumpet player. The postcolonial reality of a heightened generation gap in the family takes the form of sarcasm, which invades most of Nira's early interactions with her parents. They do not support her music, but her grandmother's peaceful presence with a cup of tea mitigates much of the conflict. When Nira develops a crush on Noah and hears about the competitive auditions for the school jazz band, her social horizons start to shift, as well as her relationship with her stunning cousin, Farah, who has a better wardrobe and a more financially successful set of immigrant parents. When Nira goes on vacation with Farah and gets to know her rebellious cousin better, her insecurity and jealousy come to the surface, but she soon realizes that not every boy likes the prettiest girl on the blocksome are attracted to most authentic. Teens looking for characters capable of compassion and forgiveness, as well as characters who transcend the binary stereotypes of a good and bad girl, might find a friend in Nira, relief in Noah, and compassion for the flashier and unhappier Farah. VERDICT A younger high school crowd with an appetite for snark will enjoy the bumpy road that Nira walks toward authenticity, love, and true friendship. Sara Lissa Paulson, City-As-School High School, New York City
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Nira wants to be a musician more than anything in this world; however, her parents want her to become a scientist. Newly arrived in Canada from Guyana, Nira struggles to balance the expectations born of being the child of immigrants with her desire to fit in with her peers. Her parents have strict rules about studying, saving money, and focusing on school; however, Nira only sees her dreams of playing jazz trumpet and her budding crush on one of the most popular guys in school. In the Key of Nira Ghani is the YA novel today's readers have been waiting for. Deen weaves together an array of complex and believable characters and pulls on her own experience as a Guyanese migrant to create a well-written and plausible story. Nira is sarcastic, hilarious, and takes teenage angst to another level, and readers will love the way she approaches daily life with humor and curiosity. Many teens will relate to the trials of what it means to be an underrepresented minority teenager navigating a new culture. This work poignantly explores the timeless storyline of defying the dreams of your parents in order to find your own path, making it a great choice for teens striving to develop their own identity in the face of adversity.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (3/1/18)
Horn Book (8/1/19)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (4/1/19)
Voice of Youth Advocates
Word Count: 64,650
Reading Level: 4.2
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.2 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 505501 / grade: Upper Grades
Guided Reading Level: Z
Fountas & Pinnell: Z

Amy Mathers Award Winner
MYRCA Award Nominee
R. Ross Arnett Award Nominee
American Library Association YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers
Red Maple Award Nominee
Red Maple Honour Book
Barnes & Noble’s Top 25 Most Anticipated Own Voices Novels
Chapters-Indigo Most Anticipated Teen Books
Junior Library Guild Selection
CCBC Best Pick for Kids & Teens
CCBC Red Leaf Literature
OLA White Pine Teen Committee Summer Reading List


A Guyanese girl must find the balance between her parents' "old world" expectations and traditions while pursuing her dream of being a great trumpeter in this contemporary, coming-of-age story.

Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira's grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it's now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion.

As if fighting with her parents weren't bad enough, Nira finds herself navigating a new friendship dynamic when her crush, Noah, and notorious mean-girl, McKenzie "Mac," take a sudden interest in her and Emily, inserting themselves into the fold. So, too, does Nira's much cooler (and very competitive) cousin Farah. Is she trying to wiggle her way into the new group to get closer to Noah? Is McKenzie trying to steal Emily's attention away from her? As Farah and Noah grow closer and Emily begins to pull away, Nira's trusted trumpet "George" remains her constant, offering her an escape from family and school drama.

But it isn't until Nira takes a step back that she realizes she's not the only one struggling to find her place in the world. As painful truths about her family are revealed, Nira learns to accept people for who they are and to open herself in ways she never thought possible.

A relatable and timely contemporary, coming-of age story, In the Key of Nira Ghani explores the social and cultural struggles of a teen in an immigrant household.


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