Eleven-year-old Dini and her best friend Maddie are in love. They are in love with Dolly Singh, the most beautiful and talented actress/singer/dancer in all of Bollywood. But they have been picking up on signs - signs that only a true fan would notice! - that Dolly is in some kind of trouble. When Dini's family suddenly moves to India, she knows this is her chance to find Dolly and fix everything. The only problem is, she'll be leaving Maddie behind...
Doesn't this book just look adorable? I love the fact that the protagonist is Indian-American and that much of the story takes place in India. That is certainly a country we don't get to see much of in MG or YA literature. And the introduction to Bollywood, complete with song lyrics and descriptions of big dance numbers, was a welcome break from more typical tween obsessions.
And I need to mention that the illustrations throughout are just as charming as the cover. I think Abigail Halpin just might be my new favorite artist. Check out this interview with both Halpin and author Uma Krishnaswami for more images and details on the creation of The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.
But... something about this story just didn't sit right with me. The third person narration was a small factor in that I never truly connected with Dini. It was also a little too convenient that Dolly just so happened to be living in the same remote, rural village that Dini had moved to. *Don't worry: That's not really a spoiler. Dini figures it out the day that she moves.* In fact, all the way through the book, the narrator makes it seem like Dini is having such a hard time "fixing everything" for Dolly, when really everything just kept (very unrealistically) falling into place.
I hate being negative, and this really was a very cute book, but it's just not going to make it on my Favorites list. I picked it up from the library because it's one of the contenders for SLJ's Battle of the Kids books. It's up against Allen Say's Drawing from Memory which is a completely different book in almost every way. So... I can't wait to see which comes out on top!
If you have a young tween reader looking for a book about moving, best friends, or Bollywood, this could be a great choice. If you're just looking for a good MG novel? This wouldn't be my first pick.
But of course, lots of others readers disagree. Check out these blogs for a second opinion:
- Heavy Medal
- The O.W.L.