April 9, 2019
The first scene of “In the Key of Nira Ghani” details a moment to which many readers who grew up in the South Asian diaspora can relate. Nira, the teen protagonist of Natasha Deen’s young adult novel is trying to finish her science project during lab. But mean girl McKenzie has other ideas. She starts pestering Nira about whether she was offended by the class working with a cow eyeball.
“We killed a cow. Are you mad at us or something? Aren’t they sacred to your people or whatever?”
Nira calmly explains that she is not, in fact, Hindu, and wonders if she should explain that she isn’t Indian. Her parents are from Guyana and Nira struggles to balance her desire to be a typical Canadian teen with her seemingly old-fashioned cultural restrictions — all while also navigating her first crush and the ups and downs of high school.