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Riot Recommendation

28 Books About Growing Up In America’s Cultural Melting Pot

Amanda Nelson

Staff Writer

Amanda Nelson is an Executive Director of Book Riot. She lives in Richmond, VA.

This week’s Riot Recommendation is sponsored by Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier.

bombay blues coverTwelve years ago, Tanuja Desai Hidier changed the face of young adult literature with her debut novel, Born Confused — a groundbreaking South Asian American YA novel. Set against the backdrop of the New York City bhangra club scene, the acclaimed book, hailed by Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone as one of the best young adult novels of all time, takes readers on a journey that spans art, love, friendship, and self-identity. Bombay Blues, the long-anticipated sequel, is now available wherever books and eBooks are sold! Also available now is Desai Hidier’s album Bombay Spleen – an album of original songs linked to Bombay Blues.

With her second novel, Tanuja Desai Hidier cements herself as a voice not only for South Asian teens, but also for anyone who is struggling with their identity. In fact, much of the inspiration for Born Confusedand for Bombay Blues stems from Desai Hidier’s personal struggle with identity while growing up in New York City.

Now 19, Dimple is headed to Mumbai (Bombay) to come face-to-face with the culture she’s just beginning to understand.


In this Riot Recommendation, we asked for your favorite books about growing up in the cultural melting pot that is the United States. Get out your TBR- here’s a list of your favorite books about identity, culture, and coming-of-age in the U.S.:

Bronx Primitive by Kate Simon

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman

Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House by Faith Ringgold

American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar

In The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Lord

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Crescent by Diana Abu Jaber

Language of Baklava by Diana Abu Jaber

Once in a Promised Land by Laila Halaby

West of the Jordan by Laila Halaby

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier

Like Lesser Gods by Mari Tomasi

Arabian Jazz by Diana Abu-Jaber

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair

Streets of Gold by Evan Hunter

Caucasia by Danzy Senna