Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Samosa Rebellion

Sekaran, Shanthi. The Samosa Rebellion.
September 21st 2021 by Katherine Tegen Books
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Muki Krishnan lives on the (fictional) Mariposa Island with his parents, who immigrated there from India before Muki was born so his mother could take a job in a research laboratory. Since his grandmother, Paati, misses the family so much, she moves to Mariposa as well, so that she can watch Muki when his mother is busy and his father is working long hours at the takeaway shop he runs. Muki has a scholarship to the prestigious Marble Hill Preparatory Academy, which is a one hour subway ride away from where he lives in Oceanview. There is only one other Indian student in his class, Raju. While their mothers are friends, Muki would rather hang out with his friend in the neighborhoo, Fabi, and is not sad that he is paired with Tinley Schaedler for a project. Unfortunately, her father is a general supporting the president, Birch Bamberger, who has decided that "Mariposa should be for Mariposans". Immigrant families like Muki's, no matter how long they have lived in the country, are considered "Moths", whereas the original families (who came from other places) are "Butterflies", and feel that even though the country is wealthy, "Moths" are taking resources away from the people who really deserve them. Muki and his friends even find a camp that is set up to hold detainees from different countries, which is exactly what it turns out Bamberger wishes to do. When this hits the news, resistance groups start to form, and Muki's family is very interested in this, especially when Paati is taken and detained in a camp. Muki is not supposed to have anything to do with Tinley, but the two have become friends while working on their project and keep seeing each other, especially since they find out about others in Tinley's household who don't support the initiative to remove people. When Bamberger starts to round up people, will Muki and his family and friends be able to help stop him?
Strengths: Muki's experiences as a second generation Mariposan mirror those of many people in the US. The family moves so that the mother can get a good job, but the father's credentials don't follow him, so he has to find other employment. They live in a neighborhood that is primarily other immigrant families. Muki gets a scholarship, but doesn't feel entirely comfortable in his fancy school where there are few people who share his background. The government's attempts to round up people are aided by tiny spy cams called "dragonflies", which make this almost futuristic and dystopian. The government forces are called Crickets because of their uniforms, and the end up being not quite as evil as one would suppose. The revolution unfolded in a rather simple and bloodless way, but this makes it more accessible to younger readers who might want to know about revolutions but aren't quite ready for the devastation of some real ones. 
Weaknesses: I kept wondering if Mariposa was a real place, and if this was historical fiction because the descriptions were so vivid. 
What I really think: This was a bit more like The Mouse That Roared (although not as satyrical) or Medoza's Sanctuary than Athaide's Orange for the Sunsets. I wish there had been a definite statement that Mariposa was entirely fictional. This reminded me a bit of Agosin's I Lived on Butterfly Hill where the story is set in Chile of the 1960s, but the names of political leaders are changed. 

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