Book #1. Albert Whitman & Co. (Sept. 2013) NetGalley
Twelve-year-old Mira comes from a chaotic, artistic, and outspoken family in which it's not always easy to be heard. As her beloved Nana Josie's health declines, Mira begins to discover the secrets of those around her and also starts to keep some of her own. She is drawn to mysterious Jide, a boy who is clearly hiding a troubled past. As Mira is experiencing grief for the first time, she is also discovering the wondrous and often mystical world around her. An incredibly insightful, honest novel exploring the delicate balance--and often injustice--of life and death. But at its heart, it's a celebration of friendship, culture--and life.
Mira is a very shy, precocious girl. She's at this pinnacle moment in her life where everything is changing. From facing the upcoming loss of someone close to her, becoming a "woman", falling for her first love, and finding her voice, Mira represents the changes a lot of young girls face in their tween years. Brahmachari creates a heartwarming story about growing up and how moments and choices in your life can shape you.
Mira is very quiet and let's her friend do the talking for her. She becomes visibly red when she talks in front of the class as well as in front of the boy she likes. Unlike me at that age she's very brave. She stands up for herself. You see her facing the fact that her grandmother is going to die soon and you see her change from that. There's also a writing group that she goes to with a couple of other students. You get to read about her life through her journal entries as well as from just the events occurring - her journal entries basically playback her thoughts on some significant moments that happen to her. I loved her bravery and seeing her come out of her shell. I think this is a great book for a lot of young girls that haven't yet shown the world who they are.
"When someone is dying, everything you say and do means more than it normally does. When someone is dying, you notice things... everything really. The whole of life is in slow motion."
Nana Josie, her grandmother, is dying and that's obviously tough on Mira. Mira is very very close with Nana Josie probably because they both love art so much. Nana Josie is an artist and she really wants to leave with a bang. She's a very charismatic person who is the type of person who makes friends at every turn. She's quite the character. She's a very sweet person and very... zany. She leaves it all out there. It's very heartbreaking to see this woman full of life dying. She embraces it though like how she and Mira paint her own coffin bright colors, she's just like that.
Being a 12 year old girl you expect a certain change. Mira gets her period which she talks about some. It's actually weird how there's like no books that mention a character getting their period. I mean it might be sort of awkward to read about but all us ladies go through it. It's not some big conspiracy and it's good for girls to relate to that situation especially if they read it during that time.
"Most people, by the time they get old, have grown themselves tough little shells around their hearts... The outside layers of an artichoke are so tough they're not even worth eating, but they get more and more tender as you come closer to the heart. These tough outer layers stop you feeling so much, so people walk around with hard little hearts that no one can touch."
I enjoyed Mira in the Present Tense. It's a bit slow until you get used to it and there was some of what felt like repetition or over talk about some topics. Other than that Mira's story was great. I cried at the right moments and Nana Josie broke my heart. Mira's brother at the end also got me going. I kind of feel like this book is for all the awkward girls out there. It's a great tween book that shows a girl facing real issues in her life. I also want to say that I'm super happy the main character is Indian. Very rare in books these days to have a protagonist that has a different culture and we need a little change every now and then. A sweet story.
This seems to be an old book that is being released again with a new cover and title. The original title is Artichoke Hearts which makes perfect sense for this story. There's also a sequel called Jasmine Skies. I don't know if there is going to be a new title and cover for it next year or what but both original book covers look great to me.