How to Find What You're Not Looking For

by Veera Hiranandani

Book, 2021



Call number




Kokila (2021), 384 pages


New historical fiction from a Newbery Honor-winning author about how middle schooler Ariel Goldberg's life changes when her big sister elopes following the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, and she's forced to grapple with both her family's prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences, as she defines her own beliefs.  Twelve-year-old Ariel Goldberg's life feels like the moment after the final guest leaves the party. Her family's Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, and her older sister has eloped with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. As change becomes Ariel's only constant, she's left to hone something that will be with her always--her own voice.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member m.belljackson
"How to Find What You're Not Looking For" opens with a fluid first person style which holds strong for the entire book.

Ariel and Jane's characters become well revealed, except why Jane ignored Ari when with her cafeteria friends. Mother also painfully lets go of her bizarre beliefs and fears while
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why Ari's father doesn't stand up stronger for his daughters remains a mystery.

It would also be welcome to know what Raj actually thinks about getting involved with this whole family of weirdness, from hatred to bankruptcy.

The Chapter "How To" headings are really clever and invite re-reading.

The plot gradually unfolds many secretive perspectives. I sure wish the Nancy Drew finding of Leah had been the result of a continued hard search rather than a disappointing accidental encounter.

The easy forgiveness of Ari's parents' ongoing lies and betrayals would have many kids instead temporarily disowning them. How could they ever be trusted?
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LibraryThing member jennybeast
It took me a while to get used to the 2nd person narrative voice -- I admit I find it a bit intrusive and distracting, but after while I just got used to the rhythm of it, and I think it works. I LOVED Ari's poetry, I loved how her teacher found ways to help her with dysgraphia, I loved the ongoing
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conversation about interracial marriage and how strongly the setting (just after the Loving v. Virginia decision) supported Leah and Raj's story.

It's kind of fascinating to imagine being young in a time when Hippies were this new unknown and dangerous countercultural movement, when the Civil Rights marches were on the news, and the Beatles and Elvis were big -- it's not that long ago, but somehow this book brings it home to me in a really big way. Ariel is going through a lot, but she brings her family to a better place.

I was surprised that one of the solutions in the end is that the family moves into an apartment over the bakery -- why did they never consider that before? Maybe it was a size thing? Was that apartment always there? If so, wouldn't that have been the obvious solution all along, to live in an apartment you own rather than rent? Anyway, that's a nitpicky sort of confusion when really I enjoyed the book very much. It's a powerful story about finding your voice.

Advanced reader's copy provided by Edelweiss.
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Original language


Physical description

384 p.; 8.63 inches


052555503X / 9780525555032
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