I hope that lots of young readers discover Uma Krishnaswami’s charming new book, The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. Why? Because it’s about Bollywood, and friendship, and creativity, and quirky communities, and the strange way that people’s lives intersect. It is a true middle grade read, with a character who is in the middle of discovering what matters to her most, and also that life is sometimes tricky and complicated.
Eleven-year-old Dini is crazy for all things Bollywood. She might live in suburban Maryland, but in many ways, her heart is in Bombay, the center of India’s film world. She and her best friend Maddie spend hours watching “fillums,” particularly the ones starring Dolly Singh, Dini’s favourite Bollywood star who is “So smart. So elegant. So talented. So perfect.” But when Dini’s mom announces that the family will be moving to a tiny village in India, far away from Maddie, from Bombay, from just about everywhere, Dini can’t see how this plan fits anywhere into the script that she has written for her life. The move forces Dini to revise – and keep revising – her grand plan. It turns out that Swapnagiri is a town with a lot of heart – and more than enough surprises for the script that is Dini’s life story.
Krishnaswami’s book has earned starred reviews from Kirkus, and from Publishers Weekly, and I can see why. There is such a fabulous sense of buoyancy in this tale. Dini is a quirky but believable tween, and I loved the vividness of the author’s depiction of Swapnagiri, with its monkeys and leaning houses and vast green tea fields and the Dreamycakes Bakery (where everything contains chocolate). There’s this sense of everything being just a tiny bit larger than life, and I loved the idea that everyday life can turn out to be as magical as life on-screen, if we just give it a chance. Oh, and I hardly need mention that Abigail Halpin’s illustrations are fantastic. I could never get tired of her work, and her pictures match the spirit of this story perfectly. You don’t need to be a Bollywood fan to cheer for Dini and get swept up in this delightfully cheery tale.
The Grand Plan to Fix Everything is published by Atheneum.