The best young adult novels featuring Indian American characters

Why am I passionate about this?

I specialize in writing Young Adult Fiction with an emphasis on the Romance genre, and my debut novel, Kismat Connection, releases from Inkyard Press and HarperCollins in Summer 2023. Growing up as an Indian American, I remember searching for bits and pieces of my identity in the media. Most of the time, I wouldn’t find any representation at all—so it wasn’t long before I decided that if I couldn’t find the representation that I so desperately wanted to see, I’d have to make it myself. Kismat Connection was born from this moment in my life, and it will forever serve as the foundation for my career in publishing.


I wrote...

Kismat Connection

By Ananya Devarajan,

Book cover of Kismat Connection

What is my book about?

When Dimple Met Rishi meets How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days in this #OwnVoices young adult romance novel following Madhuri Iyer, a girl whose family legacy dictates that she will marry her first boyfriend, as she decides to rope her best friend into a fake dating experiment to prove the existence of her own free will—not knowing that he is already in love with her. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Radha & Jai's Recipe for Romance

Ananya Devarajan Why did I love this book?

This is a young adult romance novel featuring Radha Chopra, a world-renowned Kathak dancer, who gives up her love of dance when a family betrayal comes to light. Radha is instantly a protagonist to root for, a strong, independent, and fierce Indian woman that we so rarely see in contemporary Western media. Nisha Sharma champions such genuine desi representation in this story, and it is absolutely a must-read for all—but especially for passionate and creative Indian American teenagers. 

By Nisha Sharma,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Radha & Jai's Recipe for Romance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Radha was on the verge of winning the world's biggest kathak dancing competition when a family betrayal shattered her dreams, and her confidence. Now, she's made a deal with her mum: study dance for a year at the Princeton Academy of Arts and Sciences and then leave that world forever. But if she's not a dancer, what is she? Could learning to cook - a way to connect with her absent father - become her new passion?
Jai, captain of the academy's Bollywood Beats dance team, is putting his hopes of going to medical school on hold because money is…


Book cover of American Betiya

Ananya Devarajan Why did I love this book?

Anuradha Rajurkar's American Betiya is the young adult contemporary novel I needed growing up as an Indian American teenager. It was effortless to relate to Rani Kelkar's journey amidst love and heartbreak to Indian culture and the racism that often follows, sometimes from the most unexpected places. Her coming-of-age is characterized by the staples of the genre, but also transcends the tropes it is founded upon. American Betiya focuses not on what defines Rani's journey, but Rani herself, which makes for an incredibly compelling read that connects you to the characters instantaneously. And honestly, it was so refreshing to see an Indian American teenager face such unique challenges without losing herself or her identity, which isn't often portrayed in mainstream media. Simply put, American Betiya is a must-read for anyone, regardless of if you're Indian, American, or somewhere in between. 

By Anuradha D. Rajurkar,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked American Betiya as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A luminous story of a young artist grappling with first love, family boundaries and the complications of a cross-cultural relationship. Perfect for fans of Sandhya Menon, Erika Sanchez and Jandy Nelson.

Praise for American Betiya
A Bank Street College of Education Best Book of 2022
A YALSA Best Best Fiction for Young Adults
A Cosmopolitan Best 100 Books of All Time
A Book Riot best YA Book of 2021
A South Asia Book Award 2022 honoree
A Children's Cooperative 2022 Best Book of the Year
A 2022 Nerdy Book Club Best Novel Award Winner

Rani Kelkar has never lied to…


Book cover of When Dimple Met Rishi

Ananya Devarajan Why did I love this book?

When Dimple Met Rishi is one of the first young adult romances featuring Indian American teenagers to garner international acclaim. What makes this story so powerful is not necessarily the romantic plot—although Rishi is quite the swoon-worthy hero, and Dimple is an empowered heroine that commands her audience’s attention straight away. In fact, When Dimple Met Rishi succeeds in its deliberate bridging of the Indian American diaspora, taking the time to emphasize that one can subscribe to both cultures without losing one or the other. As a young adult in this diaspora as well, I can really resonate with Dimple and Rishi’s struggles, and it was a joy to see them overcome these challenges and fall in love all at once.

By Sandhya Menon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Dimple Met Rishi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller
A Goodreads Choice YA finalist

'Get ready to fall in love with Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel' HelloGiggles

Now on Netflix as 'Mismatched'

Meet Dimple.

Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.

He's rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she's got other plans...

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works even harder to prove itself in the…


Book cover of Sister of the Bollywood Bride

Ananya Devarajan Why did I love this book?

This is a complex young adult contemporary novel that spotlights Mini as she singlehandedly organizes the wedding-of-the-year for her older sister and her fiancé. Amidst the primary plot of Mini pulling together the wedding and falling in love with the handsome Vir Mirchandani, there is a unifying theme of family. Nandini Bajpai does an incredible job of unpacking the elements of an Indian family, specifically in how they support each other after the loss of a loved one. It was heartwarming to see Mini come into her own by the end of her story, and I highly recommend this book to anyone with a penchant for Indian weddings, Indian culture, and young love. 

By Nandini Bajpai,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sister of the Bollywood Bride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

Mini's big sister is getting married. Their mom passed away seven years ago and between Dad's new start-up and Vinnie's medical residency, there's no one but Mini to plan the wedding. Dad raised her to know more about computers, calculus and cars than desi weddings but from the moment Mini held the jewelry Mom left them, she wanted her sister to have the wedding Mom would've planned.

Now Mini has only two months to get it done and she's not going to let anything distract her, not even the persistent, mysterious and smoking-hot Vir Mirchandani. Flower garlands, decorations, music, even…


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Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

By Kimberly Behre Kenna,

Book cover of Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

Kimberly Behre Kenna Author Of Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

From early childhood, I escaped into nature when times got tough—climbing trees, exploring the woods, and chatting with beach creatures. When I had to be indoors, books were my escape, and most of my favorites had rich nature settings that were so well-drawn that I could see them and feel like I was actually there. Following strong protagonists as they deal with life challenges by interacting with nature was an affirmation for me and still is. As a parent and former fifth-grade teacher, I’ve witnessed the power that books have to lessen loneliness and inspire hope and activism. 

Kimberly's book list on middle grade kids and nature mingle

What is my book about?

Artemis Sparke has had it with humans. She heads to the nearby salt marsh to hang out with the birds, plants, and mollusks who don't make a big deal of her stutter. The shoreline sanctuary is predictable, unlike her family and friends, and the data in her science journal proves it.

But one day that data goes haywire, and her bird friend RT confirms it: the salt marsh is dying. Artemis discovers that the historic hotel where she lives with her mom may be part of the problem, but speaking up would mean confronting the cranky hotel owner who happens…

Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

By Kimberly Behre Kenna,

What is this book about?

"...Artemis Sparke is pure energy! ...Kenna's well-crafted debut is a timely gift." -Leslie Connor, National Book Award finalist and author of The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle and Anybody Here Seen Frenchie?

When Artemis Sparke has had it with humans, she heads to the nearby salt marsh to hang out with the birds, plants, and mollusks who don't make a big deal of her stutter. The shoreline sanctuary is predictable, unlike her family and friends, and the data in her science journal proves it. But one day that data goes haywire, and her bird friend RT confirms it: the…


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