By Nidhi Chanani
Published by First Second
Review by Stephanie Cooke
Pashmina is such a wonderful, empowering book for young women in the world. The story is about Priyanka, a teenage Indian girl who was born in America and has only ever known that as her home. As she explores her life through her creative projects, she begins to wonder more about her family in India and what happened there to her mother to drive her away from those she loved most and why she would want to start anew without them. She longs to know more about her father and all sorts of other things that a young girl might want to know about.
As her mother puts up walls to try to protect Priyanka, she inadvertently makes Pri even more hellbent on finding the truth. One day, she finds a beautiful pashmina in her mother’s things. The pashmina shows Priyanka beautiful visions of India and drives her need to know more about her past and her family.
Most of the story is told in simple but lovely black and white. When Priyanka puts on the pashmina, however, the world that she sees while wearing it is in full, beautiful colour. The pages are vibrant and enriched, which shows how India calls to Priyanka and how enticing that world is to her. It’s something outside of her every day life and is full of sights, sounds, smells and people that Priyanka hasn’t experienced before.
The story is sweet and teaches women that they can choose their own fate and future. Their happiness is not reliant on someone else and at any point in time, you can adjust your path. The art is fairly simplistic but not in a bad way. It’s along the lines of what you might see in a Raina Telgemeier book, but minus the colour (except with the pashmina sequences).
It’s nice to see a character that embraces their heritage and background and wants to actively find out more about their family and history as opposed to seeing teenagers who are rebelling by not wanting anything to do with it. Priyanka loves drawing and creating stories for her and her friends. She finds inspiration in her personal life and experiences, which I found absolutely charming.
Buy this book! I think it’s an important story that will help young people embrace their backgrounds, especially in a time when politicians and people stuck in the past are making many feel like you can’t be proud of your heritage unless you’re white. Diversity makes us special and Pashmina demonstrates that theme for us over and over again.
Pashmina will be out later this year on October 7, 2017.