I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
A young girl with dreams of becoming a musician must contend with parents who have their own dreams for her life, complex friendships and struggles in school and her journey to discover her place in the world in author Natasha Deen’s novel “In the Key of Nira Ghani”.
Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira’s grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it’s now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion.
As if fighting with her parents weren’t bad enough, Nira finds herself navigating a new friendship dynamic when her crush, Noah, and notorious mean-girl, McKenzie “Mac,” take a sudden interest in her and Emily, inserting themselves into the fold. So, too, does Nira’s much cooler (and very competitive) cousin Farah. Is she trying to wiggle her way into the new group to get closer to Noah? Is McKenzie trying to steal Emily’s attention away from her? As Farah and Noah grow closer and Emily begins to pull away, Nira’s trusted trumpet “George” remains her constant, offering her an escape from family and school drama.
But it isn’t until Nira takes a step back that she realizes she’s not the only one struggling to find her place in the world. As painful truths about her family are revealed, Nira learns to accept people for who they are and to open herself in ways she never thought possible.
A relatable and timely contemporary, coming-of age story, In the Key of Nira Ghani explores the social and cultural struggles of a teen in an immigrant household.
What a remarkable and moving coming of age novel. The author has expertly crafted a narrative that blends the hardships and struggles many young adults face growing up while also incorporating the added element of being in an immigrant household, showcasing the added pressures of having parents with a determined path for their future.
Character growth is the shining star of this narrative. The author’s ability to create realistic, memorable, and relatable characters is truly incredible. The relationships between Nira and the supporting cast are enough to get the reader invested, but the emotional core of this story is between Nira and her grandmother, two kindred spirits who must navigate the journey of living out one’s dreams. Nira’s evolution as a character is fascinating to see unfold and is reflective of the true nature of a coming of age novel like this one.
Beautiful, emotional, and well-written, author Natasha Deen’s “In the Key of Nira Ghani” is a must-read YA, coming of age novel. The story is lengthy yet engaging, keeping the reader invested wholly and completely. The shocking conclusion to the story and the journey of Nira makes this novel a one of a kind read, so if you haven’t yet been sure to grab your copy of this amazing book today!
About the Author
Natasha Deen’s family moved from Guyana, South America to Canada to escape the country’s political & racial violence. She loved growing up in a country of snow & flannel, but often felt out of place. Thank goodness for books that showed her being different could also mean being awesome. Natasha lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her family where she spends A LOT of time arguing with her cats and dogs about who’s the boss of the house. Visit her at www.natashadeen.com.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
One young woman’s goal of learning as much about politics as possible leads her down a path of betrayals, lies and shocking revelations that leads her to take on the establishment in author Michael R. French’s “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning An Election”. Here is the synopsis.
In 2025, the “youthification” of democracy has inspired younger candidates to challenge the ineffective and hypocritical gray-hairs in Congress. Running for student body president at an Indiana high school, political novice Brit Kitridge takes on incumbent Matthew Boltanski, who, with help from a mystery backer, already has his eyes set on Washington. Brit gains courage and insights from a wise history teacher on how to win, but ultimately finds a maze of deceit and corruption in her school. Is exposing the truth enough to win the election?
This coming of age YA drama was a fantastic exploration of the political system. Exploring a near future that sees backroom deals, corruption and scandal make its way from the halls of Washington all the way to a small high school in Indiana, the author expertly showcases the struggle to retain your morality and principles when fighting against money and power. In an age in which we now see more and more lies and corruption within our own government coming to light, this novel does a fantastic job of bringing the delicate nature of politics and intricacies of not only running for office, but holding office as well to younger generations, especially those who will be in a position to vote in just a couple year’s time.
The story itself is powerful, not only blending these themes and moral quandaries to the reader, but creating a narrative that is nearly cinematic in its approach. The characters are realistic, intriguing and hold the readers attention throughout the entirety of the novel. Yet it’s the powerful imagery used by the author to not only showcase the natural setting of the school and city this book takes place in, but to build an image of the emotions and complex state of the students and main characters as they go through this election, that really shines brightly throughout this book.
This is a must read YA, coming of age novel in 2019. An important message followed by a powerful narrative and memorable characters, author Michael R. French has created a stand-alone novel that grabs the reader’s attention and manages to wrap up the character’s stories beautifully, all the while allowing the reader to bond with these characters enough to ponder their fictional futures. If you enjoy a good YA novel with themes of politics, corruption and fighting the good fight, then grab your copy of The Beginner’s Guide to Winning today!
Michael R. French graduated from Stanford University where he was an English major, focusing on creative writing, and studied under Wallace Stegner. He received a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He later served in the United States Army before marrying Patricia Goodkind, an educator and entrepreneur, and starting a family.
In addition to publishing over twenty titles, including award-winning young adult fiction, adult fiction, biographies ad self-help books, he has written or co-written a half-dozen screenplays, including Intersection, which has won awards in over twenty film festivals. He has also had a long business career in real estate, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His passions include travel, collecting rare books, and hanging with friends and family. He describes his worst traits as impatience and saying “no” too quickly; his best are curiosity, taking risks, and learning from failure.
French’s work, which includes several best-sellers, has been warmly reviewed in the New York Timesand been honored with a number of literary prizes.
“Michael French has penned a fascinating, fast-paced, futuristic story about a determined high school senior named Brit who runs an against-all-odds campaign for student body president. There are scenarios that bedevil the imagination: dirty tricks, cyber and other tech attacks, love intrigues, and a picture of how the personal growth of one individual can shape a collective future. As a politician with several elections under my belt, I couldn’t put the novel down.”
–Governor Bill Richardson
Former member of Congress, US Ambassador to the United Nations, US Secretary of Energy, and Governor of NM
“Politics and kids. Michael R. French knows them in everyday life and in high school. Politics squeeze the kids, and the kids squeeze back. What happens matters in the hearts and minds of young people as well as in the larger world that shapes us all. This is a smart novel with vision, and a story full of feeling.”
Author of Hero, Fool, and Beauty,a Wall Street JournalFavorite Book
“If you like cheering for an underdog and savor a complex, exciting story that seems to spring from today’s events, you’ll love The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election. We could use more real heroes like Brit, the leading character in Michael R. French’s newest novel. She’s a young woman with tremendous tenacity and a strong moral compass who rises above her innate shyness to make a difference in her world.”
Author of the New York Timesbest-selling Leaphorn/Chee/Manuelito mystery series
“Michael R. French weaves a frighteningly plausible tale of political and educational corruption and gives us a heroine worthy of exploring, uncovering, and confronting it. Like all great heroes, she stumbles into her quest but then grows into knowing the power of honesty, principles, truth, and teamwork in pursuing it. This is a novel for anyone who honors history, idealism, and courage in the face of our country’s current political, economic, educational, and moral challenges.”
Author of Dead Birds Singing, A Sunburned Prayer, and Heart of a Jaguar
“A wise, provocative novel about an Indiana high school student body election in a 2025 post-Orwellian universe. A political novice, a science whiz named Britain, is surprisingly motivated to take on the establishment favorite, who may not be who he claims to be. Here Michael French, one of today’s greatest writers for young adults, gives us a realistic page turner with complex themes that intrigues adults, too.”
—Barbara Beasley Murphy
Award-winning author of Ace Hits the Big Time and Miguel Lost & Found in the Palace
“The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election, a captivating novel, follows the story of Britain, a senior in high school who runs a daring campaign for student body president in the year 2026. The brilliance of this work is that wrapped into its easy-to-follow and easily relatable narrative are deep political and socioeconomic messages that can be foundational in understanding politics and also offer new perspective on the current status of US politics. I recommend this incredibly engaging book for readers thirteen and up, and even schools that wish to teach students more about the high privilege and honor it is to be able to vote and have a political voice in our country.”
Award-winning filmmaker, youth activist, and author of Lucky or Not, Here I Come
“For high school history, civics, and political science teachers who want to help their students understand the political process on a much larger stage, this highly readable page turner has it all—candidate messaging using social media, hidden agendas, opponent bashing, fake news, and even dark money. I highly recommend this compelling book as an effective teaching tool.”
Former teacher, principal, and superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools
“An inspirational novel, A Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election examines America’s broken political system through the lens of a student body presidential election at a midwestern high school. From the issue of dark money’s influence on our elections to convincing the habitual nonvoter to vote, author French weaves an emotional tale of an underdog’s efforts to win the election and save her school’s integrity. For those losing hope in America, this book is a must read.”
—Bruce Berlin, JD
Author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America and
president of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics
“The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election is a heartfelt and moving story with vivid characters and a realistic, near-future setting. I highly recommend this novel of courage, honesty, duplicity, and the corrupting influence of private interests in public education—a wonderful book that deserves a wide audience.”
#1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God
“We have a saying at our high school’s model legislature: ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport.’ Michael R. French’s poignant new novel demonstrates that adage through Brit Kitridge, a high school senior who finds her political voice and clarifies her future by challenging her school’s beloved principal. I hope this book inspires more students to get involved in politics and public service by doing the same—speaking up.”
High school AP government and politics teacher, and
co-sponsor of Model Legislature/Youth in Government
Wednesday, February 27th @ Bring on Lemons with Carmen Otto
Middle Schooler Carmen Otto offers her thoughts after reading “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French. Readers won’t want to miss this chance to hear from Carmen and learn more about this excellent YA novel!
Friday, March 8th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Madeline Sharples reviews the enjoyable YANovel “The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election” by Michael R. French. Readers and Choices won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear what Madeline thinks about this book.