How to Find What You're Not Looking For (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

It’s 1967, and interracial marriage has just become legal in all fifty states. Ariel Goldberg’s big sister elopes with a grad student of Indian descent (he’s an American) and her parents freak out! No one will tell her where Leah is, and Ariel is devastated when her sister doesn’t call or write. On top of all that, her teacher thinks Ariel has a learning disability. Ariel’s narration is spot-on eleven-year-old, and I love the poetry she writes to make sense of her life. While not excusing racist behavior, Veera Hiranandani sensitively portrays Ariel’s parent’s feelings about her sister’s marriage and the importance of their Jewish faith following the Holocaust. How to Find What You’re Not Looking For is semi-autobiographical. Hiranandani has a white, Jewish mom and her dad’s family immigrated from India. I can see this book starting important discussions about faith and identity in a way that appeals to kids because the characters are so engaging and relatable, and the author blends in just the right touch of humor. An excellent follow-up to the Newbery Honor-winning Night Diary that will definitely have a place on my staff rec shelf!

— Jenny Chou

Ariel Goldberg’s family lives in suburban Connecticut, where they run a not good but not particularly successful Jewish bakery in a not particularly Jewish town. She’s struggling with school, what with her chicken scratch handwriting that might indicate a learning disability, as well as harassment from a class bully. But her troubles threaten to be overwhelmed by her older sister Leah’s secret: that her new boyfriend is Raj, a young Hindu man who works at the local record store, and they are planning to elope. The timing of the story is essential, just after the Loving v. Virginia case. And I love how this lovely novel is suffused with Sergeant Pepper and other 1968 references, bakery treats, and Ariel's poetry. 

— Daniel Goldin


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.

About the Author

Veera Hiranandani, author of the Newbery Honor–winning The Night Diary, earned her MFA in creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the author of The Whole Story of Half a Girl, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and a South Asia Book Award finalist, and How to Find What You're Not Looking For, winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award and the New York Historical Society Children's History Book Prize. A former editor at Simon & Schuster, she now teaches in the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA Program at The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Praise For…

A Sydney Taylor Award Winner
A Jane Addams Children's Book Award Winner
A Judy Lopez Memorial Award Winner
A NAIBA Carla Cohen Free Speech Award Winner
A National Jewish Book Award Finalist
A Junior Library Guild Selection
A 2022 ALSC Notable Children’s Book
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2021
A New-York Historical Society's Children’s History Book Prize Winner
An Amazon Best Children’s Book of 2021
A Bank Street College The Best Children’s Books of the Year 2022 


by Veera Hiranandani

*"A splendid historical fiction tale of bravery and determination." —School Library Journal, starred review.

*"A powerful blend of important themes and everyday triumphs and sorrows." —Kirkus, starred review

...explores the benefits and costs of assimilation and the complexity of being both white and a religious minority in America then—and now." —Publisher's Weekly, starred review.

"In this moving novel about a turbulent time, Ari and her family discover that what is most important is not what you think you want." —Booklist

"What’s most striking about the book is how kind it is. People learn, forgive, try to do better. In a knee-jerk time (ours), it’s powerful to witness Ari’s realization that people can grow and change." —New York Times Book Review by Marjorie Ingall

 “Gorgeously written and deeply moving, with a main character you can’t help but love, How to Find What You’re Not Looking For deals with the hardest act in one’s fight for justice—confronting the prejudice of those who are closest to us. Hiranandani is a master.” —Adam Gidwitz, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Inquisitor’s Tale

Product Details
ISBN: 9780525555032
ISBN-10: 052555503X
Publisher: Kokila
Publication Date: September 14th, 2021
Pages: 384
Language: English