While you were dreaming

Alisha Rai

Book - 2023

Sixteen-year-old Indian American Sonia, who has undocumented family members, goes viral after saving her crush James's life.

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Location Call Number   Status
Young Adult New Shelf YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Rai Alisha (NEW SHELF) Checked In
Young adult fiction
Romance fiction
Social problem fiction
New York : Quill Tree Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2023]
First edition
Physical Description
425 pages ; 22 cm
Ages 13 up.
Grades 10-12.
Main Author
Alisha Rai (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Rai's While You Were Dreaming uniquely tackles undocumented immigration, with a sprinkling of romance and adventure. In the book, Indian American Sonia Patil loves comics and everything geeky, and finds solace in cosplay and fantasy worlds. Her family is struggling financially because her mother was deported, so Sonia must work on top of going to school. A bright spot appears in the form of a local Comic-Con, which Sonia attends in full superhero attire--crafted by herself, of course. The story takes a fun turn when, en costume, Sonia saves the life of a boy on whom she has a crush. Her daring move goes viral, thrusting a masked Sonia into the world of social media fame. As Sonia juggles her feelings for the boy she saved and another boy in whom she's interested, she also fears being discovered as the viral superhero, as it could throw a spotlight on her family--namely her undocumented sister. This coming-of-age story is filled with true teen conflicts and crushes, and readers will root for the honest, strong-willed Sonia.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this moving ode to comics culture, community care, and the joy of unexpected first love, a spirited nod to 1990s rom-com While You Were Sleeping, Indian American high schooler Sonia Patil has been keeping a low profile ever since her mother was deported for overstaying her medical visa. The fact that Sonia's older sister Kareena's status is undocumented puts added pressure on Sonia to avoid unwanted attention and stay under the radar to maintain their relative stability, especially since Kareena has been supporting them both following their mother's deportation. Sonia's superhero cosplaying provides an escape, but after she rescues her crush James Cooper, who is Black and Indian, from a tumble into a canal while she's in costume, her heroic act goes viral. Suddenly, the world is on the hunt for Sonia's alter ego, and her previously peaceful passion thrusts Sonia, Kareena, and the Cooper family into the social media spotlight. Sonia's troubles and triumphs are richly drawn; through her struggles, Rai (Partners in Crime, for adults) intimately explores personal questions around body image, mental health, and toxic internet culture while interweaving thought-provoking interrogations of U.S. immigration and healthcare policies. Ages 13--up. (Mar.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

A high school junior dodges the spotlight after saving her crush from accidentally drowning. Growing up, Indian American Sonia Patil and her older sister, Kareena, were taught to avoid attention. While Sonia is a citizen by birth, her mother and Kareena are both undocumented; they originally came to the U.S. seeking treatment for Kareena's infant leukemia. Since their mother's recent deportation, Sonia has felt even more pressured to protect Kareena. She's terrified of being revealed as James Cooper's rescuer, especially after details about the incident are picked up by the news and spread across social media. When Sonia visits the Coopers' restaurant to check on James' recovery, she's mistaken for his new girlfriend. Although this misunderstanding is quickly resolved, Sonia finds herself drawn to the Coopers, a close-knit Black and Indian family whose strong relationships and deep community roots contrast sharply with the fragility of her own. A new friendship and an unexpected attraction to James' older brother, Niam, further complicate matters and force Sonia, who prefers to retreat from her problems, to choose between staying in her daydreams and taking charge of her life. Undocumented immigration, stress over health care, and the toxic use of social media are among the issues Rai addresses in her YA debut. Sonia's struggles are depicted with sensitivity and attention to detail that extend to supporting characters, though the main antagonist unfortunately comes across as a mean girl cliché. A well-balanced story poised between serious reality and romantic ideals. (Fiction. 13-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.