TITLE: Tara and the Friendship Theorem
AUTHOR: Chitra Soundar
PAGE EXTENT: 126
PUBLISHER: Puffin Books
GENRE: Middle Grade
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
SOURCE: Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Tara and her best friend, Farida, are experts at the traditional Indian game of Pallanguzhi. But when Tara’s family relocates to the UK, Tara has to say goodbye to her best friend. Who shall she beat at Pallanguzhi now?
As Appa and Amma get the new home ready, Tara and her brother check in to a weekend retreat, Camp Wilderness. Wow. Do Tara’s parents even know who she is? She’s more what you’d call an indoorsy person, with her love of coding and maths.
To distract herself from all the trees and animals and general wildlife – shudder – she sets out to find a new friend. No one can ever replace Farida, but Tara’s determined to find someone almost as awesome. This is the perfect opportunity to test her Friendship Theorem!
Maths has never let Tara down before – surely it can help now? But as Tara applies her theorem at Camp Wilderness, could she miss a friendship that is blossoming right under her nose?
It should come as no surprise that friendships are my favorite aspect of Middle Grade books and a book with ‘friendship’ in the title itself which revolves around making new friends? Sign me up already!
Tara and her family move to the UK from Chennai and she is not one bit happy about having to leave her bestie Farida behind. When her parents enrol Tara and her brother, Kapil in a Wilderness Camp in the woods, Tara makes it a point to use the Friendship Theorem from a book gifted to her by her grandmother(also called the Professor) and test it out at the camp, while making a new best friend in the process. Will Tara find the said best friend? Will the Friendship Theorem work? Is it foolproof? Read the book before I end up spilling the beans!
Reading a book with a nerdy, geeky protagonist made my heart swell with joy! 10-year-old me would have squealed with delight while reading about someone who is proud to be a nerd! This made me want to leap into the pages of the book and give Tara a nice, warm hug!
Full disclosure: I am someone who has detested maths since the very beginning, to the extent of mugging up entire derivations and regurgitating them all out on the exam paper(shhhh)! Not only does this book have fun math factoids at the beginning of every chapter, it also made me realise how maths can be fun too! Did you know that 3 is the only prime number preceding a square, or that 7 is the only prime number preceding a cube?
The entire story revolves around friendship and how friendship can be logical and not at the same time. No two friendships are the same and at times, friendship transcends logic too. Follow Tara on this journey of discovering what it means to have a friend and how sometimes, some of the best friendships you make in life lie just outside your comfort zone! Annada Menon’s adorable illustrations peppered throughout the book only make the reading experience better!
I am all for mental health rep in books: there are times when I have added an extra star to my rating simply because the mental health rep is executed perfectly, and needless to say, this book is one of them! Having lived with severe anxiety for quite a while now, the discussions of anxiety and therapy in this story and how they formed the basis of friendships had me beaming with joy! #friendshipgoals! Mental health representation is so important in Middle Grade and I can’t emphasise this enough. Kudos for the same, Chitra Soundar!
Pallanguzhi(called Alaguli Mane here in Karnataka) is a game that originated in South India and forms an integral part of the story. Reading about it took me back to my crèche days where we had a pallanguzhi board with tamarind seeds as counters! #nostalgia 🥺
This book was indeed a breath of fresh air! If you’re in a reading slump which you’re struggling to get out of and want to lighten your mood with a fun, cute read, this is right up your alley! Visit the woods of England with Tara and get to know Millie, Chloe, Toby, to name a few, because “Strangers are friends we haven’t come to know yet”! 😉