The story of Meena, growing up in the only Punjabi family in the Black Country mining village of Tollington, from award-winning screenwriter Meera Syal.
This hilarious novel is a set text for GCSE WJEC and Edexcel.
It’s 1972. Meena is nine years old and lives in the village of Tollington, the jewel of the Black Country’. She is the daughter of Indian parents who have come to England to give her a better life. As one of the few Punjabi inhabitants of her village, her daily struggle for independence is different from most. She wants fishfingers and chips, not chapati and dhal; she wants an English Christmas, not the usual interminable Punjabi festivities but more than anything, she wants to roam the backyards of working-class Tollington with feisty Anita Rutter and her gang. Blonde, cool, aloof, outrageous and sassy, Anita is everything Meena thinks she wants to be. Meena wheedles her way into Anita’s life, but the arrival of a baby brother, teenage hormones, impending entrance exams for the posh grammar school and a motorcycling rebel without a future, threaten to turn Anita’s salad days sour. Anita and Me paints a comic, poignant, compassionate and colourful portrait of village life in the era of flares, power cuts, glam rock, decimalisation and Ted Heath. It is a unique vision of a British childhood in the Seventies, a childhood caught between two cultures, each on the brink of change.
‘Tom Sawyer meets Cider With Rosie en route to India via Wolverhampton. A wonderful book – treat yourself.’
‘Funny, moving and packed full of wonderful surprises.’
‘This is a funny, sad book. It made me long to be a kid again, yet grateful I’d grown up.’
‘Anita and Me is full of pleasure. Syal is as skilful at rendering the saucy, ballsy backchat of the Tollington women as she is at describing Meena’s “uncles and aunties”, her parents’ Indian friends. The book is expertly structured and engagingly written, illuminated throughout by Meena’s ironical irreverance and robustness of spirit. I can give it no higher recommendation.’
Laura Tennant, Guardian
Free resources for this title: