Tamarind and the Star of Ishta by Jasbinder Bilan

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Tamarind, her father, and new stepmother are on their way to India, for Tamarind to meet and stay with her late mother’s Indian family while her father takes his new wife away on honeymoon. Needless to say, Tamarind isn’t keen on the idea of being dumped with people she’s never met for a whole week. The journey to the family house in the foothills of the Himalayas takes forever and Tamarind is amazed to see such a large house, compared to their small one in Bristol. She knows this is the house where her mother Chinty, grew up, her grandmother, Aunt Simran, Uncle Ruben, and cousins Kamaal, Arjun & Sufia still live there.
Tamarind is hoping to find out about the mother she never knew, but every time she brings the subject up, no one wants to talk about it. Storming off in a huff one day she discovers a hut in the very large garden. She’s been told not to enter but when she finds a hidden key the temptation is too much. So unravels the story of Chinty, Tamarind’s mother who died very young, and the clues that she left behind. Finding the Star of Ishta and a willing little helper called Hanu, the truth is gradually uncovered.
Once again Jasbinder has transported us to another part of the world, with wonderful descriptions of the house and a very large garden with all its secrets along with all the smells & colour of the local food. I also loved the map and the family tree as added extras. Who doesn’t love a map?
If you loved Asha and the Spirit Bird, buy, borrow and read this now, you won’t be disappointed.

Book Review: Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan –

Asha and her family live in the foothills of the Himalayas. Her father has gone to work in  the big city, to earn more money for his family. But nothing has been heard from him for months. No money has arrived and debt collectors are bullying Asha’s mother. Asha and her best friend Jeevan decide they have to do something and that involves finding her father. Armed with an address in the big city, they run away, to travel to the temple at the head of the Ganges, to pray for help and then on to the big city. It isn’t an easy journey, but they have help in the form of a lamagaia, a bearded vulture, which Asha believes is the spirit of her grandmother,  who has passed away.

Full of adventures including a close encounter with a snow tiger, this is a wonderful debut novel. The descriptions of the Himalayas, from the foothills to the temple at Karase, the noisy chaos of the big city, Zanapur, all come together beautifully.

Jasbinder Bilan is a graduate of the wonderful creative writing MA at Bath spa university.

I can remember her coming into the children’s library in Bath a few years ago and telling me she was starting a new adventure at Bath Spa University and going to take an MA in creative writing. Well that adventure has created Asha and Javeen and brought us the smells and colours of Asha’s mother’s cooking.