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Check It Out: They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us by Prachi Gupta.

This is Leah Erdmann with the Sioux City Public Library, and you’re listening to Check It Out.

Today, I’m recommending They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us by award-winning journalist Prachi Gupta.

Gupta’s debut memoir is structured as an open letter to her mother, giving reader’s vulnerable insight into her family’s past. At face value, the author’s Indian American parents personified the ideals of the American Dream, but as readers will come to learn, this facade came at a high price.

Gupta’s father, a doctor praised for his dedication to his field, ran their household with control and precision. His violent temper left no room for missteps, though his wife tried her best to keep it at bay. Prachi, a creative and free-spirited child, enjoyed hobbies and dreamed of careers her father refused to consider worthwhile. Her efforts to establish a unique identity were often met with harsh criticism and aggression. Yush, from his vantage point as the younger sibling, did all he could to avoid his sister’s mistakes and be the perfect child his father wanted.

As Prachi grew into adulthood, she sought to break free from her limited worldview and the pressure of expectations and stereotypes. This demanded not only that she deep-dive into sociological and psychological research to understand where these ideas came from, but that she bring her family and all their tightly held values into question. She found that the closer she grew to the woman and writer she believed she could be, the further removed she was from her family whom, despite everything, she loved and longed to be connected to.

Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere, said of the memoir, “It aims right at the tender spot where racism, sexism, and family dynamics collide, and somehow manages to be both searingly honest and deeply compassionate.”

Check out They Called Us Exceptional at the Sioux City Public Library!

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Verde Outdoor Media.

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