I just finished reading Kavi's journal that tells all about her story! Here's a recap complete with illustrations, and a review of the story at the end!
This full-color illustrated journal tells the story of how Kavi was inspired by seeing the musical Wicked for her 12th birthday to enter her middle school's musical revue talent show, where all students are allowed to perform under one condition: students must be in good academic standing. Seventh grade has been a struggle for Kavi so far, and her brain is so hyperactive she can never sit down and focus, so she's been failing test after test, which she keeps secret from her parents and friends. And to make matters worse, she and her friends Sophie and Pari have been struggling to find a dance style that suits all of them for the revue. Kavi keeps thinking about the revue, which her parents approve of at first since Kavi hides her grades from them. She even struggles to not think about it a lot during Diwali, the most important Indian holiday of the year. But when her parents find out she keeps failing tests, they threaten to take either dance class or the revue away from Kavi, and her friends have their own concerns about their performance- Sophie doesn't know Kathak dance, which Kavi and Pari want to do, and Pari isn't confident about dancing in front of a crowd. With all of this stress in mind, Kavi's dad takes her to yoga class, which helps her destress her mind, and Kavi admits to her friends when they are studying for a science test about how her brain works and how she needs trouble focusing. Sophie and Pari come up with an idea to help Kavi remember the cloud formations she needs to know for the test: since she likes thinking about dance, they make up dances for each of the cloud formations. After they study, Kavi finally comes up with an idea for their performance: they will do a Bollywood routine that incorporates all of her friend's different dance styles. Kavi's study tactics earn her an A on her test, which makes her parents proud of her and allows her to perform with her friends in the school revue. Kavi does great, gets a standing ovation and even gets her annoying little brother Rishi to admit that she did something good.
Here are the illustrations from the book!
I really liked this journal! It was a very simplified version of Kavi's story, which I assume will go into more detail when her novel comes out in March, but it explores a lot of her interests, hopes, dreams and fears in seventy-ish short pages. Kavi was a very compelling and relatable character, and I can imagine a lot of girls will relate to her, especially neurodivergent girls like myself. Kavi has ADHD, and I have autism, so we kind of have the opposite struggles: it's hard for Kavi to focus, while I hyperfocus on things that I really want to do. But we both share the struggle of having to balance everything in our lives, and it was nice to see how Kavi was able to do that with the support of her family and friends. I also liked how it showed that being vulnerable about your struggles in life with the people you trust will end up benefitting you in the end, because sometimes I get frustrated with things and I don't tell anyone about it, but it helps when I tell someone. I can imagine many girls, especially girls of Indian heritage and neurodivergent girls, will relate to Kavi. I also really liked the approach to Kavi's storyline that they took: while on paper it seemed like McKenna's a little bit, the story was so unique and engrossing that those similarities seemed superficial. One thing I didn't like about this journal, though, was the Girl of the Year trope I hate the most: the friendship fight. It seemed like of shoved in with Kavi trying to figure out with her friends what they wanted to do and then they got mad about it. I wish American Girl could find ways to make more compelling subplots in their storylines without resorting to predictable plot devices that nearly every GOTY book has, but oh well.
I would give this journal an 8/10. It was very cute and I can't wait to read the full It's Showtime, Kavi, book in March!