9 young adult books about South Asian main characters:
(book descriptions are from WorldCat; links go to Barnes & Noble)
Sita’s Ramayana by Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar (Groundwood Books, 2011)
This version of the The Ramayana is told from the perspective of Sita, the queen. It is an allegorical story that contains important Hindu teachings, and it has had great influence on Indian life and culture over the centuries.
Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda (Disney Hyperion, 2009)
Fifteen-year-old Billi SanGreal has grown up knowing that being a member of the Knights Templar puts her in danger, but if she is to save London from catastrophe she must make sacrifices greater than she imagined.
Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009)
Nina Khan is not just the only Asian or Muslim student in her small-town high school in upstate New York, she is also faces the legacy of her “Supernerd” older sister, body hair, and the pain of having a crush when her parents forbid her to date.
What I Meant by Marie Lamba (Random House Children’s Books, 2007)
Having to share her home with her demanding and devious aunt from India makes it all the more difficult for fifteen-year-old Sang to deal with such things as her parents thinking she is too young to date, getting less than perfect grades, and being shut out by her long-time best friend.
Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2009)
In the days and weeks following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Samar, who is of Punjabi heritage but has been raised with no knowledge of her past by her single mother, wants to learn about her family’s history and to get in touch with the grandparents her mother shuns.
Karma by Cathy Ostlere (Razorbill, 2011)
In 1984, following her mother’s suicide, 15-year-old Maya and her Sikh father travel to New Delhi from Canada to place her mother’s ashes in their final resting place. On the night of their arrival, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated, Maya and her father are separated when the city erupts in chaos, and Maya must rely on Sandeep, a boy she has just met, for survival.
Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera (Albert Whitman, 2011)
Six months after the events of September 11, 2001, Khalid, a Muslim fifteen-year-old boy from England is kidnapped during a family trip to Pakistan and imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he is held for two years suffering interrogations, water-boarding, isolation, and more for reasons unknown to him.
First Daughter: White House Rules by Mitali Perkins (Dutton Children’s Books, 2008)
Once sixteen-year-old Sameera Righton’s father is elected president of the United States, the adopted Pakistani-American girl moves into the White House and makes some decisions about how she is going to live her life in the spotlight.
Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet by Kashmira Sheth (Hyperion, 2006)
Growing up with her family in Mumbai, India, sixteen-year-old Jeeta disagrees with much of her mother’s traditional advice about how to live her life and tries to be more modern and independent.
The House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staples (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008)
An unexpected death brings Shabanu’s daughter, Mumtaz, and nephew, Jameel, both aged fifteen, to the forefront of an attempt to modernize Pakistan, but the teens must both sacrifice their own dreams if they are to meet family and tribal expectations.