This was a charming friendship-and-family based story with a central magic-realist premise and bonus elements of natural history and music.
Kai and Leila are different girls from different parts of the USA. Kai has recently discovered that she will never achieve her dream of becoming a concert violinist and Leila’s perfect sister Nadia has usurped her place in her erstwhile best friend’s affections. Leila is on vacation in Pakistan (where her father’s from) while Kai spends the summer with a distant great-aunt she’s never met. Both girls find a copy of a book named the Exquisite Corpse on the shelf of their holiday home and begin to read the tale which appears in it page by page. Leila’s story feels somewhat underwritten compared with Kai’s–perhaps because the magical tale told by the book is more closely connected with Kai’s own story. Nevertheless this is a cute, fun, magical read featuring a middle-class Pakistani family and a mixed-race girl as one of the protagonists and how often do we get to experience that? 8+