Redefining Immigrant Identity

There is Roti in my Lunchbox

“There is Roti in my lunch box” is a story about Neha, a 6-year-old second generation Indian-American girl, who is trying to understand why the food in her lunch box is always so different from what her friends bring. In her attempt to understand the cultural diversity around, she explores her own complex identity: She expresses her need to feel part of the community she finds herself in, eat the food her friends eat and not feel singled out; but at the same time, she wants to accept and feel pride of her unique cultural heritage.

… and everyone stares. What is THAT?
There is roti in my lunch box.
I love to eat roti and vegetables at home, but no one at school knows anything about rotis.
Everyone starts laughing. They all call my food funny.
I never want roti for lunch again.

Neha’s character is a part of many American households. It is the story of a perceptive and sensitive young child caught between two cultures, and of parents trying to help her craft an identity that is whole and complete. This book touches on issues not typically addressed in picture books, and fills an important void in children’s literature for this group of children who are particularly vulnerable to feeling marginalized and different.