Review of The Door Is Open: Stories of Celebration and Community by 11 Desi Voices

The Door Is Open: Stories of Celebration and Community by 11 Desi VoicesThe Door Is Open: Stories of Celebration and Community by 11 Desi Voices
edited by Hena Khan
Intermediate, Middle School    Little, Brown    336 pp.
4/24    9780316450638    $17.99
e-book ed.  9780316450836    $9.99

Focused on a community center in the fictional town of Maple Grove, New Jersey, this powerful collection of short stories celebrates the broad diversity of middle schoolers from the South Asian community, commonly referred to as desi. Over the course of the eleven interrelated stories, protagonists celebrate major life events, holidays, and the more mundane at the community center. The dilapidated building serves as the focal point for a heavily Asian American community but is also a target of xenophobic opportunists, who use coded (and sometimes overt) language to try to shut it down. “Together at the Center” by Khan, “Out in the Open” by Rajani LaRocca, and “The Map of Home” by Sayantani DasGupta showcase the importance of open dialogue, community, and speaking out against anti-Asian/South Asian and Islamophobic incidents. Mitali Perkins’s “Smile Number Seven” and “Answered Prayers” by N. H. Senzai address in-group judgment, both real and perceived, ethnic and religious; resulting self-defense mechanisms are handled with nuance and care in relation to single-parent households, disability, and domestic violence. Back matter includes a note from Khan and contributing authors’ bios.

From the March/April 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Ariana Hussain

Ariana Hussain is a teacher librarian at the Blake School in the Minneapolis metropolitan area. She writes for Kirkus and School Library Journal and is a founding member and blogger for Hijabi Librarians ( She is a lifetime member of APALA.

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