Meena: the 'Me' of the story
This book is presented as a semi-autobiographical novel. This is really worth unpicking!
An autobiography is the story of one's life, written by oneself. So, we expect to read about events that are true as seen from the author's perspective.
How do the words 'semi' and 'novel' affect how we understand this?
'Semi' makes us take a step back. It implies that events may be wholly true, or partly true, or not true at all! And, 'novel' tells us that this is a work of fiction! So what do we believe?
The author, Meera Syal, is basing the character of Meena and her circumstances of growing up, on her own life, but is stepping back from claiming that any part of it is literally true.
The story is an act of creativity. One hint of this is in the character of Meena herself. She likes to make up stories - she enjoys embellishing the truth. She has a vivid imagination and at her age, in a small village, has no real output for her creativity.
As we read, we should try to keep in mind that connection between the author - adult Meera Syal - and her creation, Meena, based on some aspects of her young self. At times, it seems as if the adult is reflecting on the past.
Keep a close look out for those authorial comments!
You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples. These quotations are for reference only.