Meera is the daughter of a Punjabi couple who live in the village of Tollington. They seem to be the only Asian in this village and source of great wonder for the inhabitants of the village. Meera because she has grown up in this village seems to be more part and parcel of the village, not an oddity but it is mainly due to the fact that like most immigrants, no one wants to stand out - they want to assimilate and get on with their lives in the quietest way possible.
Like most children of immigrants Meera is torn in two. Does she go the way of the parents - respectful, traditional, listening above all to everything her parents tell her or does she go the independent way of her peers. The person whom Meera wants to most ape and befriend is the brassy Anita and she becomes Meera's "particular" friend and mentor. What Anita wants Anita gets and Meera follows her blindly until a rather gruesome end. The meaning of love and friendship, betrayal which at this age becomes so hard and finally bereavement hits Meera hard.
The coming of age of Meera and Anita, the tough choices faced by families like Meera's parents trying to tread a path between tradition and the new ways (always hard - this my personal experience!!!), and at the same time to bring up your children in a "right way" is this story. It is in a way a coming of age story of the parents as well.
I have watched several TV presentations of Meera Syal and thought the book was as light hearted as those shows. The book is certainly hilarious at times but overall it is a serious look at life.