By People Staff
September 08, 1997 12:00 PM

by Bharati Mukherjee

Throughout her life, Debby DiMartino has been told she is as American as spaghetti and meatballs. But for the 23-year-old adopted child of an Italian clan in Schenectady, N.Y., that simply isn’t enough. Indian novelist Bharati Mukherjee—whose The Middleman and Other Stories earned the University of California at Berkeley English professor a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1989—charts DiMartino’s struggles as she scornfully jettisons the middle-class American dream to travel to San Francisco in search of her hippie mother and her father, listed in adoption papers only as “Asian National.”

What starts out as an excavation of roots becomes a far-fetched, psychedelic journey through the meaner side of San Francisco’s free-loving past. Like many adopted children, Debby, who rechristens herself Devi (the Hindu goddess of Divine Justice), rightfully hungers for answers even as she constructs a new persona. But rather than developing into a lyrical exploration of the self, Leave It to Me challenges us to sympathize with an angry young woman whose overwhelming sense of entitlement leads her to play judge and jury, devouring all in her quest for a new identity. (Knopf, $23)