It’s not easy having your identity cut across two continents. In rural Maine, Muna hides under baggy, thrift-shop jeans and a pulled-up hoody, tired of comments about her “exotic” looks. Muna’s mom is white and American, and apparently her dad is Tamil and from South India. Her parents met in India, where Muna was born, but within a week of her birth, Muna’s dad disappeared. Or so the story goes. Muna has never met her father, and though her verbose mom generally won’t stop talking, she keeps mum on two subjects: the identity of Muna’s dad and any information about their family’s past in India.
But then Muna turns sixteen and starts having orange-tinted nightmares set in India. There’s always a man (her father?), a lakeside temple, and children dressed in lotus crowns. In every dream something is terribly wrong—people are about to die, the town will be flooded—and only Muna can save them. Muna decides her father needs her—the haunting dreams are calling her to India—but as a math geek she knows all too well that the odds of finding her dad are slim to none.
After writing 28 letters pleading for a scholarship, Muna wins acceptance for her senior year to an international boarding school in Kurinji, the magical Indian mountaintop town where she suspects her father grew up. Here Muna finds friends and acceptance, discovers the man she believes to be her father, applies her math skills as a fair-trade tea activist, and experiences first love. But in Kurinji Muna’s orange-tinted dreams also come alive with disturbing connections to the town’s origin story: a story wrapped up in the whims of the Hindu sun god, a flower that blooms only every twelfth year, and the mysterious children from her nightmares.