If you've finished our "GMA" Book Club pick this month and are craving something else to read, look no further than our new digital series, "GMA" Buzz Picks. Each week, we'll feature a new book that we're also reading this month to give our audience even more literary adventures. Get started with our latest pick below!

This week's "GMA" Buzz Pick is "Gold Diggers" by Sanjena Sathian.

Sathian's debut novel is a coming-of-age story that skewers the model minority myth to tell a story about immigrant identity, community and the underside of ambition.

PHOTO: "Gold Diggers" by Sanjena Sathian.
Courtesy Penguin Press
"Gold Diggers" by Sanjena Sathian.

The story begins with Neil Naryan, a second-generation teen growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta. While he's pressured to follow in the footsteps of his older sister, who's headed to Duke University, and fulfill the expectations that his parents set for him, Neil just isn't as driven. In fact, the only thing on his mind is his neighbor across the cul-de-sac, Anita Dayal, the "golden child" of their community.

But Anita has a secret: her mother, Anjali, has been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewelry's original owner. Anita hopes the potion could give her a boost to get into Harvard. But when Neil joins in on the plot, events spiral into a tragedy that rips their community apart.

The story picks up 10 years later when Neil is a graduate student studying the California gold rush at the University of California, Berkeley, when he reunites with Anita. They rekindle their old habit of gold theft, only now, Neil, who is still fighting his community's expectations, finds that he might need one more hit of the potion, no matter the cost.

Combining adventure, magic and a dash of alchemy, Sathian's debut novel is a hilarious take on the meaning behind what it takes to achieve the American dream. It has also been optioned for a television series by Mindy Kaling's production company, where Kaling will executive produce and Sathian will be one of the writers.

"This novel is sweeping, it will take you from 2006 suburban Georgia to 2016 Silicon Valley, all the way to India and back in time to the California gold rush," Sathian told "GMA." "There are capers, heists and a lot of humor. But amid it all, 'Gold Diggers' is really an emotional story about two families that are new to America and just trying to feel at home here. I hope you enjoy."

Get started with an excerpt below!

PHOTO: “GMA” Buzz Picks: “Gold Diggers” by Sanjena Sathian
ABC News Photo Illustration, Courtesy Penguin Press
“GMA” Buzz Picks: “Gold Diggers” by Sanjena Sathian

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When I was younger, Anita and Anjali Dayal were held in perfectly fine favor at my house. Our two families mingled pleasantly; as a latchkey kid whose mother was less prolific in the kitchen than Anita's, I often let myself into the Dayals' house to rummage around in the fridge. The key beneath the watering can behind the azalea bush was mine to use. Our parents—the four brown adults in a largely white subdivision—collaborated to create a simulacrum of India in a reliably red Georgia county.

But over the past few years, Anita's father, Pranesh Uncle, had grown conspicuously absent, discomfiting the other desi mothers. No one pronounced words like separation; it was stated only that Anita's father was working in California, where he had founded a company with his classmates from the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology. The official reason for Anita's father living across the country while her mother remained in Hammond Creek was the daughter, and a desire not to interrupt her schooling. Which is why my mother was overtaken by a frisson of judgment when I came home at the end of May, weeks after Spring Fling, with the news that Anita would be leaving Okefenokee and, in fact, interrupting her schooling.

"California?" my mother said.

I could almost see the RE/MAX realty signs in her eyes as she dreamt of an open house, overdone chewy sugar cookies and fruit punch and information on the neighborhood's property values. My mother adored open houses, their mild festivity, the red balloons, the way the houses were held in presentational limbo—vacuumed carpets and potpourri in the powder rooms—until the owners' current unsatisfactory life had been traded out for a better one.

"To Buckhead," I said.

Anita had been accepted to a posh private school in Buckhead, one of the neighborhoods inside the perimeter. The perimeter, referring to Interstate 285, which neatly locked the suburbs away from Atlanta proper, was one of those things to which my mother sometimes mystically referred while in that open house headspace—a state of mind that I swear caused her very large ears to droop and soften, implying that she was listening to something otherworldly, something more splendid than terrestrial gossip. Someday, we might live inside the perimeter, she suggested. My father scoffed; in Hammond Creek we were close to my parents' jobs, good public schools, and other immigrants. Inside the perimeter, he grumbled, were crumbling houses that white people would spend a million bucks on because they seemed Margaret Mitchellian.

Anita's destination was a school I'd faced at debate tournaments a few times. They never failed to intimidate, showing up with four coaches from the best college teams huddled around them. They strutted about in blazers and ties and pearls and heels, while we mopped our sweat with our swamp‑green Okefenokee High School T‑shirts. Her school sat near the long low lawns of country clubs and the governor's mansion. Its female students would be debutantes, and its alumni seemed— from my position outside its brick‑winged gates, anyway—to waltz into Harvard and Princeton and Vanderbilt and Georgetown.

It made sense. Anita's only plan in life, as long as I had known her, was to attend Harvard. What followed Harvard was a vaguely crimson‑tinged blankness; Harvard was sufficient, would propel her into some life thereafter. The first step in achieving that life seemed to be leaving Hammond Creek, Okefenokee High School, and me.

Anita and I had been avoiding each other since Spring Fling. She now traipsed around the hallways ensconced in Melanie Cho's pack, making it impossible for me to catch her eye. But I had not forgotten the dance. I wondered if by ditching me—or by stealing a queen bee's coveted piece of jewelry?—she had completed some hazing ritual. I sought signs of change in her. Did her hair shine more than it used to? Had she grown lankier? I looked for her on AOL Instant Messenger, one of our regular sites of communication. She logged on only once. I began to type: wtf where u been? Then I deleted it, trying the softer, r u mad @ me? I cleared that out, too: sup, I wrote. Then came the heartrending sound of a door slamming. She'd signed off. Her avatar never reappeared. I guessed she'd blocked me.

So I did not learn the news about the school from her, but from Shruti Patel. Shruti was in all the gifted classes, and already taking Advanced Placement Physics as a freshman. She told me during Honors American History, the only class where she did not regard me as a flailing moron. (I liked English and history and scraped by in most other subjects.)

"How do you know?" I whispered as Mr. Finkler handed back the previous week's tests.

"Ninety‑four, good job," Shruti said. Mr. Finkler had written the number in red and circled it twice on my blue book. She waved hers.

"Ninety‑eight," I conceded.

"Her mother told my mother at Kroger," Shruti said. "I didn't even know she was applying to private schools."

I shrugged.

"You didn't know either?" Shruti pressed. "Aren't you two, like . . ." And she pulled an appalling face, aping something she had seen on television, a knowing‑teenage‑gossip face.

Desperate to put a stop to the way she was pouting her lips and raising her eyebrows, I said, "No, definitely not," and it was true—we weren't, like, anything. Not anymore.

Anjali Dayal did not work in the way my parents worked. My mother was a financial analyst. My father spent eight hours a day on his feet, in a white coat behind the counter of a Publix pharmacy. He had suffered years of study for that job, in India and in America, but in my eyes as a kid, I had a father who "worked at the grocery store." When I said that once in front of my mother, I was swatted on the butt and duly corrected. My father was a pharmacist. The word clunked in my mouth—but never again would I say he worked at the grocery store.

Anita's mother, on the other hand, would tell you she ran a "catering business." She filled in for working Indian mothers who wanted to serve their families proper home‑cooked fare but who lacked either the time or the skill in the kitchen to do so. Occasionally she would do a graduation or birthday party, but for the most part, Anjali Auntie answered calls placed in response to flyers she hung up at the temple and in Little India strip malls—those two‑story off‑the‑highway structures housing Kumon math tutoring centers and restaurants called Haveli or Bombay Palace or Taste of India and threading salons where women pruned themselves of excess ethnic hair. She drove all over the suburbs and did much of her cooking in other people's homes, as though the women hiring her wished to think of her the way they thought of the help back in India. To admit that the prettier, younger mother was the "proprietor of a small business" would have been strange and modern and white.

Surely Anjali Auntie did not need this job—based on everything my mother said about Pranesh Uncle, money was flowing from the West Coast. But she did it nonetheless, perhaps because she was afraid, herself, of being left to do godknowswhat.


From "Gold Diggers" by Sanjena Sathian. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Sanjena Sathian, 2021.