India-born author Bharati Mukherjee has long used fiction to explore issues of identity and culture, often through displaced characters--Indians coming to the West (Jasmine) or Westerners heading to Asia (The Holder of the World). In Leave It to Me Mukherjee approaches the same issues from a fresh angle; protagonist Debby DiMartino grows up in a middle-class, Italian-American family in Schenectady, NY, yet she is "a tall girl in a small school, a beautiful girl in a plain family, an exotic girl in a very American town." Debby is adopted, abandoned as a baby by her American hippie mother and Eurasian father in India, where she was placed in a Catholic orphanage until the DiMartinos took her in. Growing up, Debby identifies herself by what she is not; at age 23, after a brief, disastrous love affair with a Hong Kong ex-movie star, she decides to find out what she is.
Debby's search for her birth parents takes her to San Francisco, where she lifts a new name off a vanity license plate and begins a new life as Devi Dee. Along with her old identity, Debby/Devi sheds her old conventions, becoming a "Tenderloin prowler, all allure and strength and zero innocence" as she lives out of her car in Haight Ashbury, befriends the crazy, the strung-out, and the paranoid who populate its streets, and begins her hunt for the woman who gave her life--a search that will lead Devi into an apocalyptic confrontation with a most unexpected demon. In Leave It to Me Bharati Mukherjee has created a hip, violent, and darkly funny look at what it means to be an American at the end of the 20th century.