"Readers will be captivated by this beautifully written novel about young people who must use their instincts and grit to survive. Padma shares with us an unflinching peek into the reality millions of homeless children live every day but also infuses her story with hope and bravery that will inspire readers and stay with them long after turning the final page." (Aisha Saeed, author of The New York Times best seller Amal Unbound)
Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman's stirring middle-grade debut.
Life is harsh in Chennai's teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, 11-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter - and friendship - on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city's trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in, too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.
"Venkatraman’s middle-grade debut tackles sisterhood, chosen families, and loss.... Viji’s narration is vivid and sensory.... The novel also touches on social justice issues such as caste, child labor, and poverty elegantly, without sacrificing narrative. A blisteringly beautiful book.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
"Exquisitely narrated novel set in Chennai, India.... Venkatraman vividly sketches the group’s precarious economic situation.... This is a poignant portrait of love, sacrifice, and chosen family in the midst of poverty.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
“The four individual children and their tightknit relationship are portrayed with conviction and finesse. Written in the form of a letter from Viji to her sister, the affecting narrative transports readers to a faraway setting that becomes vivid and real. While the young characters face unusually difficult challenges, together they find the courage they need to move forward. The author of A Time to Dance, Venkatraman offers an absorbing novel of love, loss, and resilience.”(Booklist, starred review)
“In her stellar middle grade debut, Venkatraman brings compassionate attention to the plight of India’s homeless children... Venkatraman’s depiction of the streets of Chennai is a sensory experience. Her elegant prose tells a heartfelt, wholly captivating story while encouraging readers to consider larger issues including religion, poverty, and the caste system. An unforgettable tale of families lost, found, and moving ahead without leaving those they love behind.” (School Library Journal, starred review)
What members say
- Alice Rhodes
Grips the heart!
I had read this book in paperback form as an advanced copy. After reading the advanced copy I was excited when I saw it on audible AND read by the author when published! I have worked in India some and have a real heart for the country's people-particularly the children facing unimaginable hardships. Hearing the author read the book was wonderful after having read the advanced copy. The book is so good and so relevant to the situation facing so many children in India and I encourage people to read/listen to this book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
- Laurel S.
What a fabulous read!
This book touches on the tender subjects of loss, forgiveness, friendship and perseverance. I will recommend it to all of my middle school students. The subtle hints of child abuse as well as immersion into the Indian culture is a way to teach children about empathy and emotional IQ. I think that exposing our children to the vast economic disparity is imperative to help them understand people who are different from themselves!