by Irfan Master

Summary

School Library Journal:

Gr 5–9— It is the summer of 1947 and India is to be partitioned. Tensions are mounting between religious factions and violence is reaching even the smallest villages. Thirteen-year-old Bilal’s beloved father is dying, and since he is convinced the news would kill him even more quickly, Bilal decides to lie about the political situation. With the help of his three closest friends, he keeps well-wishers, family friends, even his radical brother at bay, all to “save” his father the grief of knowing the truth. Master’s writing is lovely and descriptive. He expertly conveys the poverty of Bilal’s village. Readers can smell the mangos in the marketplace, as well as the filth, and taste the dust in their throats. But the tale is not all dark; the author captures the joy of being with friends and family, playing tricks on people, and laughing-all things that people of any socioeconomic status can enjoy and relate to. Since the story is told through Bilal’s eyes, readers begin as he does, not completely understanding the reasons for the partition and violence surrounding it. As the tale progresses and readers share his experiences, the situation becomes a bit clearer, though it is never crystalline. The book’s pace is slow, perhaps reflecting the pace of life in a poor village. With its unusual historical point of view, this novel is great for thoughtful readers who will give it the consideration it deserves.—Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT –Geri Diorio (Reviewed October 1, 2012) (School Library Journal, vol 58, issue 10, p145)

Awards:

  • USBBY Outstanding International Books – Grades 9-12: 2013

Topics

5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, Family, Historical Fiction, Partition of India, Teen