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by Padma Venkatraman


School Library Journal:

Gr 7-9- In 1941, 15-year-old Vidya’s life in Bombay stands in direct contrast to that of her relatives in Madras for whom the traditional path of an arranged marriage, babies, and a life of serving a husband is not only expected but is also considered a girl’s only proper option. Alternately, the goal of attending college like her brother is encouraged by her physician father. Turmoil is raging within Colonial India’s borders as many view their British occupation negatively, holding protest rallies. Nonviolence, one of Vidya’s father’s principles, motivates him to secretly attend to the injured and beaten protestors. The teen’s idyllic life changes in an instant when he is beaten by the British police and suffers extensive brain damage. Unable to earn a living and lead a productive life, this highly respected man and his family move in with his relatives. Vidya’s dreams are shattered as her father’s stature is immediately lowered to that of “an idiot” and she is forced to withstand her aunt’s sharp-tongued, abusive taunts. Vidya’s bright, bold, independent character remains determined to achieve her goals with the help and support of her grandfather, who first allows her access to his private library and later agrees to her formal university education. This is a poignant look at a young woman’s vigilance to break from expectations and create her own destiny amid a country’s struggle for independence. Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI –Rita Soltan (Reviewed May 1, 2008) (School Library Journal, vol 54, issue 5, p140)


  • Amelia Bloomer Lists – Young Adult Fiction: 2009
  • Booklist Editors’ Choice – Books for Youth – Older Readers Category: 2008
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2009


7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, Family, Teen, Women's Rights