Skip to main content
by Padma Venkatraman


From Publishers Weekly

In this exquisitely narrated novel set in Chennai, India, 11-year-old Viji and her sister, Rukku, run away from their abusive father after he breaks their mother’s arm and hits Rukku. On the city streets, the sisters find shelter by a bridge, adopt a stray dog, and meet brothers Mathu and Arul, who quickly become a kind of family to them. Venkatraman (A Time to Dance) vividly sketches the group’s precarious economic situation—the boys teach the sisters how to scale trash mountains for saleable metal and glass, a drunken waste man threatens them—and the care they take with one another as they face the rainy season and illness. Viji also attends to her sister, who discovers new independence on the streets, such as a gift for beadwork that makes them money. The narrative is told in a letter from Viji to Rukku, the writing of which, readers gradually learn, is Viji’s way of handling deep grief. This is a poignant portrait of love, sacrifice, and chosen family in the midst of poverty. Ages 10–up. (Feb.)


5th Grade, 6th Grade, Ages 9-12, Family