Sheela Chari
age group: 
12+ yrs
Number of pages: 
musical instruments teenage angst

Neela belongs to a typical Indian family settled in the USA. She does all the things that girls of Indian origin are encouraged to do, which includes playing an Indian instrument. But in this case, it is quite an uncommon one – a veena.

However, she is having a tough time learning, what with strings breaking, false notes and to add to it all – stage fright!
One day, her grandmother from Chennai, India sends her a beautiful old antique one and that somehow gives Neela more confidence. But soo, strange things begin to happen. The ancient veena opens up Pandora’s box. It is stolen and that sets Neela off in trying to unravel the mystery of who stole it and why?
Soon, she realizes that there were many people who were after the veena. What was its secret? Why were so many people after it? Who were they? Was there really a curse on it?

The writer through this exciting whodunit thriller, has successfully woven in a lot of information on what a veena is, how it is made and also something about the music.
The story moves at a clipping pace, keeping the tension taut and yet embraces other aspects of a teenager’s life – such as issues with friends, trouble with teachers, over-protective mother and so on.

All in all, a very satisfying read.

Reviewed by Shamim Padamsee