One sometimes wonders why very few Indian books for children deal with the struggle for Independence and its imapct on families. And then along comes, a historical fiction, a poignant story set in 1939 in pre-independent India.
Neela lives an idyllic life in her little village of Shona Gram in Bengal. Things change dramatically for her when her father leaves for Calcutta to participate in a freedom march to protest against the British rule. When he does not return twelve year old Neela decides to set off in search of him. The story moves from a tiny village in Bengal to the city of Calcutta of yore, where she is helped by her friend, Samar, also a freedom fighter. They learn that he is to be deported to the Andaman Islands where the British usually sent their political prisoners - sometimes never to return. During the search for her father she meets many other freedom fighters and realizes the sacrifices made by myriads of people who had decide to take on the mighty British empire in their desire for freedom.
Divakaruni has beautifully converted a piece of India’s history – a subject rarely dealt with in children’s literature into an informative, entertaining and gripping story and is sure to give the child an understanding and appreciation of the long and difficult the road that led to India’s Independence.
A must read for every student.