It’s been a while since I’ve posted a book review on the blog (my last one being September of last year to be exact). It hasn’t exactly been a high priority on my “to do” list lately for several reasons. I keep thinking that I should just stop them all together but then I get the urge to want to write something for the blog and this is one of the first things that I can think of. And I figure that someone is probably reading it so whoever is, this is for you.
Anyway, I just have the one book to report on this time around. It’s called Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar, and it’s a historical fiction children’s novel about India in the 1940s.
Author: Supriya Kelkar
Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction
Pages: 289 (307 if you count the acknowledgements, author’s note, the small glossary and the reference page for further reading)
It tells the story of 10 year old Anjali, an Indian girl, who, with her family, works to help free India from British rule, as they occupy the country around this time. And while contentions between the British and the people of India rise high, other such contentions among the natives are also pretty heated. The book describes tensions between Hindus and Muslims as well as the people who fall into the different castes that India has. Caught in the conflict, Anjali risks losing those who are important to her; her best friend, who is Muslim, her mother who gets imprisoned for speaking out for what is right, and her friends and neighbors, many of whom frown down upon her when she makes continued efforts to bring in kids from the lowest caste, into her school. The story really helps bring the reader into Anjali’s world and allows them to see her struggle for freedom, as well as that of her whole country.
Overall, I thought the story was well written and the author really brought to life each character, particularly the main character. You get a sense of what each character is about and see a bit of character development in some of them. For example, one of the antagonists, Captain Brent, a British officer, has several encounters with Anjali. When we first meet him, he is seen as an apathetic, hard nosed kind of man. Anjali strongly dislikes him in the beginning and the feeling is mutual of him towards her. But as you continue to read, Brent seems to have a change of heart. And while still not appearing to “like” Anjali or any of the people of India, towards the end of the book, you see that he begins to respect her, which is quite a rewarding thing to see from the reader’s point of view. And thanks to some basic foreshadowing used by the author, you can see what events led up to this. And this, in turn, sort of helps solidify Anjali’s maturity and growth; earning the respect of someone who initially thought very little of her.
So it is a nice story. I read it fairly quickly and was really drawn into the story. Historical fiction generally does this to me, particularly if it’s about something that I am interested in, which I am in this case. I think the author could have carried it a bit further as I felt that it ended a bit abruptly. Another chapter or two or an epilogue would have been nice. But for a children’s book, it wasn’t bad. I give this one a 4 out of 5.
That’s all I have for now. I’m working on a few other books right now, which I hope to be able to present next month. I hope to do better with my reading record this year so that means a review once a month, at least. Maybe I’ll be able to squeeze in a couple in one month! We’ll see. And be sure to check out Salazar’s blog, 14 Shades of Grey, who is also doing book reviews today and see what she is reading.