English & some Hindi
Woah, this book covers a lot of topics in both history and culture. Set in British-occupied India in the late 1850’s, main character Meera is caught up in both the violence of colonization and her extremely conservative family values. She was married to her husband Krishna at the age of 4, and her 13th birthday is approaching rapidly. This birthday means she’ll have to go live with Krishna and his family, which is something she is not interested in. Something Meera is particularly upset about is her father’s belief in sati: the tradition that a wife sacrifices herself on her husband’s funeral pyre upon his death. After witnessing the death of her aunt years before due to sati, Meera questions how the practice can still be so deeply entrenched in her misogynist father’s values.
The day of her birthday, Meera wakes up to the news that Krishna was killed in a riot between Indian citizens and the British colonizers. More than relieved, Meera believes she can now stay with her family. Instead, her father insists she commit sati that very day in order to not bring disgrace onto both families. Meera flees, and becomes even more caught up in the rapidly changing political climate.
Meera links up with a ragtag band of humans, and ends up working as a servant for an affluent British military couple. Meera focuses on saving money to buy her own property, but is eventually torn between focusing on her own goal of freedom and joining the collective fight for freedom of all Indian citizens from the British. Definitely worth a read, there is also a ton of historical information within the story, and in the back of the book. I really enjoyed reading a book about occupied India from the perspective of an Indian teenager, and the breadth of historical information was emotional and educational.
This book was kindly sent by Lee and Low, but all opinions are my own.
Supriya is an author, illustrator, and screenwriter who grew up in the Midwest, where she learned Hindi as a child by watching three Hindi movies a week. Winner of the New Visions Award for her middle grade novel AHIMSA, (Tu Books, 2017), Supriya has worked on the writing teams for several Hindi films, including Lage Raho Munna Bhai and Eklavya: The Royal Guard, India’s entry into the 2007 Academy Awards. Supriya’s books include AHIMSA, THE MANY COLORS OF HARPREET SINGH (Sterling, 2019, illlustrated by Alea Marley), AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2020, (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2020) STRONG AS FIRE, FIERCE AS FLAME (Tu Books, 2020), BINDU’S BINDIS (Sterling, 2021, illustrated by Parvati Pillai), and THAT THING ABOUT BOLLYWOOD (Simon and Schuster BFYR, 2021). She is the illustrator of Jyoti Rajan Gopal’s AMERICAN DESI (Little Brown 2022). Supriya is represented by Kathleen Rushall at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and Kim Yau at Echo Lake Entertainment for film/TV rights.