MG & Up
Chaya is our protagonist and Robin Hood-esque figure, stealing from the rich and distributing it to folks in her village who need to pay for medical care, food, or other emergency costs. When she can’t resist breaking into the palace for some jewels, it sets off a chain of events that starts with breaking her friend out of prison and stealing an elephant to flee into the Sri Lankan jungle to (relative) safety.
Chaya is a fierce and powerful character, and I really like that she shows true character growth throughout the ordeal. Chaya hides in the forest with her best friend, Neel, and their new friend Nour, who is the daughter of a wealthy businessman. The trio navigate class differences, survival, and friendship while reeling from the growing understanding of the consequences of what has just occurred.
If you’re looking for an own voices MG novel with a strong girl who loves the outdoors, this is the book you need to pick up! Chaya has strong convictions about right and wrong, and will go to the ends of the earth (or jungle) to see justice prevail. The book was kindly sent by Peachtree Publishing, but all opinions are my own.
Nizrana Farook was born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the beautiful landscapes of her home country find their way into the stories she writes. She has a master’s degree in writing for young people, and lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two daughters.