Friday, January 22, 2010

Boys Without Names (MG review)

Jacket description:
"For eleven-year-old Gopal and his family, life in their rural Indian village is over: We stay, we starve, his baba has warned. With the darkness of night as cover, they flee to the big city of Mumbai in hopes of finding work and a brighter future. Gopal is eager to help support his struggling family until school starts, so when a stranger approaches him with the promise of a factory job, he jumps at the offer.

But Gopal has been deceived. There is no factory, just a small, stuffy sweatshop where he and five other boys are forced to make beaded frames for no money and little food. The boys are forbidden to talk or even to call one another by their real names. In this atmosphere of distrust and isolation, locked in a rundown building in an unknown part of the city, Gopal despairs of ever seeing his family again.

But late one night, when Gopal decides to share kahanis, or stories, he realizes that storytelling might be the boys' key to holding on to their sense of self and their hope for any kind of future. If he can make them feel more like brothers than enemies, their lives will be more bearable in the shop—and they might even find a way to escape"

 I don't think there could ever be too many books written on the subject of child slavery. We need to make everyone aware of this horrific travesty that is happening all over the world, including our children. Author Kashmira Sheth takes a very troubling and traumatic subject and delivers it gracefully and will tact, leaving out graphic language or imagery and simply introducing events that some children really do go through.

The book contains and enthralling story, with a brilliant main character. I thought the overall book was a bit long, being slow in a couple of places, but for the most part completely had my attention and had me writing down names of kids I would recommend this to as soon as it hits shelves later on this month.

Read it aloud to your class, to your family, or just read it to yourself. Gopal's story is wonderfully told, yet heartbreaking.

Oooh and if you haven't before, pick of Sheth's Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet. It was published several years ago and I read it for a Children's Lit class, loving it.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5

Boys Without Names
Kashmira Sheth
320 pages
Middle Grade fiction
Balzer + Bray
January 2010
Review copy received from publisher

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Staci said...

Great review. Have you ever read Iqbal? This one is excellent and based on true events.

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

Thank you sooooo much for reviewing this! I hadn't heard of it, but I need to get it. I'm glad it was handled in a way middlge schoolers (or anyone for that matter) can handle the topic but not have it so graphic. Thank you again for this!

3T said...

I wonder if child slavery is becoming the 'new holocaust' - there suddenly seem to be a lot of books coming out on the subject, which is GREAT, but a tiny part of my brain worries that oversaturation can lead to anesthesation. Sometimes you get teens who go on a steady diet of Holocaust books, for example, and then at the end fail to be shocked by the same things happening elsewhere, because it has become so familiar to them.

At any rate, I will be ordering this one, because I want to read it if nothing else:)

Becky said...

This is a great review, and the book sounds really interesting. I think its important for novels to be written about topics such as these. Sometimes we need reminding of how lucky we are.