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Author: Kelkar, Supriya
In this historical middle-grade novel, Gandhi asks for one member of each family to join the fight for independence from the British, and when Anjali's mother is jailed for doing so, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother's work.
School Library Journal (+) (09/01/17)
Booklist (+) (09/01/17)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (00/11/17)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 09/01/2017 *Starred Review* Kelkar’s first middle-grade book is filled with female empowerment, hope, family, and the power of nonviolent resistance. It is a tumultuous time: India, 1942. India’s freedom fighters, led by Mahatma Gandhi, are trying to overthrow British rule. When her mother takes Gandhi’s teachings to heart, Anjali’s world is turned upside down. She balks at first as her mother joins the movement and makes the family participate in acts of protest, like burning their clothes or becoming friends with the lowest caste system, the untouchables. Anjali tries to make sense of it, gradually opening her mind to her mother’s place in the movement. As she learns about equality and civil liberties, riots erupt around her. When her mother is put in jail, Anjali has to decide if she has the emotional fortitude to practice Gandhi’s teachings and continue with the freedom movement. Drawing from her own family history, Kelkar doesn’t shy from the reality that progress is slow and that one must persist even when all hope seems gone. Readers will empathize with this heartbreakingly charming debut about the universal struggle of overcoming fears and biases in order to make the world a better place. - Copyright 2017 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 09/01/2017 Gr 4–6—Ten-year-old Anjali's comfortable life changes dramatically when her parents decide to honor Mahatma Gandhi's request that every Indian family give one member to the fight for freedom from British rule. Anjali's mother takes the active role, first learning to spin cotton on the charkha in order to make khadi, or homespun clothes, and teaching others to do the same. Her aspirations expand to helping the Dalit community, referred to with the pejorative "untouchables" by most in the town. It is Anjali's observation that the Dalit children in their town should be able to go to school, and Ma is determined to make that happen. The road ahead is not smooth, as violence breaks out between Hindus and Muslims in their town and across the country, and Ma and other freedom fighters are jailed unjustly for their efforts, though they follow the principles of "ahimsa," or nonviolent resistance. Anjali continues her mother's crusade to integrate their school, knowing that before she can change others' beliefs, she must first change her own. Inspired by the author's great-grandmother, this well-written, accessible middle grade debut is powered by strong, fully developed characters who make mistakes and learn over the course of the story. Anjali and Ma in particular, though well-intentioned, are guilty of several missteps, which make them even more realistic and relatable to readers. They learn that change is not easy or straightforward, and Anjali especially learns how important it is to recognize and confront inequality. VERDICT A historical, timely, and informative story that is full of heart and belongs in most library collections.—Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.