I am a sucker for books where the author frames realistic life challenges through truth and trial, where the character finds ways to stand deeply grounded within their identity and integrity with honor and conviction. Monika Schroder must be too, given how she wrote this book. Over and over, Schroder wove hope into the challenges of growing up homeless and penniless in a place where it appears that it must be easier to give up the fight.
Young Akash' father dies, leaving his family saddled with enormous debt. Akash goes to work for the man whom they owe money to, only to learn that the owner is taking advantage of him. Akash' brilliant math brain tallies within seconds of seeing the pay ledger how monumental his task is and how at the current rate, he would never be able to pay off the debt. Knowing that his math skills are just waiting to grow in ability and money-earning in the future, Akash steals away in the night, hitching his dreams of honoring his family on his academic strengths and gifts. Hardships follow Akash, but he keeps his wits about him, finding ways to negotiate the trials of street life in Delhi. He finds people who can support him sprinkled amidst folks who seek to take advantage of him, and he pursues his dream to once again attend school with a fervor.
One of the pieces I loved the most about this book lies within the characters. The author seems to know India well(she teaches in New Delhi), and she well knows the power of the male gender within the Indian culture. I applaud her decision to realistically include males whom both torment and support Akash, and as I read, I was aware of my own quiet searching for positive male role models for this smart young man. I enjoyed the way Akash maintains his focus on Saraswati, Goddess of knowledge and wisdom in the Hindu culture. What I enjoyed the most was the smooth reading storyline and the way Schroder writes. I will seek out her first book from the library and can't wait to read her new book that comes out this fall.