Thursday, October 13, 2011

Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan

Gloria Whelan offers us a beautiful story of a young teen from 1918 struggling with her own truth. The story splits between India and England, England being where her parents are from and India being where her father is stationed as an officer with the British Army.

What surprised me most about this book reminds me of a saying I learned a few years ago when I visited Calcutta, India: same, same, but different. The tensions of teens are the same no matter the time period, and Whelan's way of shining light onto Rosalind's offered me a new way to think about girls then. As I read, I could imagine some of my nieces being ballsy enough to at least consider some of these actions. At one point in the story, Rosalind learns of how a baby was sold for food money. Beside herself, she takes her own money and goes to buy the baby back, of course from some disrespected and dangerous man. Rosalind is undeterred by his attempt to scare her; she knows what she must do and she does it. I won't spoil the story and tell you all about it but know that Gandhi plays an important role as do a couple of interesting aunts (I can imagine you rolling around my label of interesting as you read this book!).

The truth that someone can so convincingly know who they are and find their way to living within that truth at a time in history when children (yes, I use that label on purpose here since her parents obviously are fighting her growing up) are meant to be quiet and good and not be rabble rousers is a new idea to me. It makes perfect sense but I have not come across many recently-written books for that time period. I just love how Whelan frames Rosalind's life and how she lives through whatever trial sets in front of her.

Same, same, but different.


  1. Sounds amazing! I think it might strike a chord with some of the kids at Ron Russell Middle School--and of course, I am adding it to my list.

  2. Ruth, I think you will really enjoy this one. It has such a sweet, gentle, fierce pace, like the middle-school students whom we enjoy watching over and over. Let me know who enjoys it, will you?