Fighting for Tara by Sunanda J Chatterjee

ab99b-fftI received the book Fighting for Tara by Sunanda J Chatterjee as a review copy from the author as a part of the blog tour by The Book Club. The book is the story of Hansa and her daughter Tara set in Rajasthan, India and USA.

The Blurb:

How far will a mother go to save her child?

“I have no use for a baby girl. Get rid of her tonight!” He towered over her as she cringed in fear.

But Hansa, a thirteen-year-old child-bride in rural India, refuses to remain a victim of the oppressive society where a female child is an unwanted burden. Instead of drowning her baby, Hansa escapes from her village with three-month-old Tara.

Hansa soon discovers that life as a teenage mother is fraught with danger. But a single lie opens the door to a promising opportunity far from home.

Just seven years later, Hansa finds herself fighting for Tara’s life once more, this time in an American court, with a woman she calls ‘Mother.’

Will the lie upon which Hansa built her life, defeat its own purpose? How can she succeed when no one believes the truth?

A story of two mothers, two daughters and a fight to save a child, Fighting for Tara explores the depth of love and motherhood.

The story:

Eleven year old Hansa is married off to a sixty year old man Gyanchand Rathore, Gyani, of Dharni village in Rajasthan. He lets her grow crops, keep her goats and learn to read and write. Rani Champavati, the wife of Thakur Surendra Pratap Singh, gives her lessons in reading, writing and math in exchange for a glass of goat milk.

When she is thirteen and has a three month old daughter, Tara, Gyani dies and she has to marry, Baldev, Gyani’s brother as per the customs. But Baldev tells her to kill Tara because he has no use for girls. But Hansa cannot do it and armed with Tara’s milk bottle, the money she has, a gold coin which was a gift from Rani Sahiba, the locket with the secret chamber that Gyani bought her and the urn containing Gyani’s ashes, she ties up Tara in Gyani’s turban and runs away in the dark of the night.

She takes a bus to Kota, immerses her husband’s ashes in the river, keeping a pinch of it in her locket, takes a bus to Jaipur where she meets Chachi, who runs a home for widows and their children. When she comes to know of her intentions, she runs away from there and she lands up in an orphanage in Delhi and lies to the owners that Tara is her baby sister and that they lost their parents in a fire. The ‘sisters’ are adopted by a childless American couple, Liam and Anne Stewart and move to USA.

There she meets Vikram Singh Rathore, Rani Sahiba’s grandson, who used to hate her in Dharni. He recognizes her but for some reason, unknown to her, keeps her secret. Vikram had migrated to the US with his family from Delhi and is still finding his feet. She meets Wolfgang Olaf, a boy from a broken family, who hates his father because he thinks he is the one who is responsible for his mother leaving them.

They lead a happy life for seven years but, circumstances demand that she speak the truth. Will she do it or will she take her secret with her to her grave? Read on…..

My take:

The cover is beautiful but the story is much more beautiful, the language simple and the book is fast paced and gripping. The flow is excellent that it was impossible to keep the book down. Hansa was in my thoughts every waking moment as I really wanted to know what becomes of her. The characters have been penned beautifully and every character, even the supporting ones have an important role to play in the story. They are so real. Wolfgang Olaf, his parents, Vikram, Rani Sahiba, Sabina, Anne, Liam all have an important role in Hansa and Tara’s life.

Hansa is brave and courageous, protective when it comes to Tara, understanding, helpful and a lot more. Even though Hansa lied to get through, I still did not put her in the wrong. The story has touched on a lot of emotions, like maternal love, friendship, insecurity, religious beliefs, trust, innocence and faith. The brawls, the fights, the tantrums have been realistically described. My favourite scene was the court scene. I was actually crying at the end of it.

I loved the book and want to read more from the author.

A marvelous story. A must read. Highly recommended.

DISCLAIMER: I  received a free e-copy of the book from the author in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

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