I received the book Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar as a review copy from the publisher, Scholastic. This book is the story of 10-year-old Anjali whose mother leaves the family to become a freedom fighter.
Can one girl make a difference in the destiny of a nation? It is 1942 and 10-year-old Anjali’s mother has joined India’s freedom struggle. Anjali gets unwillingly involved in the turmoil. She has to give up her biases against the Dalit community, or the so-called untouchables, and sacrifice her foreign-made clothes for khadi. When her world turns upside down, will Anjali be able to overcome her internal struggles and summon the courage needed to complete her mother’s social reform work? Inspired by her great-grandmother’s experience working with Gandhi, Supriya Kelkar brings to life the stories of the unsung heroes of India’s War of Independence.
Ten year old Anjali lives in pre partition India. The British are ruling India and their official treat Indians as inferior to them. This is also the time when Gandhiji is leading the non-violent protests all over the country.
Anjali lives in a society that is divided on the basis of caste system. She belongs to the higher caste, the Brahmins, and this entitles her to a beautiful house and beautiful clothes. Her mother works for a British Official, Captain Brent in the British Army and when she stops going for work, the feisty young girl presumes that he has hurt her. Anjali decides to avenge her. This leads to an act of vandalism for which she is caught.
Anjali has a great love for her lehenga cholis and when her mother tells her that she is joining the freedom struggle, Anjali is horrified. She cannot bear to think of her mother risking her life and she, herself, does not want to give up her expensive lehenga cholis for the homespun khadi.
But along the way, as Indians fight for their freedom, Anjali comes to realise that khadi isn’t so bad after all. And maybe, just maybe, sacrificing her privilege is worth it to be a part of the revolution.
The cover is beautiful. The plot is the freedom struggle from the perspective of Anjali, the ten year old girl. The scenes have been described in detail.
The author has woven a beautiful tale, combining Indian history with the story of a feisty young girl determined to prove her point. Anjali is a likable girl, and I loved her throughout the book. Hats off to the author on such a marvellous, well crafted middle grade book.
This book is recommended for young and old alike. A beautifully written debut. Will look forward to more books from the author.
DISCLAIMER: I received the book as a review copy from the publisher, SCHOLASTIC, in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.