In 1942, when Mahatma Gandhi asks Indians to give one family member to the freedom movement, ten-year-old Anjali is devastated to think of her father risking his life for the freedom struggle.
But it turns out he isn't the one joining. Anjali’s mother is. And with this change comes many more adjustments designed to improve their country and use "ahimsa"non-violent resistanceto stand up to the British government. First the family must trade in their fine foreign-made clothes for homespun cotton, so Anjali has to give up her prettiest belongings. Then her mother decides to reach out to the Dalit community, the “untouchables” of society. Anjali is forced to get over her past prejudices as her family becomes increasingly involved in the movement.
When Anjali’s mother is jailed, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother’s work, ensuring that her little part of the independence movement is completed.
Inspired by her great-grandmother’s experience working with Gandhi, New Visions Award winner Supriya Kelkar shines a light on the Indian freedom movement in this poignant debut.
|Publisher:||Lee & Low Books, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Supriya Kelkar was born and raised in the Midwest. She learned Hindi as a child by watching three Bollywood films a week. After college she realized her lifelong dream of working in the film industry when she got a job as a Bollywood screenwriter. She has credits on one Hollywood film and several Hindi films. Ahimsa, inspired by her great-grandmother's role in the Indian freedom movement, is her debut middle-grade novel. Supriya still lives in the Midwest with her husband, their three children, and a very hyper dog.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ahimsa is a debut novel for Supriya Kelkar, and is based on the experiences of her great grandmother, who had joined Gandhi's Freedom Movement so her husband could continue working, much the same way Anjali's mother did. I found Ahimsa to be a very interesting novel about social injustice in 1940s India that covers quite a lot of historical and political ground, some of which may not be familiar to young American readers. But, Kelkar has taken great pains to make this important period in Indian history accessible, although at times she waxes a little on the didactic side when it comes to describing the political situation. One of the things I did like is that Kelkar has included a lot of interesting, personal details in her narrative descriptions, including what daily life was like, the kinds of clothing people wore, the food they ate, games kids played and holidays celebrated as well as accounts of living conditions of someone in the Brahmin class, the basti where the Dalits lived, and even a bit about how the members of the British Raj (rulers) lived. These are the kinds of details that really work to bring a story to life. The other thing I liked is that Kelkar has written flawed characters who learn from their mistakes. Anjali's mother is an enthusiastic freedom fighter, so enthusiastic that she can't see better alternatives to some of her actions, and sometimes not listening to the very people she is trying to help. Even Anjali is flawed, at first not really understanding what her country is going through, but slowly becoming more enlightened, though no less feisty and headstrong, which can and does get her into trouble. Even Gandhi and some of his ideas are presented as somewhat flawed, as Anjali discovers the more involved she becomes in the Freedom Movement. Ahimsa is a very readable novel and a nice introduction to the Freedom Movement in India. It is also a novel about trying to make a difference, about social injustice, and about resistance, and although these themes are put into the context of Indian history, they will certainly resonate with today's young readers. Be sure to read the Author's Note for a detailed overview of this period in Indian history and the leaders involved in it. Kelkar has also included a list of books for Further Reading and a very helpful glossary. Although it's for slightly older readers, think about pairing Ahimsa with Padma Venkatraman's Climbing the Stairs for another view of India's fight for independence.