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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman's stirring middle-grade debut. Life is harsh in Chennai's teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter--and friendship--on an aba…

The Bridge Home

by Padma Venkatraman

Overall Book Review:

When I read the first few chapters of The Bridge Home, my first inclination was to get out the box of Kleenex as I was going to be crying my way through a sad book.  And I wasn’t wrong…but what I also found was a novel full of forgiveness, hope, and endurance that left me in a state of wonderment at the human spirit and its resiliency.

Viji and Ruuku are two Indian sisters who hail from an abusive home.  Ruuku is developmentally disabled and Viji, her sister, often feels like her protector.  After a particularly bad incident at home, Viji decides it would be better for the girls if they leave home and live on their own then to continue to be subjected to their father’s abuse.

On the streets, Viji and Ruuku form a family and face many obstacles:   hunger, safety, warmth and shelter–just to name a few.  Throughout the book these characters continue to show the resiliency of a human, and that hope can be what one lives on.  When Ruuku becomes ill, Viji must decide who she can trust and, in the end, must come to terms with guilt, loneliness, and whether dreams can come true.

While this book does deal with some very mature and tough topics, it is written in a very conservative manner that should make parents of young readers comfortable.  The language is clear and relatively easy to understand with a glossary of Indian terms provided which I found very helpful.  The author states characters and situations were based on real life events which is probably why they all seem so incredibly believable.  Overall, an inspiring read for young and old that is a great springboard to conversation.

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Nancy Paulsen Books

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  None

Violence and Gore:  Husband breaks wife’s arm and hits child in 1-page depiction of spousal and child abuse; child hits adult in head with wooden doll; children push and shove each other; men chase children scaring them and destroying their belongings; child recalls being beaten; children die from dengue fever.

Sex and Nudity: None

Mature Subject Matter:

Socioeconomic conflict; spousal and child abuse; alcoholism; homelessness; poverty; developmental delays; stealing; child labor.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adult is alcoholic (does not state what he drinks).

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I am a full-time mom, full-time wife, and overtime reader. I have been an avid reader for as long as anyone can remember. It must run in the family because both my mother and grandmother are also voracious readers and often pass books back and forth. Almost any genre can spark my interest, but I often go in streaks, reading a bunch of books from one genre, then switching to another for a while and back again.