Sunday, November 7, 2010

Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth

Set in Indian, Boys Without Names tells the tragic story of eleven year old Gopal and his family. The story deals with a family who are fighting to survive when their livelihood is taken away from them as a result of weather and a series of bad debts. When they flee their village in the middle of the night, they head for Mumbai hoping for a better life.
Along the way, they are faced with unknown places and strangers, but they know that in Mumbai, there is family waiting for them.
Gopal wants nothing more than to stay in his village, and yet he is intrigued by what he might find in Mumbai. He is the one who is able to read street signs and deal with merchants on their travels. He is also the one who is asked to amuse his twin brother and sister along the way.
Once in Mumbai, Gopal wants to earn money for his family. He wants to go to school, but knows that can't happen for a few months. When he is offered the chance of a job, he jumps on it, but soon makes the biggest mistake of his life. He wakes to find himself a captive of a man who forces children to work for no wages, little food and no warmth or compassion.
What follows is the story of how one boy learns the sad truth of child labour.

This book was incredibly moving. To read of Gopal's life in rural India and how his family is forced to make the painful decision to leave. Then, his life in captivity seems very real and honest. Throughout this story, Gopal tells traditional stories to his younger brother and sister and to the children he is kept captive with. The tradition of telling stories is very important to Gopal and he is able to take a lot of strength from the stories. Gopal as a character is likable and believable, his strength and resilience is very motivating.
I think this is an important book for children to read. There are so many issues that kids aren't aware of and it is great to have a story that could open up their eyes to things that are happening around the world.

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