AWARD WINNING FINALIST
INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS
Opening Paragraph..."The memory of that moment hit me like a surging ocean wave - drawing me into it - the sour smell of darkness, those sobs erupting like an echo from a bottomless pit. I had tried to break away from it for so long I had forgotten that places can have memories too. I stood in the dimly lit corridor outside my childhood home and tried to unlock the door. The keys rattled in my hand and fell to the floor. This was proving to be more difficult than I had thought. One deep breath and you will find the courage Papa used to tell me when I was a child. Now, in my mid twenties, here I was, standing outside this locked door, feeling like a child once again."
Synopsis: A sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993. India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room. Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family. Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.
Review by Mirella Patzer
Heart-wrenching, poignant, powerful, thought-provoking are just a few words that help to describe this amazingly poignant story. It is a tale of two girls, Mukta and Tara, born in different Indian social castes who live together in childhood. Later, unwarranted blame comes between them and Tara blames Mukta for her mother's death. At the same time, the lower caste girl, Mukta, is kidnapped and sold into prostitution, torn from the only family where she found love and safety. As time passes, they grow into womanhood. When Tara learns a family secret, she searches for Mukta to make amends.
What resounds most in the story are the themese of forgiveness, faith, hope, and love. It makes a powerful statement for the plight of young girls sold into slavery/prostitution. This is truly a profound novel that left me reeling in thought for days afterwards. I can see why it has won international acclaim. An amazing story. Highly recommended.
Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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