Set against the backdrop of India’s fight for independence, Neela does the same. When her father doesn’t return home from a trip to join Mohandas Gandhi’s peaceful civil disobedience movement, Neela disguises herself and takes to the road to find answers. This twelve-year-old is more than a match for the adults she meets in the crowded streets of Calcutta.
I loved the rich cultural and historical references woven into this story. Neela’s sister is preparing to marry and Neela isn’t the same traditional girl dreaming of a husband. She embraces the heart of the freedom fighters but not so their actions. She finds refuge with a wealthy family, cousins to her new friend and sees a side of the class divide she hadn’t witnessed so starkly in the countryside. Unfortunately, this is a stand alone tale, but I would’ve loved to have revisited Neela.