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 resistance—to 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.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a Physical copy of the book by Scholastic India in exchange for an honest review. However, all the thoughts, feelings and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Ahimsa is an enthralling look at the Quit India Movement or the Freedom Movement of the Indians against the British Empire in the 1940s.
Told in the perspective of a 10 year old privileged Indian girl; Anjali – who is secure in the knowledge of being a Brahmin kid, who gets the best dresses and is the apple of her parent’s eyes. Her best friend is Irrfan; a Muslim boy, and that makes okay for Islam doesn’t really have a caste system.
Everything in her perfect world starts to splinter when her mother leaves her cushion-y job with Captain Brent in the British Army – and decides to join in the Freedom Movement. Her confusion at the world around is easy to understand and definitely empathize with, for all that she has always taken at face value, the world she has believed to be right; is now slowly proving themselves to be wrong. It was amazing to see how Anjali took everything she has been told and to connect it with the world that she is now living in.
I loved how the author shows the growth of character in Anjali – from believing what she has always been told; to deciding what is right for herself through her own experiences – her confusion, her reluctance was as real as it gets.
This book is a definite recommendation for any young kid or even teenager (and I do believe, that some adults could also definitely use it!) to not only understand their legacy but also know that the path to be kind and humane isn’t easy; but it is definitely worth every second of struggle.
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