Sunday, June 9, 2013

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

All My Noble Dreams and then What Happens by Gloria Whelan -- Middle Grades Historical Fiction 

This sequel to Small Acts of Amazing Courage finds Rosalind and her family back in India. Rosy is happy to be back in the colorful country she cares about so deeply; Aunt Louise has found happiness and freedom in India and even Aunt Ethyl enjoys helping out at the orphanage. However, Rosy knows that her idyllic life is far from the common experience; most people in India are dreadfully poor and all are ruled by the British. A small man named Ghandi is struggling to free India from British rule through non-violent resistance. For his trouble, he is thrown in jail without access to pen and paper. Rosy's friend Max and his friend Raman publish the Young India newspaper, printing Ghandi's words for those who care to read them. Not many people do though so when the Prince of Wales comes to visit India, Max thinks it's the perfect opportunity to show the Prince Ghandi's list of British injustices. The only problem is: how to get it to him? When Rosy's family is given an entree to Society, it's up to Rosy to put Max's plan in motion. Will she have the courage to do it? She must for India's freedom is on the line. This is another beautiful historical novel by one of the best middle grade historical fiction writers of today. Gloria Whelan paints such a descriptive, incredibly rich and detailed picture of India that I couldn't help fall in love with it myself. She presents a lot of weighty issues in a way kids can easily understand. The characters all have different viewpoints on what should be done and how which helps the reader form their own opinion. Readers can also draw parallels to the American Revolution and Declaration of Independence. The story is interesting and Rosy continues to be a likeable but realistic character. She's unsure of herself and her place in the larger world but she's passionate and cares deeply for social justice. None of the characters are purely bad and offer up a variety of different personalities based on prejudices of their culture and time period. The plot veers into fantasy territory at times putting Rosy in real life situations with real people, something I don't really care for, but younger readers will probably enjoy it. The ending is left open for another sequel though I know India wasn't granted independence until 25 years after this story takes place. It's been a pleasure watching Rosy grow up and I hope there's at least one more book about her. This novel is a great history lesson that's fascinating and entertaining. I learned much more from this novel that I did from scholarly works about India's history! I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages 9+.

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