Age Range: 13 - 15
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A half-Indian, half-Irish girl finds her past on a trip down the Ganges. Anila is the daughter of an Irish businessman and his Bengali mistress in 19th-century India. Anila, a gifted painter, has been ward to (real-life) painter Thomas Hickey and friend to Hickey’s daughter. But when the Hickeys move to Madras, Anila stays in Calcutta. Only in Calcutta, she believes, will she find her long-lost father, who years ago left for Ireland promising to send for Anila and her mother. She has been with the Hickeys since her mother’s death, killed by shame after becoming another white man’s mistress. Now Anila seeks work. Painting birds for a British naturalist on a Ganges journey, she learns about her homeland, her family and herself. It’s unfortunate that Anila’s protectors and mentors are all white; otherwise the novel thoughtfully explores race relations in the Company Raj through the eyes of a mixed-blood teenager. Nonetheless, Anila’s story is a heartwarming, rich, believable coming-of-age. (Historical fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3916-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2008