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SARASWATI'S WAY by Monika Schröder


by Monika Schröder

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-374-36411-3
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Akash, in his seventh and last year of education in India, has a gift for math, finding patterns in numbers by using Vedic math, an ancient system of Indian mathematics. The Hindu boy prays to Saraswati, goddess of wisdom and knowledge, to help him raise money to hire a tutor and win a scholarship, but when the monsoon fails to bring rain to his family’s crops and his father dies unexpectedly, he is forced to work in their landlord's quarry. Quickly realizing that he will never pay off the debt, Akash runs away to New Delhi, where his experiences give an authentically gritty portrait of life on the streets. Homeless and hungry, he follows a group of boys, some sniffing correction fluid to forget their troubles, others gambling and dealing drugs. With the help of a kind newspaper seller, Akash realizes that Saraswati will only help him if he deserves it. Although most runaways’ lives turn tragic, the author mercifully offers a hopeful ending. This rare combination of math and culture is a boon for discussions and makes this stand out. (author’s note, glossary) (Fiction. 10-14)