At 14, plucky and precocious Rasha moves to her grandmother’s rural village, where she transforms herself and her new community.
After Rasha’s parents divorce, her father leaves Bangladesh for Canada. Soon after, her embittered mother announces that she is moving to Australia—but she isn’t taking Rasha with her. Instead, she sends Rasha to live with her maternal grandmother—her Nani—who went mad with grief after Rasha’s grandfather’s murder. Instead of giving in to hopelessness, Rasha decides to craft a new life for herself. In the process, she develops a strength and resourcefulness that she uses to stand up for the children in her community. Among other adventures, Rasha, a gifted math student, and her friends stop a child marriage, get an abusive teacher fired, and build a boat to get to school during the region’s annual flood. Perhaps most importantly, Rasha solves the mystery of her Nana’s death during the Bangladesh Liberation War, thereby helping her Nani heal. The portrayal of rural Bangladeshi life is empowering and unsentimental, and the critiques of rural corruption, sexism, and other social ills—all of which the reader sees through Rasha’s eyes—are both sharp and devoid of condescension. Rasha’s sense of justice and her growing independence are a pleasure to witness and a refreshing alternative to the portrayal of oppressed South Asian girls and teens found in many Western novels.
A fast-paced adventure starring a strong, likable female protagonist. (translator’s note) (Fiction. 12-16)