Aru Shah of Atlanta, Georgia, is a seventh-grader and social misfit.
While her classmates jet set around the world, Aru spends her holidays at home with her curator mother in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture. But one day, three of Aru’s classmates show up at her doorstep and dare her to light the cursed Lamp of Bharata. When Aru lights the lamp, she releases the Sleeper from his slumber and must—with the help of her newly found soul sister, Mini, and their pigeon sidekick, Subala, or “Boo”—go on a quest to stop the Sleeper from awakening the Lord of Destruction, who will, in turn, end the world. Aru and Mini’s adventures range from discovering that they are the reincarnations of the Pandava brothers (demigods and the protagonists of the Hindu epic poem the Mahabharata) to slaying demons and shopping at the Night Bazaar (effectively disguised as Costco). In her middle-grade debut, Chokshi (The Star-Touched Queen, 2016, etc.) spins a fantastical narrative that seamlessly intertwines Hindu cosmology and folklore, feminism, and witty dialogue for an uproarious novel for young readers. For readers of Indian origin, especially, the novel presents a culture that is not often seen—or accurately represented—in mainstream children’s and young adult literature.
Chokshi comes into her own in this novel, reminding readers of the power of language and of stories. (Fantasy. 8-12)