Boys Without Names

Kashmira Sheth, Author . HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray $15.99 (316p) ISBN 978-0-06-185760-7

When 11-year-old Gopal's family tries to escape crushing debt by leaving their village in India for his uncle's home in Mumbai, Gopal is eager to help earn money, especially after his father disappears. Gopal is fooled by the promise of a factory job and ends up a slave in a small shack with five other boys he must nickname because none is allowed to say his name. Suffering a under a cruel boss, Gopal slowly unites the boys though storytelling, with each boy reclaiming his past and his name. Sheth's (Keeping Corner ) lush prose (“It is as if someone has rubbed this rough sack on my heart over and over again and made it bleed”) creates a vivid portrait of slave labor without losing the thread of hope that Gopal clings to. Though certain lines of dialogue seem improbable (“The promise was like a rose, but what I got was one big thorn of a boss”), the characters are strong and believable, with Gopal being particularly relatable. The happy ending may be slightly unrealistic but nonetheless satisfies. Ages 9–12. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/21/2009
Release date: 01/01/2010
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-199188-2
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-0-06-185761-4
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-0-06-185762-1
Prebound-Glued - 316 pages - 978-1-68065-002-0
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