Boys Without Names

1 Aug

Boys Without Names written by Kashmira Sheth is a much more serious book than I have been reading of late, but it is an eye-opening fictional story about a real-life issue that still plagues the world.  The story is about an eleven-year-old boy named Gopal who moves from his rural Indian village with his family to Mumbai in order for his parents to find jobs and for his siblings and himself to go to school.  When a stranger offers Gopal a job in a factory Gopal jumps at the chance to help his family financially.

He later finds out that he has been sold into a sweatshop where and five boys work from dawn to dusk with little food and are given no wages.  They are not allowed to talk to each other or even call each other by their own names.  But Gopal, continues to hope that he will someday be able to escape the locked sweatshop.  He becomes close friends with the other boys in the sweatshop where they share kahanis, or stories about their lives before coming to the sweatshop and folk tales from their young childhood.

Child slavery is still a rampant issue in many parts of the world and this story is a realistic introduction to the horrors that many children face.  This would be an interesting unit in school to combine both fiction and current events.  A story worthy of reading for children in middle school with a character that never loses hope even when the conditions seem hopeless.

Kashmira Sheth has a great website that lists the other books she has written, discussion questions for some of her books, as well as information about India.  Sheth’s books have strong Indian characters and settings.  The Snowy Day written by Ezra Jack Keats was the first picture book to portray an African-American character.  Sheth’s books have strong Indian characters and settings that are familiar to Indian children and important for them to see in current literature.

Title: Boys Without Names
Author: Kashmira Sheth
Publisher: Balzar + Bray
Page Number: 320 pgs.

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