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The Bridge Home
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The Bridge Home
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"Readers will be captivated by this beautifully written novel about young people who must use their instincts and grit to survive. Padma shares with us an unflinching peek into the reality millions of...
"Readers will be captivated by this beautifully written novel about young people who must use their instincts and grit to survive. Padma shares with us an unflinching peek into the reality millions of...
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Description-

  • "Readers will be captivated by this beautifully written novel about young people who must use their instincts and grit to survive. Padma shares with us an unflinching peek into the reality millions of homeless children live every day but also infuses her story with hope and bravery that will inspire readers and stay with them long after turning the final page."—Aisha Saeed, author of the New York Times Bestselling Amal Unbound
    Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman's stirring middle-grade debut.
    Life is harsh in Chennai's teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Ruku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter—and friendship—on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city's trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover 1
    TOGETHERNESS

    Talking to you was always easy, Rukku. But writing's hard.
    "Write her a letter," Celina Aunty said, laying a sheet of pa­per on the desk. Paper remade from wilted, dirty, hopeless litter that had been rescued, scrubbed clean, and reshaped. Even the pencil she gave me was made from scraps.
    "You really like saving things, don't you?" I said.
    Crinkly lines softened her stern face. "I don't like giving up," she said.
    She rested her dark hand, warm and heavy, on my shoulder.
    "Why should I write?" I said. "It's not like you have her address."
    "I believe your words will reach her," Celina Aunty said.
    "We're opposites," I said. "You believe in everything and everybody. You're full of faith."
    "Yes," she said. "But you're full, too. You're full of feelings you won't share and thoughts you won't voice."
    She's right about that. I don't talk to anyone here any more than I have to. The only person I want to talk to is you, Rukku.
    Maybe writing to you is the next best thing.
    If you could read my words, what would you want me to tell you?
    I suppose you'd like to hear the fairy tale you'd make me tell every night we huddled together on the ruined bridge. The story that began with Once upon a time, two sisters ruled a magi­cal land, and ended with Viji and Rukku, always together.
    That story was made up, of course.
    Not that you'd care whether it was true or not. For you, things were real that the rest of us couldn't see or hear.
    When I finished the story, you'd say, "Viji and Rukku to­gether?"
    "Always." I was confident.
    Our togetherness was one of the few things I had faith in.

    2
    ROTTEN FRUIT


    You always felt like a younger sister, Rukku. You looked younger, too, with your wide eyes and snub nose. You spoke haltingly, and you hunched your shoulders, which made you seem smaller than me, though you were born a year before.
    Born when our father was a nice man, I suppose, because Amma said he was nice. Before.
    Imagining Appa "before" took a lot of imagining. I was a good imaginer, but even so, I couldn't imagine him all the way nice.
    The best I could do was think of him as a not-yet-all-the-way-rotten fruit. A plump yellow mango with just a few ugly bruises.
    I could imagine our mother picking him out, the way she'd pick fruit from the grocer's stall, choosing the overripe fruit he was happy to give her for free. I could see Amma looking Appa over, hoping that if certain foul bits could be cut away, then sweetness, pure sweetness, would be left behind.
    Because Amma did choose him. Their marriage wasn't ar­ranged.
    Somehow he charmed her, charmed her away from her family, with whom she lost all touch. They were ashamed, she told me, ashamed and angry with her for eloping with someone from an even lower caste than the one she'd been born into.
    It was all she ever said about her family. Not their names or where they lived or how many brothers and sisters she had. Only that they wanted nothing to do with us. And Appa's fam­ily—if he had one—didn't seem to know we existed either.
    Sometimes I wonder if they might have helped us if they'd known. But maybe they'd have done nothing, or acted like our neighbors and schoolmates, who did worse than nothing. Who sniggered or made rude comments when we walked past. Com­ments that upset you so much you stooped even lower than usual, so low it looked like you wanted to hide your head inside your chest....

About the Author-

  • Padma Venkatraman was born in Chennai, India, and became an American citizen after attaining a Ph.D. in oceanography from The College of William and Mary. She is also the author of A Time to Dance (IBBY selection, ALA Notable, CCBC Choice, Notable Books for a Global Society winner, and South Asia Book Award Honor Book), Island's End (ALA Best Book of the Year, ALA/Amelia Bloomer List selection, and CCBC Best Book), and Climbing the Stairs (Julia Ward Howe Award, Bank Street Best Book, YALSA BBYA selection, Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and CCBC Choice).

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Author Padma Venkatraman narrates her own work, displaying the depth of feeling and caring between 11-year-old Viji and her 12-year-old intellectually disabled sister, Rukku. They flee an abusive home only to face new vulnerability in the city of Chennai when their money is stolen and they must live on the streets. Venkatraman describes the developing bonds as the sisters form a new family with two homeless boys while all of them desperately search a garbage dump to find salable scrap. In particular, Venkatraman portrays how Viji's controlling relationship with her sister turns to tenderness and respect as Rukku's necklace making supports them. Venkatraman's Indian accent adds to the tone and setting, but it's the range and believability of emotions that will draw listeners into Viji's journey from despair to hope. A great family listen to launch important conversations. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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