The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When Viji and her sister Rukku run away from their abusive home, their situation is dire. The streets of Chennai are dangerous and cruel, especially as Viji must be extra vigilant due to Rukku's developmental disability.
But bolstered by small acts of kindness from Teashop Aunty, the girls find a home on an abandoned bridge and make new friends with two boys named Muthi and Arul. With their street dog companion Kutti, the four friends learn to survive by scavenging and sharing their resources. When the rainy season starts, the children must decide whether to seek help or fight for their hard-won independence.
The Bridge Home will break your heart and help it to mend. Venkatraman's lean storytelling is filled with raw emotion and it puts the reader directly into the lives of vulnerable children. The empathy on every page and the warmth of Viji and Rukku's found family provide a warm glow.
This story provides young readers with a framework for thinking about many difficult topics including abuse, homelessness, child labor, and grief. But each is handled with such humanity and care that every reader will come away with strength and hope.
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