Boys without Names by Kashmira Sheth

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For eleven-year-old Gopal and his family, life in their rural Indian village is over: We stay, we starve, his baba has warned. With the darkness of night as cover, they flee to the big city of Mumbai in hopes of finding work and a brighter future. Gopal is eager to help support his struggling family until school starts, so when a stranger approaches him with the promise of a factory job, he jumps at the offer.

But Gopal has been deceived. There is no factory, just a small, stuffy sweatshop where he and five other boys are forced to make beaded frames for no money and little food. The boys are forbidden to talk or even to call one another by their real names. In this atmosphere of distrust and isolation, locked in a rundown building in an unknown part of the city, Gopal despairs of ever seeing his family again.

But late one night, when Gopal decides to share kahanis, or stories, he realizes that storytelling might be the boys' key to holding on to their sense of self and their hope for any kind of future. If he can make them feel more like brothers than enemies, their lives will be more bearable in the shop—and they might even find a way to escape.


About Kashmira Sheth

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Kashmira Sheth is the author of the picture books Monsoon Afternoon and My Dadima Wears a Sari, as well as the award-winning young adult novels Blue Jasmine and Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet. She lives in Wisconsin.
Published December 31, 2009 by Balzer + Bray. 325 pages
Genres: Travel, Children's Books.

Unrated Critic Reviews for Boys without Names

Kirkus Reviews

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Although the shocking conditions the boys endure are vividly and realistically depicted, this effort is overlong for the recommended audience of nine through 12, and many readers may give up before they reach the portion of the narrative where Gopal is imprisoned.

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Publishers Weekly

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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.

Dec 21 2009 | Read Full Review of Boys without Names

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