The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

The Bridge Home is the 2019 children’s novella by Indian American author, Padma Venkatraman. The paperback edition pictured was published by Penguin books. It received the 2020 Golden Kite Award and was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Middle Grade and Children’s novels in 2019.

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Bridge Home is best described as an uplifting juvenile fiction novella about finding hope in the depths of despair. It raises awareness of the widespread poverty and homelessness affecting many young children in India today.

Viji and Rukku are poor low-caste sisters who live with their parents. Their father is an abusive man who constantly assaults their mother and by extension, them. Viji, the younger of the two convinces Rukku, who has a learning disability that they should run away from home and start a better life in the city. But they soon learn that life on their own can be tough, until they meet two fellow homeless boys, Arul and Muthu, and learn of their stories of loss and suffering. The four children form a close bond and go on adventures, whilst also trying to survive each day.

This book does a fantastic job of bringing its characters to life and developing the recurring theme of friendship. I was moved by the injustice of the children’s situation, but I also felt hopeful after reading this book as it not only challenges issues of caste-based discrimination and inequality but it also speaks about finding kindness and a sense of family in an otherwise unforgiving world.

The Bridge Home is a deeply effecting and accessible story that can also be appreciated by adult readers. It’s only 194 pages with mercifully short chapters and can be easily read in one sitting.

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

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