Thursday, June 23, 2011

Small Acts of Amazing Courage (MG/YA)

Small Acts of Amazing Courage. Gloria Whelan. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages.

How can kindness get you into so much trouble? It started when Mother dropped into sickness and I was left on my own. No, before that, when the war came and Father, a major in the British Indian Army who led a battalion of Gurkha Rifles, went off to the war. The battalion was sent to fight in countries I had never heard of and whose names I couldn't spell.

Set in India immediately following World War I, Small Acts of Amazing Courage is the coming-of-age story of our heroine, Rosalind, who grew up with a little too much freedom to be a 'proper' lady. Or at least a proper English lady. Rosalind prefers to spend her time with her best friend, Isha. Isha has picked up English, and Rosalind has picked up Hindi. These two love to go to the bazaar. Rosalind isn't allowed--by her father, at least--to go. And Isha, well, Isha--though the same age as Rosalind, is already a married woman; her husband has a stall at the bazaar. Her mother hasn't been feeling the best, so Rosalind has spent the past year or so making her own rules. When her father returns, he's worried. He fears that he'll never be able to make a proper lady of her if she remains in India. She needs some polishing. She needs decorum. She needs to learn a little discipline and obedience.

But. Her mother pleads for Rosalind to be allowed to stay. But there are a few incidents--you might just call them small acts of amazing courage--that lead her father to make the ultimate decision. His daughter goes. No matter what his wife says. No matter how much his daughter pleads. No, she'll go to England to live with her two aunts. End of story.

Except that isn't the end of the story at all. For Rosalind will go on encouraging small acts of courage right there in England under the nose of her oh-so-bossy aunt. One of her aunts has spent her life being bullied. And with Rosalind's help, freedom may come at last!

Of course, that is only half the story. For Rosalind and Aunt Louise's fight for independence mirrors that of India. Readers learn about Gandhi and his followers who were making a non-violent stand of their own.

Readers might also want to read Padma Venkatraman's Climbing the Stairs.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Fourth Musketeer said...

I enjoyed this, but didn't find the ending very satisfying. Do you think the author is planning on a sequel?

hopeinbrazil said...

This sounds really interesting. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

T.S. Welti said...

I love when a character arc is mirrored in something greater happening in the story. It sounds like a good read.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I am a big fan of Gloria Whelan and did not know she has a new book out. Thanks for a great review!

dfsoccerplayer said...

I loved this book but the ending wasn't what I expected or hoped for at all. I hope that Gloria Whelan will write a sequel because this book was well written and fun to read. I would certainly read the sequel if one was to be written.