NEELA: VICTORY SONG (2002)
"Vande Mataram!' The song of the freedom fighters is ringing in the countryside. It is 1939. In the little village of Shona Gram in Bengal, Neela hears about how the freedom fighters will stop at nothing till they send the British back. The day after her sister's wedding, her father decides to go to Calcutta and join a protest march called by the Congress. He promises to be back in a week. But when three weeks go by and there is still no sign of him, Neela decides to take matters into her hand. Dressed as a wandering minstrel, she arrives in Calcutta. There she befriends Bimala, the rich daughter of a judge and cousin of Samar, a young freedom fighter Neela had rescued from the police in her village. They begin a desperate search for her father and get to know he is in jail and that he will be deported to the Andaman Islands in a few days. Neela has to free her father before that. But can a twelve-year-old girl outwit the mighty British empire? Set in a dramatic period in India's history, this racy adventure will have you turning the pages to find out if Neela finally manages to succeed in her mission.
PUBLISHED IN INDIA AS VICTORY SONG BY PUFFIN (PENGUIN) BOOKS
Praise for Neela: Victory Song:
“In 1939 India, 12-year-old Neela’s interests begin as local: her sister’s wedding, learning new music from a traveling musician. When a group of freedom fighters needing money interrupts the wedding and robs the guests, everything changes. Her father goes to join a protest march in Calcutta and soon Neela, disguised as a boy, follows. Chitra Divakaruni juggles two difficult goals: presenting the story of Indian independence and presenting it as a 12-year-old might have seen it. Some parts of the plot are independence-related; others relate more to questions 12-year-olds might have, about arranged marriages or the education of girls, for instance. . . . Neela’s experiences are intense.” (Chicago Tribune)