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Gr 6 Up—Despite the pressure from her parents to become an engineer, Veda dreams of being a dancer. She studies the classical Indian dance, Bharatanatyam, and has reached the competition finals. Impressed with her graceful lines and skill, the judges award her first place, and Veda is ecstatic. After posing for pictures, she is injured in an accident on the way home and her leg has to be amputated below the right knee. Devastated, she lies in her hospital bed devoid of hope until one day her doctor introduces her to a specialist from America. He sparks optimism in her because he understands that she needs to dance. Eventually Veda receives a prosthetic limb that allows her to walk and dance once again. She finds a new teacher for whom dance is more than a technical performance; it is an art form. Veda is placed with a student teacher, Govinda, who not only supports her as she relearns and strengthens her dancing but also becomes her friend. This exceptional novel, told entirely in verse, captures beautifully the emotions of a girl forced to deal with a number of challenges and how she overcomes them on her way to becoming a confident young woman. It is sure to appeal to readers who are also trying to find their place in the world.—Laura Fields Eason, Henry F. Moss Middle School, Bowling Green, KY
*Starred Review* Veda lives with her warm, traditional parents and sweet grandmother, Paati. She blissfully expresses herself through dance, even though engineering is her expected career goal. When tragedy strikes, she struggles to find her rhythm using her new, severely diminished physicality. In Venkatraman’s delectably scented, sensual world, lyrically told through verse and through Veda, life is illuminated as a beautiful celebration of doing what comes naturally as well as one is able. Veda’s awakening of her gift throughout her altered body and revolutionary prosthesis provides a spiritually uplifting premise. As her dance instructor and love interest, Govinda, persuades her, “Our ancient scriptures say the best dancers must have ten talents: balance, agility, steadiness, grace, intelligence, dedication, hard work, the ability to sing well, to speak well, and to see deeply and expressively. You’ve only lost the first three talents. Only for a while.” The acclaimed author of Climbing the Stairs (2008) deftly shapes readers’ comprehension of physical ability into a new arc of understanding. To even have a passing thought that Veda is disabled, rather than differently abled, would be utter madness. Set amid a cardamom-, melted butter-, and semolina sojji-infused landscape, the novel’s emotional expression and accompanying music impel the reader to share Veda’s belief that “Shiva dances everywhere. In everyone. In everything.” Grades 7-12. --Gail BushSee all Editorial Reviews
A beautifully told story about dance (the arts?) as spiritual sustenance with or without physical imperfections. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sarah Lamstein
This book was amazing, it gave a great understanding of the culture and had some really meaningful stories about Veda's life. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Emily
I'd really been hoping this was an old book that the movie Naache Mayuri (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naache_Mayuri) was based on, instead of being a retelling of that fantastic... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Nota Realname
Lovely, lovely book on so many levels. I felt drawn to the story, the world, the characters--the writing itself feels like a dance, smoothly flowing from one word to the next. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Caroline
Awesome poetry and storyline. We as a family can relate to the magic of Bharatanatyam dance and the passion in Veda very much. Padma has choreographed the poems wonderfully. Read morePublished 9 months ago by rpv
This is a beautifully written book. It goes quickly, so even if you do not have time for a long book, you would enjoy this. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Catherine G.
A surely outstanding book! Given the format I wasn't sure how the story line would play out. It was amazing.Published 12 months ago by Karen Vasudev