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Anila's Journey Hardcover – October 14, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–10—In this tale set in 18th-century India, orphaned teen Anila is living with an Irish painter and his daughter in Calcutta. She misses her deceased mother and dreams of finding her father, who disappeared years earlier. A smart, unconventional girl with a talent for art, Anila has hit upon great good fortune. Her guardians are generous and influential and land her a job with an open-minded English naturalist who is conducting a river expedition to search for new bird species. The journey is intercut with flashbacks of her life from childhood to the present. The young woman meets with violence and harassment, but she is strong and forges on despite adversity. Her journey will captivate patient readers. Finn's first novel sketches vivid images of the Indian landscape, and her characters are as vibrant as their surroundings. The nicely paced story is well balanced between Anila's past and present.—Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT
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From Booklist

Set in late eighteenth-century India, this layered, atmospheric debut follows a girl’s archetypal search for her own history. At 14, Anila finds herself alone in Calcutta. After her Indian mother’s death and her guardians’ move to Madras, Anila chooses to stay behind, hoping that her father, an Irishman who disappeared years earlier, will return. Searching for work, she finds a posting for a draftsman with a British river expedition. A talented artist fluent in both Bengali and English, she secures the job, and the subsequent journey parallels Anila’s startling discovery of her own family story. Chapters on the river intersperse with those detailing Anila’s previous life, creating a meandering, sometimes disjointed narrative that may slow some readers. Many, though, will be captivated by Finn’s cinematic descriptions of places, people, and the complexities of colonial rule. The characters’ appreciation for beauty and the well-told stories add lyricism to every page. Anila’s profound yearning for family, belonging, and a sense of self will resonate with many teens, particularly those who, like Anila, are caught between cultures. Grades 9-12. --Gillian Engberg

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 900L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1 edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763639168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763639167
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,006,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on March 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When Anila Tandy's guardians, the Hickeys, decide to leave Calcutta, they beg her to accompany them, but she stubbornly refuses to come so that just in case her long-gone father returns as he promised many years ago, she'll be there.

Miss Hickey then sets her up with everything she'll need to survive by herself. Most importantly, she finds Anila a job as a bird painter on an expedition up the Ganges River.

As the days go by and she discovers new birds, she also reflects on her past. How life was like when her mother was still alive and her father was still around, or remembering the stories her mother used to tell. Along the journey, Anila also finds herself and grows up.

ANILA'S JOURNEY was a well-written historical story. The re-creation of historic India was fascinating and I enjoyed learning more about the older Indian culture. I thought that it was really interesting how Mary Finn alternated the chapters by telling what Anila was experiencing at the present and then stories about Anila's past - and then bringing them together in the end.

Anila herself was an interesting character who really grew up throughout the novel and became her true self. I loved all of the culture references and felt like I learned quite a bit. At times, the book got dry and I found that it was hard to keep reading, but then it would get better over time. Overall, I really did enjoy the book.

Reviewed by: Tasha
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Format: Hardcover
A young girl,daughter of a Bengalese mother and Irish father, is apparently abandoned by her father. Anila is a talented painter of birds. She applies for and wins a job as an artist on a Ganges river birding exhibition. Her encounters with well drawn Bengali characters and her resolution of the mystery above, are written with skill by first time Irish novel writer, Mary Finn. Adventure, cruelty, ethnic rivalries and artistic recognition are all mixed into this beautifully written story of late 18th. Century colonial India. Both Mother and daughter have faith in the vanished Irish father. Moralistic critics could object to Anila's posiion as daughter of a mistress who has to continue her ways, to support her daughter. But that is the culture. The resolution of the story may come all of a sudden. but it is satisfying.
The book presents a good story set in Bengali culture for the young adult or mature middle grade reader.
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