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The Conch Bearer (Brotherhood of the Conch) Paperback – March 1, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7-Anand's compassionate gesture of sharing his tea with an old man in a Calcutta market leads to radical changes in the 12-year-old's life. The stranger is a member of the Brotherhood of Healers and invites the boy to join him on a dangerous journey to return a magical conch shell to its proper home in the far-off Himalayas. Along with Nisha, a sweeper-girl who insists on joining them, Anand and Abhaydatta travel to the mountains pursued by the evil Surabhanu, a power-hungry ex-member of the brotherhood. Anand struggles in his own mind, doubting Abhaydatta's motives and the existence of magic, jealous of Nisha's comfortable relationship with the old man, and occasionally succumbing to Surabhanu's tempting illusions. When he finally reaches the Silver Valley, more challenges await him before he can enter. In the end, he faces the most difficult choice of all-to stay in the world of magic he had always dreamed of or return to his family. This quest adventure has an exotic flavor: the journey from a crowded Indian city through rural villages and the high mountains, a magical background from traditional Indian tales, and deliciously detailed description of Indian foods. Honesty, loyalty, and compassion are the virtues demanded by the Healers; Anand's actions show that he has all three. Readers can sympathize with his struggles and long for his success. This traditional story in fresh new clothing should appeal to middle graders.
Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. In modern-day India, a boy named Anand perseveres in difficult circumstances. His father is gone, his sister has had a breakdown, and he and his mother struggle to keep a shack's roof over their heads. Anand is kind to an old man, Abhaydatta, a healer who is charged with bringing home an irreplaceable conch shell, stolen from his brotherhood. What follows is a classic quest story in which Anand and feisty, orphaned Nisha eventually continue the quest for the shell on their own. Faced with all the conventions of the genre, they undergo various trials, and Anand makes choices that change his life. Fantasy lovers will recognize familiar elements; certain touches are reminiscent of the Harry Potter books (the evil one takes the shape of a snake) and C. S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (tempting food controls a child). With so many fantasies being published, what's special about this one? It's the unique setting, along with the elegance of Divakaruni's writing. The slums of "Kalcotta" are so richly created that readers can almost smell them, and the pure beauty of Anand's destination is a shimmering Shangri-La come to life. The characterizations have the same lucidity, real to the core, yet cloaked in magic. This speaks directly to children, in a very enticing voice. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Brotherhood of the Conch
  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; Reprint edition (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689872429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689872426
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the award-winning author of 18 books. Her themes include the Indian experience, contemporary America, women, immigration, history, myth, and the joys and challenges of living in a multicultural world. Her work has been published in over 100 magazines and anthologies and translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Hindi and Japanese. She has won numerous awards, including an American
Book Award and the internation Premio Scanno Prize. Divakaruni also writes for children and young adults.

Her latest novel is Oleander Girl (Simon and Schuster, 2013). Her upcoming novel is Before We Visit the Goddess (about 3 generations of women-- grandmother, mother and daughter-- who each examine the question "what does it mean to be a successful woman." April 2016, Simon & Schuster.)

Two of her books, The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart, have been made into movies. Her novels One Amazing Thing and Palace of Illusions have been optioned. Her collection of stories, Arranged Marriage has been made into a play.

She was born in India and came to the United States to continue her education, receiving a Master's degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

She currently teaches in the nationally ranked Creative Writing program at the Univ. of Houston. She serves on the Advisory board of Maitri in the San Francisco Bay Area and Daya in Houston, organizations that help South Asian or South Asian American women in abusive situations. She is also closely involved with Pratham, an organization that helps educate children (especially those living in urban slums) in India.

She has judged several prestigious awards, such as the National Book Award and the PEN Faulkner Award.

She lives in Houston with her husband Murthy and has two sons, Anand and Abhay (whose names she has used in her children's novels).

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Divakaruni's exotic adventure "The Conch Bearer" stands out among the many palid children fantasies out there. Her characters are fresh, vivid, and 3-dimensional, and she sucks you into the Indian setting showing you and ultimately making you appreciate their culture. Anand is not enjoying his life when the story starts. Ever since his father left for a job in America, every day that passes erodes the hope from Anand that he might come back. Money becomes short and soon Anand's mother can't afford to send him or his sister to school anymore and Anand has to go and get a job for the horrible Haru. One day, Anand is kind to a strange man, Abhaydatta, who ultimately whisks him away on a grand adventure and entrusts Anand with the task to safely return the all powerful Conch to the Silver Valley; a nirvana high in the mountains. Anand must do this all the while trying to keep the Conch from the greedy Surabhanu. This story may not sound all that original, but Divakaruni's Indian setting and vivid characters give it a fresh spin that left me clamoring for the sequel. Don't miss out on this magical adventure.
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Format: Paperback
The Conch Bearer starts with a young Indian boy named Anand in the middle of what starts off as a routine day. He is a 12-year-old boy who because of his circumstances has to labor for minimal wages under a mean and nasty boss named Haru. Anand and his family are coping as best they can after having lost contact and support from his father. He can no longer afford the luxury of going to school, which was difficult for his mother as well as himself. It also pains her that her son has to work and live in such difficult circumstances, but she also appreciates the help she gets from Anand working. Anand's love for his family is great and he is more than willing to work to help. Throughout the story the book touches on some difficult aspects about life in India. Though it would be a great read for all, perhaps it best relates to students with a background in another country or who are growing up poor having to make sacrifices for the well being of the whole family. Anand even recognizes that his own fate isn't as bad as his friend Nisha who knows no family and lives on the street every night. What helps Anand through it all is his desire to help people and a belief that things will change for the better. A self-sacrificing act of kindness sets this young boy on his journey as the conch bearer. It is not an easy journey, as Anand has to struggle mostly against his own self and through feelings of jealousy and distrust in order to successfully return the conch.

I read and reviewed this book for a book competition; the aim, to encourage young readers to read more.
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Format: Hardcover
This was a really beautifully written novel that reminded me of A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park mixed up with Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. A poor young boy is asked by a powerful sorcerer to help him bring back the sacred conch to the silver valley. A sweeper girl sort of tags along much to the dismay of both of them, but does wind up being an important asset. Along the way, they must decide who to trust as the evil sorcerer who originally stole the conch tries to get it back. At the end, the boy must decide if he wants to stay and be a healer and the bearer of the conch with the monks, or return to his loving family, reunited and healed since his absence.

The descriptions of food were so vivid in this novel I actually went out to my fave Indian restaurant upon finishing it, and then bought some frozen samosas and some other Indian foods after it. It was really an enjoyable book, but I give it four stars because I just felt something was missing. The description of the culture was great, but I wonder if it would have been if I didn't know all about the food prior to reading it. The battles between good and evil should have been much more dramatic. It took me about a week to get halfway through it, and then I finally got hooked. I can't really explain what was missing, but there was a little something. Still, it was really an excellent book.
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A Kid's Review on March 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Conch Bearer is an imaginative, exquistely told narrative of adventure and fantasy. It is barrels of fun to read up until the last few chapters. Those chapters are not consistent with the rest of the story.

The Conch Bearer follows a poor boy named Anand who lives in a shack with his mother and mentally ill sister, Meera. Anand is laughed at by school children and has to work many hours every day just to earn a few dollars a month. Then one day, a sorcerer named Abhaydatta follows Anand home and heals Meera. Abhaydatta then invites Anand to follow him on a mystical quest to return the magical conch to the Brotherhood.

I love Anand and his family. I love Nisha, the adorable street girl who accompanies Anand and Abhaydatta to become the first Sister of the Brotherhood.

The one thing that absolutely ruins the story happens near the end when Anand forces his family to forget all about him so he can join the brotherhood without guilt. The story would have been so hopeful and good if it had not been for the conclusion.

The Conch Bearer is a good read, but the ending is not consistent with any of the story's values.
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