Back to top

Children in Chennai

Cover of The Bridge Home
A review of The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
Eleven year old Viji and her younger sister Rukku flee their abusive father and arrive in Chennai (India) all alone.  Life on the streets is harsh and dangerous.  The girls form a friendship with two boys living in similar circumstances.  With Muthu and Arul, they make a shelter on an abandoned bridge.  Together, the four children look for work, share resources, and become a family to each other.  They even adopt a stray dog - Kutti, the best dog ever.  One night they are forced from their bridge and take up shelter in a cemetery.  There Rukku and Muthu fall ill.  Viji does all she can to help her sister, which might include having to trust adults.  The story is told in the form of letters that Viji writes to Rukku.
Many themes of this book are all too familiar to us here in the US, abuse, poverty and homelessness to name a few.  Other aspects such, as children climbing huge trash mountains in search of metal and glass to sell, are probably less familiar and offer a window into a different part of the world.  The themes of love, hope, and heartbreak are universal to us all.  For children ages 10-14.
May 6, 2019