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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Review: The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

The Bridge Home 
By Padma Venkatraman 
February 5, 2019 

When Viji and her sister, Rukku, whose developmental disability makes her overly trusting and vulnerable to the perils of the world, run away to live on their own, the situation could not be more grim. Life on the streets of the teeming city of Chennai is harsh for girls considered outcasts, but the sisters manage to find shelter on an abandoned bridge. There they befriend Muthi and Arul, two boys in a similar predicament, and the four children bond together and form a family of sorts. Viji starts working with the boys scavenging in trash heaps while Rukku makes bead necklaces, and they buy food with what little money they earn. They are often hungry and scared but they have each other--and Kutti, the best dog ever. When the kids are forced from their safe haven on the bridge, they take shelter in a graveyard. But it is now the rainy season and they are plagued by mosquitos, and Rukku and Muthu fall ill. As their symptoms worsen, Viji and Arul must decide whether to risk going for help--when most adults in their lives have proven themselves untrustworthy--or to continue holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom. 

Young sisters, Viji and Rukku (who has developmental disabilities), must flee their abusive situation and seek refuge on the streets of Chennai, yet life on the streets in a big city is not easy or safe, especially for two poor, outcast girls. Soon the girls build themselves a rubble home on top of a bridge and form a family with two orphan boys, Muthi and Arul. Viji even finds work among the trash heaps with the boys. But hunger, dangerous men, sickness, and fear soon find the four desperate for help and unsure of where to turn.  

Padma Venkatraman’s The Bridge Home is a poignant and powerful middle-grade novel that sheds a light on an often unseen and ignored slice of the world. With authenticity and care, Padma Venkatraman builds Viji and Rukku’s world through complex layers, and startling and unwavering honesty. Viji and Rukku’s situation mirrors that of many real-life children and the author does a great job of depicting their world as realistically as possible, never shying away from the ugliness, hardships, and pain, while never stripping her characters of the dignity and self-worth they possess and deserve. Viji’s first person voice and point of view will allow readers to feel intimately connected to these characters as they deeply feel their sorrows and happily celebrate their triumphs.  

Viji, RukkuMuthi, and Arul’s story isn’t always easy to read, but their story is even harder to put down. There are tears, and heartache, and pain in The Bridge Home, but there’s also beauty, and hope, and sweetness.  

4/5 Cupcakes

American author, Padma Venkatraman, has worked as chief scientist on oceanographic ships and spent time under the sea, directed a school, and lived in 5 countries. Her 3 novels, A TIME TO DANCE, ISLAND’S END and CLIMBING THE STAIRS, were released to multiple starred reviews (12 altogether), and won numerous honors and awards (e.g. ALA, IRA Notable; Booklist, Kirkus, NYPL, Yalsa BBYA; CCBC choice; IBBY outstanding, etc.). She provides keynote addresses and commencement speeches, travels to international author festivals, serves on panels, does author visits and conducts workshops. Visit her at and 

1 comment:

Brenda said...

I've been meaning to read this and after your review need to bump it up on my TBR.