Roshani Chokshi (2018)
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
What I Liked
- Rick Riordan Presents
- I just want to take a moment and gush about the amazing imprint that this man has developed. For those who don’t know, Rick Riordan is working to produce middle grade stories from authors who write about their mythologies and folklore (that may not be mainstream/talked about). Currently, this book (Aru Shah) is the first to be produced under this umbrella, with two other coming out later this year, one containing Mayan myths, and the other Korean. THIS STORIES ARE SO IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW! I cannot stress enough how much I support these efforts to bring other cultures into the lives of children (and everyone) at this current time. I will most certainly be buying these books and sharing them with whomever I can because they need to be distributed and talked about.
- Specific Passage
- There was a section on page 71 where Aru talks about a Superhero’s cape. I really really liked the thought, and will share it with you here:
- “Maybe that’s why superheroes wore capes. Maybe they weren’t actually capes at all, but safety blankets, like the one Aru kept at the bottom of her bed and pulled up under her chin before she went to sleep. Maybe superheroes just tied their blankies around their necks so they’d have a little bit of comfort wherever they went. Because honestly? Saving the world was scary. No harm admitting that.”
- Thinking about superhero capes as blankies in disguise makes them seem more human, which, we could all use as a reminder once in a while. It is normal to be scared. With all these images (and movies etc.) telling us what to look and act like, thinking that superheroes have that security at all times makes them more relatable.
- The Palace of Illusions
- So cute! I would LOVE to live in a palace like that. I would also feel stupid guilty whenever I left (even if it was just to go grocery shopping or something)
- The Ending
- I liked that things were not completely resolved by the end of the story. It left you wanting more, but still feeling satisfied enough that you aren’t suffering too much while you await the sequel.
- First Impression
- I like that I was wrong about my First Impression. That despite feeling a reading slump coming on, I was able to push through and really enjoy this book for what it was meant to be enjoyed as. I even ended up a hole star higher than my initial prediction! (you can see that prediction here)
What I Disliked
- This is going to seem petty, but it bothered me that the girl on the cover has super long hair, but in the book Aru says something about her chin-length hair(page 261- “Aru’s chin length hair stuck to her face”). I know it is minor, but it is inconsistent and that bothers me for some reason.
- Aru is supposed to be in 7th grade, and granted, I may not remember EXACTLY what it was like to be in 7th grade, but I also feel like I have a good idea, and to me Aru seemed very immature for her age. I get that this is a middle grade book, and that it is geared for maybe a younger audience, but then why not make the character even more relatable to them and have her the same age?
Can I just note how much I LOVE these dividers and how perfectly (I feel) they fit this book?
Alright, now that that is out of the way- I featured this book as my very first First Impressions Friday. There, I said I was on the verge of a reading slump and wasn’t sure this was the right time for me to be reading it. However, I powered through and ended up really enjoying this in the end. Sure! It has it’s flaws, but most of them are petty or personal and shouldn’t deter anyone else from reading this. I know personally, I would really like to own this in the future, so that I can share this wonderful, culturally rich introduction to Hindu mythology with my kids one day. Books like Aru Shah and the rest of the future books to come out under this imprint are so very important right now. I cannot stress enough how much we need new stories from different people. We need to learn and understand each other better. The world could use a whole lot more sympathy and a whole lot less hatred.
Is this book on your TBR? Have you read it yet? Don’t you just LOVE the cover? Let’s chat in the comments :]
Tyler Johnson was Here by Jay Coles
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
(I am having trouble choosing, so stay tuned)