Cover image for Neela, victory song
Neela, victory song
Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee, 1956-
Publication Information:
Middleton, Wis. : Pleasant Co. Publications, [2002]

Physical Description:
196 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm.
In 1939, twelve-year-old Neela meets a young freedom fighter at her sister's wedding and soon after must rely on his help when her father fails to return home from a march in Calcutta against British occupation.
Reading Level:
740 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.2 5.0 62896.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.3 9 Quiz: 32856 Guided reading level: T.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Juvenile Fiction Series
X Juvenile Fiction Series
X Juvenile Fiction Series

On Order



As her old sister is about to marry, 12-year-old Neela Sen knows her parents will soon arrange a betrothal for her. But when her father goes to Calcutta to secretly investigate India's growing independence movement and doesn't return, Neela realizes she must do the unexpected--take matters into her own hands. Illustrations.

Author Notes

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni was born in India and later moved to the United States to attend college. She earned a M. A. at Wright State University and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Divakaruni held many odd jobs until she was able to become an accomplished writer. She was the president of MAITRI, a crisis hotline for female South Asian victims of domestic abuse, and is currently a professor at Foothill College in California.

Her works have been recognized in more than 50 magazines and 30 anthologies. She also has been awarded two PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Awards, a Pushcart Prize, and the Allen Ginsberg Poerty Prize. Divakaruni's books include Arranged Marriage and The Mistress of Spices. Her Title One Amazing Thing made The New York Times Best Seller List.

(Bowker Author Biography) Chitra Divakaruni is the author of the bestselling novels "The Mistress of Spices" & "Sister of My Heart", the story collection "Arranged Marriage", which won several awards, including the American Book Award, & four collections of poetry. Her work has appeared in "The New Yorker", "The Atlantic Monthly", "Ms.", & other publications. Born in India, she lives in the San Francisco area.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Divakaruni is best known for her poetry and short stories for adults, including her acclaimed fiction collection Arranged Marriages (1995). Her first offering for young readers, part of the Girls of Many Lands series, is a fast, nail-biting adventure set during India's fight for independence. Twelve-year-old Neela is exhilarated when her sister's wedding is interrupted by a band of rough freedom fighters asking for money and food. Neela is swept up by the patriotic excitement, and later, against her mother's protests, she helps to harbor Samar, a wounded fighter. When her father never returns from a protest march, Neela travels alone to Calcutta to find him, and with the help of Samar and his wealthy cousin, hatches a brazen rescue plan. Passages explaining the necessary historical and cultural background are admirably clear but not always well blended into the narrative, and some of the characters and the story's overt messages lack subtlety. But Divakaruni turns a rare subject in children's literature into a well-paced, gripping story that captures universal emotions as well as the complexity of Neela's choices and her anger as she begins to see the facts of colonialism. The precise, vibrant details of time and place (Divakaruni was raised in Calcutta) will put readers next to Neela on the terrifying train rides, the hot, crowded streets and, finally, in the arms of her parents. --Gillian Engberg

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Neela, 12, lives in India, where 200 years of British rule has turned sour. When she befriends an underground freedom fighter, Samar, her interest in India's struggle begins to consume her every thought. Her father has joined Mohandas Gandhi's peaceful "civil disobedience" movement, and she becomes determined to help him and Samar fight for her country's freedom. Meanwhile, her mother has brought her news of an offer of marriage, a lucky catch as the boy is from a wealthy and cultured family. Refusing to rush into an engagement, she steals away from home, disguised as a boy, and heads for Calcutta. Neela has several adventures and close calls, but she finds both men and is instrumental in getting them safely home. A strong female protagonist and historical subject matter are limited by a predictable plot. A hinted-at romance between Samar and Neela never emerges and the drama of the country's political tension is watered-down by far-fetched heroics. For a title that focuses on the mystical and exotic flavor of India, lead readers to Suzanne Fisher Staples's Shiva's Fire (Farrar, 2000).-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.