Padma Venkatraman’s inspiring story of a young girl’s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form. This is a stunning novel about spiritual awakening, the power of art, and above all, the courage and resilience of the human spirit.
Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.
About the Author
Padma Venkatraman (www.padmasbooks.com) is an oceanographer by training and a writer by choice. Her critically acclaimed novels Climbing the Stairs and Island’s End were both ALA/YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, Booklist Editor's Choice BBYAs, Amelia Bloomer list selections and CCBC choices, in addition to winning several other honors and awards (such as the South Asia Book Award, Paterson Prize, Julia Ward Howe BAC award, NYPL Book for the Teen Age, Kirkus Best Book of the Year, Booksense Notable, and PW Flying Start). Padma was born in India, but is now an American citizen and lives with her family in Rhode Island.
* “In Venkatraman’s delectably scented, sensual world, lyrically told through verse and through Veda, life is illuminated as a beautiful celebration of doing what comes naturally, as best as one is able. Veda's awakening of her gift throughout her altered body and revolutionary prosthesis provides a spiritually uplifting premise. . . . . The acclaimed author of Climbing the Stairs, Venkatraman deftly shapes readers’ comprehension of physical ability into a new arc of understanding. To even have a passing thought that Veda is disabled, rather than differently-abled, would be utter madness. Set against a cardamom, melted butter, and semolina sojji-wafted landscape, the novel’s emotional expression and accompanying music impel the reader to share Veda’s belief that ‘Shiva dances everywhere. In everyone. In everything.’” — Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
* “Weaves together several themes so elegantly that they become one: Veda’s bodily exertion, learning to dance with her prosthetic leg; her process of changing her dance technique to be emotional and spiritual as well as physical; and all the rest of Veda’s life, including young love, grief, insecurity and a dawning awareness of class issues. . . . Fluid first-person verse. . . . Veda’s no disabled saint; awkwardness and jealousy receive spot-on portrayals. . . .A beautiful integration of art, religion, compassion and connection.” — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
* “The descriptions of contemporary India are beautiful and Venkatraman weaves images so divine that you can see the statues of Shiva, hear the ankle bells in the bharatanatyam dance, and smell the acrid scent of burnt rubber from the accident. Told in verse, this story is magnificently strong as Veda’s determination dances off the page and into the reader’s heart.” — VOYA, STARRED REVIEW
* “This exceptional novel, told entirely in verse, captures beautifully the emotions of a girl forced to deal with a number of challenges and how she overcomes them on her way to becoming a confident young woman. It is sure to appeal to readers who are also trying to find their place in the world.” — School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
* “Deftly wrought free-verse. . . . The language is lilting and rhythmic . . . the sensory elements evocatively describe the sights and sounds of Veda’s rich Indian surroundings. Her existential ponderings . . . are woven seamlessly into the tale, and her moments of jealousy and rage are presented honestly. Heart-achingly hopeful and beautifully written, this story will remain with readers long after the final line of verse.” — The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, STARRED REVIEW
“Brief lines, powerful images, and motifs of sound communicate Veda’s difficult struggle to accept her changed body—and her new limitations, especially in dance. . . . Subplots exploring other loves and losses also help Veda learn about herself, her faith, and her art. And, eventually, after a successful return to dance, Veda again feels whole.” — The Horn Book