September 11, 2012

Life on the streets

No Ordinary Day
by Deborah Ellis

For Valli, the best day of her life was finding out that she had no family. Why? If you've spent your whole life picking up coal and being mistreated by people who you thought were your aunt and uncle and cousins but actually weren't, then such a discovery is actually freeing. With no family, Valli can do whatever she wants. And she chooses to leave. 

Valli finds herself living on the streets of Kolkata. At first she is scared, but, as an old man tells her, if she wasn't scared, she would just be having an ordinary day. So she decides to make the best of things, "borrowing" what she needs, like food and blankets, then passing them on to someone else who needs it more. She lives like this for months, until she meets a doctor who notices Valli's cut and injured feet. Dr. Indra wants to keep Valli in hospital until her leprosy can be cured. But Valli is frightened of the other patients, whose deformities make her think they are monsters. Valli runs away. However, during her short hospital stay, something was awakened in Valli - her curiosity. It makes her think that maybe she could have a better life.

A well-written story that fosters awareness in its target young audience. Readers will gain an understanding in what it means to be among the poorest of the poor and how difficult it is to find trust in others. The book also shows how fear and ignorance can lead to the marginalization of the weak and the ill.

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