Afghanistan

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Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy

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Zulaikha hopes. She hopes for peace, now that the Taliban have been driven from Afghanistan; a good relationship with her hard stepmother; and one day even to go to school, or to have her cleft palate fixed. Zulaikha knows all will be provided for her--"Inshallah," God willing. 

Then she meets Meena, who offers to teach her the Afghan poetry she taught her late mother. And the Americans come to her village, promising not just new opportunities and dangers, but surgery to fix her face. These changes could mean a whole new life for Zulaikha--but can she dare to hope they'll come true?


Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples

Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples

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Intertwined portraits of courage and hope in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Najmah, a young Afghan girl whose name means "star," suddenly finds herself alone when her father and older brother are conscripted by the Taliban and her mother and newborn brother are killed in an air raid. An American woman, Elaine, whose Islamic name is Nusrat, is also on her own. She waits out the war in Peshawar, Pakistan, teaching refugee children under the persimmon tree in her garden while her Afghan doctor husband runs a clinic in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan.

Najmah's father had always assured her that the stars would take care of her, just as Nusrat's husband had promised that they would tell Nusrat where he was and that he was safe. As the two look to the skies for answers, their fates entwine. Najmah, seeking refuge and hoping to find her father and brother, begins the perilous journey through the mountains to cross the border into Pakistan. And Nusrat's persimmon-tree school awaits Najmah's arrival. Together, they both seek their way home.

Known for her award-winning fiction set in South Asia, Suzanne Fisher Staples revisits that part of the world in this beautifully written, heartrending novel.


Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan

Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan

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Jameela and her family live in a poor, war-torn village in Afghanistan. Even with her cleft lip and lack of educational opportunities, Jameela feels relatively secure, sustained by her Muslim faith and the love of her mother, Mor. But when Mor dies, Jameela’s father impulsively decides to start a new life in Kabul. Jameela is appalled as he succumbs to alcohol and drugs, then suddenly remarries, a situation that soon has her a virtual slave to a demanding stepmother. After she’s discovered trying to learn to read, Jameela is abandoned in a busy market, eventually landing in an orphanage run by the same army that killed so many members of her family. Throughout it all, the memory of her mother sustains her, giving Jameela the strength to face her father and stepmother when fate brings them together again. Inspired by a true story, and set in a world far removed from that of Western readers, this powerful novel reveals that the desire for identity and self-understanding is universal.


The Breadwinner (The Breadwinner #1) by Deborah Ellis

The Breadwinner (The Breadwinner #1) by Deborah Ellis

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Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, 11-year-old Parvana has rarely been outdoors. Barred from attending school, shopping at the market, or even playing in the streets of Kabul, the heroine of Deborah Ellis's engrossing children's novel The Breadwinner is trapped inside her family's one-room home. That is, until the Taliban hauls away her father and Parvana realizes that it's up to her to become the "breadwinner" and disguise herself as a boy to support her mother, two sisters, and baby brother. Set in the early years of the Taliban regime, this topical novel for middle readers explores the harsh realities of life for girls and women in modern-day Afghanistan. A political activist whose first book for children, Looking for X, dealt with poverty in Toronto, Ellis based The Breadwinner on the true-life stories of women in Afghan refugee camps.

In the wily Parvana, Ellis creates a character to whom North American children will have no difficulty relating. The daughter of university-educated parents, Parvana is thoroughly westernized in her outlook and responses. A pint-sized version of Offred from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Parvana conceals her critique of the repressive Muslim state behind the veil of her chador. Although the dialogue is occasionally stilted and the ending disappointingly sketchy, The Breadwinner is essential reading for any child curious about ordinary Afghans. Like so many books and movies on the subject, it is also eerily prophetic. "Maybe someone should drop a big bomb on the country and start again," says a friend of Parvana's. "'They've tried that,' Parvana said, 'It only made things worse.'"


Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay

Thunder Over Kandahar by Sharon E. McKay and Rafal Gerszak (Photographer)

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A powerful novel of enduring friendship set amid the terror and chaos of present-day Afghanistan. Best friends Tamanna and Yasmine cannot believe their good fortune when a school is set up in their Afghan village; however, their dreams for the future are shattered when the Taliban burns down the school and threatens the teacher and students with death. As Tamanna faces an arranged marriage to an older man, and the Taliban targets Yasmine’s western-educated family, the girls realize they must flee. Traveling through the heart of Taliban territory, the two unaccompanied young women find themselves in mortal danger. After suffering grave injuries—Tamanna from a fall and Yasmine from a suicide bombing—the girls are left without the one thing that has helped them survive—each other. The book features stunning photographs by award-winning photojournalist Rafal Gerszak (The New York Times, BBC World News) that bring readers an immediate sense of the faces and landscape of Afghanistan. Filled with tension and drama, Thunder Over Kandahar paints a vivid portrait of the perils of contemporary Afghanistan.


To Afghanistan and Back: A Graphic Travelogue by Ted Rall

To Afghanistan and Back: A Graphic Travelogue by Ted Rall

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Introduction by Bill Maher. When U.S. bombs started raining on the Taliban, Rall jumped on a plane straight to the war zone to get the real story for himself. Featuring his Village Voice articles and a graphic novel.


In the Sea There are Crocodiles: Based on the True Story of Enaiatollah Akbari by Fabio Geda and Howard Curtis (Translator)

In the Sea There are Crocodiles: Based on the True Story of Enaiatollah Akbari by Fabio Geda and Howard Curtis (Translator)

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When a ten-year-old boy's village in Afghanistan falls prey to Taliban rule, his mother shepherds the boy across the border into Pakistan but has to leave him there all alone to fend for himself. Thus begins Enaiat's remarkable and often punishing five-year ordeal.

When ten-year-old Enaiatollah Akbari's small village in Afghanistan falls prey to Taliban rule in early 2000, his mother shepherds the boy across the border into Pakistan but has to leave him there all alone to fend for himself. Thus begins Enaiat's remarkable and often punish­ing five-year ordeal, which takes him through Iran, Turkey, and Greece before he seeks political asylum in Italy at the age of fifteen. 

Along the way, Enaiat endures the crippling physical and emotional agony of dangerous border crossings, trekking across bitterly cold mountain pathways for days on end or being stuffed into the false bottom of a truck. But not every­one is as resourceful, resilient, or lucky as Enaiat, and there are many heart-wrenching casualties along the way. 

Based on Enaiat's close collaboration with Italian novelist Fabio Geda and expertly rendered in English by an award-winning translator, this novel reconstructs the young boy's memories, perfectly preserving the childlike perspective and rhythms of an intimate oral history. 

Told with humor and humanity, In the Sea There Are Crocodiles brilliantly captures Enaiat's moving and engaging voice and lends urgency to an epic story of hope and survival. 

Azerbaijan

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892520.jpgAzerbaijan Diary: A Rogue Reporter's Adventures in an Oil-Rich, War-Torn, Post-Soviet Republic: A Rogue Reporter's Adventures in an Oil-Rich, War-Torn, Post-Soviet Republic by Thomas Goltz

Azerbaijan Diary: A Rogue Reporter's Adventures in an Oil-Rich, War-Torn, Post-Soviet Republic: A Rogue Reporter's Adventures in an Oil-Rich, War-Torn, Post-Soviet Republic by Thomas Goltz

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In its first years as an independent state, Azerbaijan was a prime example of post-Soviet chaos - beset by coups and civil strife and astride an ethnic, political and religious divide. Author Goltz was detoured in Baku in mid-1991 and decided to stay, this diary is the record of his experiences.

Bahrain

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Round the Bend by Nevil Shute

Round the Bend by Nevil Shute

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Tom Cutter is in love with airplanes and has been from his boyhood. He can remain in England, an employee in another man's aviation business, or he can set out on his own.

With little more than personal grit and an antique aircraft, Cutter organizes an independent flying service on the Persian Gulf. He sees opportunities everywhere, also dangers.

Bangladesh

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Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins and Jamie Hogan (Illustrator)

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In her Bangladesh village, ten-year-old Naima excels at painting designs called alpanas, but to help her impoverished family financially she would have to be a boy--or disguise herself as one.


Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins

Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins

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“One of the new tiger cubs has escaped from the reserve!”When a tiger cub escapes from a nature reserve near Neel’s island village, the rangers and villagers hurry to find her before the cub’s anxious mother follows suit and endangers them all. Mr. Gupta, a rich newcomer to the island, is also searching—he wants to sell the cub’s body parts on the black market. Neel and his sister, Rupa, resolve to find the cub first and bring her back to the reserve where she belongs.

The hunt for the cub interrupts Neel’s preparations for an exam to win a prestigious scholarship at a boarding school far from home. Neel doesn’t mind—he dreads the exam and would rather stay on his beloved island in the Sunderbans of West Bengal with his family and friends.

But through his encounter with the cub, Neil learns that sometimes you have to take risks to preserve what you love. And sometimes you have to sacrifice the present for the chance to improve the future.

Bhutan

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Married to Bhutan by Linda Leaming

Married to Bhutan by Linda Leaming

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Tucked away in the eastern end of the Himalayas lies Bhutan—a tiny, landlocked country bordering China and India. Impossibly remote and nearly inaccessible, Bhutan is rich in natural beauty, exotic plants and animals, and crazy wisdom. It is a place where people are genuinely content with very few material possessions and the government embraces “Gross National Happiness” instead of Gross National Product.

        In this funny, magical memoir, we accompany Linda Leaming on her travels through South Asia, sharing her experiences as she learns the language, customs, and religion; her surprising romance with a Buddhist artist; and her realizations about the unexpected path to happiness and accidental enlightenment.

        As one of the few Americans to have lived in Bhutan, Leaming offers a rare glimpse into the quirky mountain kingdom so many have only dreamed of. For over ten years, Leaming has lived and worked in the town of Thimphu, where there are no traffic lights and fewer than 100,000 people. “If enlightenment is possible anywhere,” she writes, “I think it is particularly possible here.”

        The Bhutanese way of life can seem daunting to most Westerners, whose lives are consumed with time, efficiency, and acquiring things. But Leaming shows us that we don’t necessarily have to travel around the world to appreciate a little Bhutan in our own lives, and that following our dreams is the way to be truly happy.


Butter Tea at Sunrise: A Year in the Bhutan Himalaya by Britta Das

Butter Tea at Sunrise: A Year in the Bhutan Himalaya by Britta Das

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Often seen as a magical paradise at the end of the world, Bhutan is inaccessible to most travellers. Set against the dramatic scenery of the Himalaya, this beautiful memoir reveals hardships and happiness in a land almost untouched by the West. When Britta, a young physiotherapist, goes to work in a remote village hospital, her good intentions are put to the test amid monsoons, fleas and shocking conditions. But as she visits homes in the mountains and learns the mysteries of tantric Buddhism, the country casts its enduring spell. Gaining insights into the traditions of this mystical kingdom, she makes friends and falls in love. Bhutan will change her life forever. 

Brunei

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Written in Black by K.H. Lim

Written in Black by K.H. Lim

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A darkly humorous coming-of-age novel set in Brunei on the island of Borneo, Written in Black offers a snapshot of a few days in the life of ten-year-old Jonathan Lee, attending the funeral of his Ah Kong, or grandfather, and still reeling from the drama of his mother leaving for Australia and his brother getting kicked out of the house and joining a rock band. Annoyed at being the brunt of his father’s pent-up anger, Jonathan escapes his grandfather’s wake in an empty coffin and embarks on a journey through the backwaters of Brunei to bring his disowned brother back for the funeral and to learn the truth about his absent mother. On a quest that takes him across the little-known Sultanate, past gangs of glue-sniffing poklans (Brunei’s teenage delinquents), cursed houses and weird shopkeepers, Jonathan discovers adventure, courage, friendship and, finally, himself. 

Cambodia

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The Stone Goddess by Minfong Ho

The Stone Goddess by Minfong Ho

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Award-winning author Minfong Ho tells the story of Nakri's struggles during the Communist takeover of Cambodia in the 1980s.

Twelve-year-old Nakri's beloved home in Cambodia is shattered when the nation's capital is overrun by government rebels. Her family is forced to flee, and she and her siblings end up in a children's labor camp, separated from everything they've ever known. At long last, Cambodia is liberated and Nakri's family sets out for America, a place to begin again. There, Nakri learns that she can leave Cambodia behind, but the memories will be a part of her forever.


Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

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This National Book Award nominee from two-time finalist Patricia McCormick is the unforgettable story of Arn Chorn-Pond, who defied the odds to survive the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979 and the labor camps of the Khmer Rouge.

Based on the true story of Cambodian advocate Arn Chorn-Pond, and authentically told from his point of view as a young boy, this is an achingly raw and powerful historical novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace. It includes an author's note and acknowledgments from Arn Chorn-Pond himself.

When soldiers arrive in his hometown, Arn is just a normal little boy. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever.

Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: working in the rice paddies under a blazing sun, he sees the other children dying before his eyes. One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn's never played a note in his life, but he volunteers.

This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier.


The Clay Marble by Minfong Ho

The Clay Marble by Minfong Ho

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Fleeing war-torn Cambodia in 1980, Dara, her mother, and her older brother find sanctuary in a refugee settlement on the Thailand border, but when fighting erupts, Dara finds herself separated from everyone and everything she loves. 

China

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Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang

Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang

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This accessible autobiography is the true story of one girl's determination to hold her family together during one of the most terrifying eras of the twentieth century.

It's 1966, and twelve-year-old Ji-li Jiang has everything a girl could want: brains, friends, and a bright future in Communist China. But it's also the year that China's leader, Mao Ze-dong, launches the Cultural Revolution—and Ji-li's world begins to fall apart. Over the next few years, people who were once her friends and neighbors turn on her and her family, forcing them to live in constant terror of arrest. When Ji-li's father is finally imprisoned, she faces the most difficult dilemma of her life.

A personal and painful memoir—a page-turner as well as excellent material for social studies curricula—Red Scarf Girl also includes a thorough glossary and pronunciation guide.


The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley

The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley

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Things aren’t looking good for fourteen-year-old Mehrigul. She yearns to be in school, but she’s needed on the family farm. The longer she’s out of school, the more likely it is that she’ll be sent off to a Chinese factory . . . perhaps never to return. Her only hope is an American woman who buys one of her decorative vine baskets for a staggering sum and says she will return in three weeks for more. Mehrigul must brave terrible storms, torn-up hands from working the fields, and her father’s scorn to get the baskets done. The stakes are high, and time is passing. A powerful intergenerational story of a strong, creative young artist in a cruelly oppressive society. 


Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine

Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine

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Nine-year-old Ling is very comfortable in her life; her parents are both dedicated surgeons in the best hospital in Wuhan. But when Comrade Li, one of Mao s political officers, moves into a room in their apartment, Ling begins to witness the gradual disintegration of her world. In an atmosphere of increasing mistrust, Ling fears for the safety of her neighbors and, soon, for herself and family. Over the course of four years, Ling manages to grow and blossom, even as she suffers more horrors than many people face in a lifetime. 


Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis and William Low

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis and William Low

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A classic Newbery Award winner, with an introduction by Katherine Paterson and new illustrations

When Young Fu arrives with his mother in bustling 1920s Chungking, all he has seen of the world is the rural farming village where he has grown up. He knows nothing of city life. But the city, with its wonders and dangers, fascinates the thirteen-year-old boy, and he sets out to make the best of what it has to offer him. 
First published in 1932, Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze was one of the earliest Newbery Medal winners. Although China has changed since that time, Young Fu's experiences, like making friends, are timeless.


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Lady of Ch'iao Kuo: Red Bird of the South, Southern China, A.D. 531 (The Royal Diaries) by Laurence Yep

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The Royal Diaries proudly presents two-time Newbery Honor author Laurence Yep, whose stunning diary of sixteen-year-old Lady of Ch'iao Kuo takes readers on a remarkable adventure to Southern China in the sixth century A.D. A born leader, Lady of Ch'iao Kuo, also known as Princess Redbird, is both courageous and keenly intelligent.


Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen

Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen 

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A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this “heartbreaking, heartwarming, and impressive debut” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) told in verse, in the tradition of Inside Out and Back Again and Sold.

Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. Mama tells Kara to be content with what she has…but what if Kara secretly wants more?

Told in lyrical, moving verse, Red Butterfly is the story of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights.


The Great Call of China (Students Across the Seven Seas) by Cynthea Liu 

The Great Call of China (Students Across the Seven Seas) by Cynthea Liu 

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Chinese-born Cece was adopted when she was two years old by her American parents. Living in Texas, she's bored of her ho-hum high school and dull job. So when she learns about the S.A.S.S. program to Xi'an, China, she jumps at the chance. She'll be able to learn about her passion - anthropology - and it will give her the opportunity to explore her roots. But when she arrives, she receives quite a culture shock. And the closer she comes to finding out about her birth parents, the more apprehensive she gets. Enter Will, the cute guy she first meets on the plane. He and Cece really connect during the program. But can he help her get accustomed to a culture she should already know about, or will she leave China without the answers she's been looking for? 


Chenxi and the Foreigner by Sally Rippin

Chenxi and the Foreigner by Sally Rippin 

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Love in the time of the Tiananmen Square.

Anna never imagined living in such a foreign place. Fresh out of high school, she has joined her father, who works in Shanghai. She's eager to see China beyond the bicycle-crowded streets between their apartment, her father's expatriate community and the art school she's attending. That's why she's thrilled when her father hires a cute local -- a fellow student named Chenxi -- to be her translator and guide.

Too bad Anna seems nothing but trouble for Chenxi. His ideas about art already rankle the authorities, and he could do without the added attention of being with a wai guo ren -- a foreigner. Even so, he is intrigued by Anna's brashness and the freedoms she takes for granted. But when Anna turns their friendship toward passion, her actions have consequences that are intensified by a watchful regime looking to get rid of disruptive artists.

Set around the time of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and inspired by the author's time spent in China as a teenager, Chenxi and the Foreigner crackles with emotion, ideas and authenticity. 


Frog by Mo Yan and Howard Goldblatt (Translation)

Frog by Mo Yan and Howard Goldblatt (Translation)

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Mo Yan chronicles the sweeping history of modern China through the lens of the nation’s controversial one-child policy.

Frog opens with a playwright nicknamed Tadpole who plans to write about his aunt. In her youth, Gugu—the beautiful daughter of a famous doctor and staunch Communist—is revered for her skill as a midwife. But when her lover defects, Gugu’s own loyalty to the Party is questioned. She decides to prove her allegiance by strictly enforcing the one-child policy, keeping tabs on the number of children in the village, and performing abortions on women as many as eight months pregnant. 

India

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A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury

A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury

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Before India was divided, three teens, each from wildly different backgrounds, cross paths. And then, in one moment, their futures become irrevocably intertwined.

Tariq. Anupreet. Margaret. As different as their Muslim, Sikh, and British names. But in one moment, their futures become entirely dependent on one another's.

While the rest of India anxiously awaits the upcoming partition that will divide the country into two separate religious states, eighteen-year-old Tariq focuses on his own goal: to study at Oxford. But for a Muslim born and raised in India, there is no obvious path to England—until Tariq is offered a job translating for one of the British cartographers stationed in India, tasked with establishing the new borders.

Margaret, the cartographer’s daughter, has only just arrived in India. But already she has discovered it to be hot, loud, and dull. She can’t go anywhere alone for fear of the riots and violence. Eager for a distraction, she finds one in Tariq.

But it’s Anupreet, another member of the staff, who has truly captured Tariq’s eye. She’s strikingly beautiful—but she’s a Sikh, so not someone Tariq should even be caught looking at. And yet he’s compelled to…

Against the backdrop of the nearly forgotten history of the partition of India, Jennifer Bradbury, as if with strands of silk, weaves together the heart-pounding tale of three teenagers on wildly different paths, on the verge of changing each other’s lives forever.


A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman 

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman 

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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. 


Karma: First Edition by Cathy Ostlere

Karma by Cathy Ostlere 

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It is 1984, and fifteen-year-old Maya is on her way to India with her father. She carries with her the ashes of her mother, who recently committed suicide, and arrives in Delhi on the eve of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination. 

Maya is separated from her father and must rely upon the mysterious, kindhearted Sandeep to safely reunite them. As her love for Sandeep begins to blossom, Maya must face the truth about her painful adolescence...if she's ever to imagine her future.


Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth

Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth 

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For eleven-year-old Gopal and his family, life in their rural Indian village is over: We stay, we starve, his baba has warned. So they must flee to the big city of Mumbai in hopes of finding work and a brighter future. Gopal is eager to help support his struggling family until school starts, so when a stranger approaches him with the promise of a factory job, he jumps at the offer.

But Gopal has been deceived. There is no factory but, instead, a small, stuffy sweatshop, where he and five other boys are forced to make beaded frames for no money and little food. The boys are forbidden to talk or even to call one another by their real names. In this atmosphere of distrust and isolation, locked in a rundown building in an unknown part of the city, Gopal despairs of ever seeing his family again.

Then, late one night when Gopal decides to share kahanis, or stories, he realizes that storytelling might be the boys' key to holding on to their sense of self and their hope for any kind of future. If he can make them feel more like brothers than enemies, their lives will be more bearable in the shop—and they might even find a way to escape.


Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth

Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth

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"As in Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet (Hyperion, 2006), Sheth provides a first-person narrative with a strong protagonist and rich sense of place, with the added bonus of an unusual historical perspective," School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Pretty as a peacock, twelve-year-old Leela has been spoiled all her life. She doesn't care for school and barely marks the growing unrest between the British colonists and her own countrymen. Why should she? Her future has been planned since her engagement at two and marriage at nine.

Leela's whole life changes, though, when her husband dies. She's now expected to behave like a proper widow: shaving her head and trading her jewel-toned saris for rough, earth-colored ones. Leela is considered unlucky now, and will have to stay confined to her house for a year—keep corner—in preparation for a life of mourning a boy she barely knew.

When her schoolteacher hears of her fate, she offers Leela lessons at home. For the first time, despite her confinement, Leela opens her eyes to the changing world around her. India is suffering from a severe drought, and farmers are unable to pay taxes to the British. She learns about a new leader of the people, a man named Gandhi, who starts a political movement and practices satyagraha—non-violent protest against the colonists as well as the caste system. The quiet strength of satyagraha may liberate her country. Could she use the same path to liberate herself?


Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman

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A remarkable debut novel set in India that shows one girl's struggle for independence.

During World War II and the last days of British occupation in India, fifteen-year-old Vidya dreams of attending college. But when her forward-thinking father is beaten senseless by the British police, she is forced to live with her grandfather's large traditional family, where the women live apart from the men and are meant to be married off as soon as possible.

Vidya's only refuge becomes her grandfather's upstairs library, which is forbidden to women. There she meets Raman, a young man also living in the house who relishes her intellectual curiosity. But when Vidya's brother decides to fight with the hated British against the Nazis, and when Raman proposes marriage too soon, Vidya must question all she has believed in.

Padma Venkatraman's debut novel poignantly shows a girl struggling to find her place in a mixedup world. Climbing the Stairs is a powerful story about love and loss set against a fascinating historical backdrop. 


Saraswati's Way by Monika Schröder

Saraswati's Way by Monika Schröder 

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If the gods wanted Akash to have an education, he is told, they would give him one. But Akash has spent his entire twelve years poor and hungry. So he decides to take control of his own life and try for a scholarship to the city school where he can pursue his beloved math. But will challenging destiny prove to be more than he has bargained for? In this raw and powerful novel, fate and self-determination come together in unexpected ways, offering an unsentimental look at the realities of India. 


Jahanara: Princess of Princesses (The Royal Diaries) by Kathryn Lasky

Jahanara: Princess of Princesses (The Royal Diaries) by Kathryn Lasky

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In the 1600s, the Mughal emperors of India were among the greatest rulers of the East. Jahanara is the daughter of one of these ultra-rich and powerful figures, Shah Jahan The Magnificent. The oldest and favorite of his children, she is showered with emeralds, diamonds, and rubies, and is attended by numerous servants and learned tutors. Yet, her world is not one of pure contentment. It is rife with intrigue and turmoil as her father fights for his rights to rule - and she struggles against the confinement her Muslim religion dictates. Jahanara's diary allows readers to witness the exotic splendor and unforgettable drama of this past great dynasty.


Small Acts of Amazing Courage (Rosalind of the Raj #1) by Gloria Whelan

Small Acts of Amazing Courage (Rosalind of the Raj #1) by Gloria Whelan

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Rosalind awaits the return of her father from the war. Rosalind is kept from boarding school in England at her mother’s insistence. While her father has been at war, Rosalind sees the country slowly change. A man named Ghandi is coming to power, talking about nonviolence and independence from Britain. Rosalind longs to live the life that her heart tells her, not what her parents prescribe for her, but no one seems to listen.

This penetrating story, told with lush and vivid detail, contrasts Rosalind’s privilege and daily experiences in India with the hardship of the people around her. As she comes of age during this volatile period of history, will she find the courage to claim her own identity and become her own person?


Starcursed by Nandini Bajpai

Starcursed by Nandini Bajpai

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In the ancient city of Ujjayani, the planets align to decide the fate of two starcursed lovers. Born under the curse of Mars, brilliant and beautiful Leelavati, daughter of the famed astronomer Bhaskarya Acharya of Ujjayani, knows she can never wed. But when her childhood playmate, the handsome and rich Rahul Nagarseth, returns from sea, their attraction is rekindled under stormy monsoon skies. As Leela, forced by fate to relinquish Rahul, tries to find solace in teaching at her fathers observatory, a fleeting alignment of the stars is discovered that can help overcome her curse. But Rahul is called away on a war to defend his kingdom. Can he return in time or will she lose him forever to the will of the planets? 

Set in turbulent twelfth century India, against the backdrop of the savage wars waged by Muhammad of Ghor and his band of Turkis, Starcursed is a sweeping tale of science, romance and adventure that will transport its readers to another world.


India Dark by Kirsty Murray

India Dark by Kirsty Murray

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Madras 1910. A troupe of child performers are stranded, having staged a strike against their manager. Their fate now depends on the outcome of a court case, and an alliance with gentlemen of the British Raj. Based on a true story, India Dark recreates shifting friendships and loyalties and the clash of innocence versus experience.

Iran

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The Complete Persepolis (Persepolis #1-4) by Marjane Satrapi cover

The Complete Persepolis (Persepolis #1-4) by Marjane Satrapi

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Persepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom--Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.


Anahita's Woven Riddle by Meghan Nuttall Sayres

Anahita's Woven Riddle by Meghan Nuttall Sayres

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Growing up as part of a Muslim nomadic tribe in Iran, Anahita has always been headstrong and independent. When her parents try to make a marriage match between her and her tribe's khan (a type of inter-tribe leader), Anahita rebels. She will gladly marry, she says, but only to the man who can solve the riddle she weaves into her wedding carpet.


Alphabet of Dreams by Susan Fletcher

Alphabet of Dreams by Susan Fletcher

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Mitra and her little brother, Babak, are beggars in the city of Rhagae, scratching out a living as best as they can with what they can beg for--or steal. But Mitra burns with hope and ambition, for she and Babak are not what they seem. They are of royal blood, but their father's ill-fated plot against the evil tyrant, King Phraates, has resulted in their father's death and their exile. Now disguised as a boy, Mitra has never given up believing they can rejoin what is left of their family and regain their rightful standing in the world.

Then they discover that Babak has a strange gift: If he sleeps with an item belonging to someone, he can know that person's dreams. Mitra believes that they can use this gift to find passage back to the city of Palmyra and their remaining kinsmen. But soon Babak and his abilities come to the attention of a powerful Magus -- one who has read portents in the stars of the coming of a new king and the dawn of a new age. Soon Mitra and Babak find themselves on the road to Bethlehem...

The acclaimed author of Shadow Spinner returns to ancient Persia in this spellbinding saga -- a tale filled with the color of the caravansaries and the heat of the desert, a tale that reimagines the wonder and spirit of a lost age.


Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis

Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis

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Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father, Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s Bring Back the Shah activities, her family could be thrown in jail, or worse.

The day she meets Sadira, Farrin’s life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise, and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. It is against the law to be gay in Iran; the punishment is death. Despite their efforts to keep their love secret, the girls are discovered and arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution. Will her family find a way to save them both?

Based on real-life events, multi-award winning author Deborah Ellis’s new book is a tense and riveting story about a world where homosexuality is considered so abhorrent that it is punishable by death.


Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher

Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher

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In an adventure equal to any a storyteller might relate, a crippled serving girl faces the intrigues of the harem, the dangers of the streets, and the anger of the Sultan himself to find the needed ending to an incomplete story.


Night Letter by Meghan Nuttall Sayres

Night Letter by Meghan Nuttall Sayres 

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Anahita, a nomadic weaver living in nineteenth-century Iran, is kidnapped on the eve of her wedding and thrown into the world of slavery and the mystical Sufi faith. Tinged with the fairy tale quality of her award-winning Anahita's Woven Riddle, Meghan Nuttall Sayres weaves details of Persian culture with poetry to create the story of a damsel in distress determined to save herself.

The book includes a discussion and study guide, Persian interior art, and cover art by award-winning Tehran-based artist Rashin Kheirieh.