Review Blog

Jul 02 2014

The night run by Bali Rai

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A & C Black, 2014. ISBN 9781472904362.
(Age: 11+) Recommended. Historical novel, India, Survival. Bali Rai has distilled the events of April 1919 in Amritsar into a short novel telling of one boy's struggles to release his innocent father from prison. It is 1919, in Northern India where protests have been occurring against the British Raj. Many have been taken away and Arjan is aghast to see his father arrested at his market stall, finding out that he would be sent by train to a place where he and many others would be hanged as rebels.
He wakes during the night and sneaks out of his house to try and get to the prison where his father is being held. It is a terrifying journey. He must avoid the soldiers out to capture anyone evading curfew; he is cornered by a pack of wild dogs; he is taken in by a woman he does not know but who knows him; he is kidnapped by a man who rules part of the back streets, holding children in semi-slavery to do his bidding. Over the night we see many aspects of darker India and all the while, feel the breath of the British Raj breathing down Arjan's neck, while developing sympathy for those trying to overthrow their regime.
The events which occurred a week after this novel is set, shocked the world and heralded the demise of the British Raj.
In this shorter novel students will appreciate many of the forces alive in India at the start of the twentieth century through this exciting and well told story of one boy and his quest. This is one in a new series called Flash Backs, historical novels written specifically for younger readers, or those wanting a quick read. Their website shows the large range of these publications.
Fran Knight

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