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Book Review-Neela - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A book report by Sneha Durgapal

Neela: Victory Song is a book about a courageous girl and her thoughts, opinions and hopes about bringing her long-gone father home and how she could help India become a free nation. Neela, the girl, realizes that true courage is not being fearless of everything, but the ability to stand up and face her own fears.

The story is set in the 1900s when India was under the British rule. Life wasn’t easy at this time. The British made it difficult for the Indians to perform national dances and sing national songs, such as Vande Mataram. Neela learns to sing Vande Mataram, the song that praises India and her lush, green fields, and her cool breezes on hot days. Neela and her family manage to find a way to continue their traditional style of living.

When her father decides to go to Calcutta and join a march of protesters, Neela realizes the danger her father could get into. Protesters were often beaten, killed, and thrown into prison. She begs her father not to go, but he insists. When Neela’s father is gone for about two weeks, she starts worrying. Her father promised he would return in three or four days. Neela becomes convinced that her father was hurt, or worse, killed. She decides that there is only one way to find out how her father is, and that was by running away!

So, one starry night, Neela disguised as a boy, slips away from her house, and buys a one- way railway ticket to Calcutta. With the help of some loyal friends, she manages to find her father, and reunite her family.

I found this story touching and realistic. Many of the events that take place in this historical story are believable and probably happened to many girls in that period of time. There were a lot of emotions that Neela and her mother had. She was very brave to risk being imprisoned by the British and search for her proud, but injured father. She was rewarded because of her courage and bravery and was able to bring her father back to their homely but just about perfect village, near the city of Calcutta. Ms. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has written a wonderful book and created a determined and courageous character Neela. By fulfilling her dream, Neela shows us that it is never too late to try to accomplish anything.

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