Master, Irfan. A Beautiful Lie
September 1st 2012 by Albert Whitman & Company
Bilal's mother passed away when he was small, and his father is dying of cancer in Gujarat, India in 1947. His brother is unreliable, so Bilal is doing the best he can to care for his book loving father while going to school. Things are plolitically very tense on the eve of the partioning of India, and Bilal wants to keep the fracturing of the country from his father during his final days. He has a complicated system where his friends keep watch over the house, and he manages to keep the news from his father. He does get caught up in it, since his brother believes that violence is okay, and Bilal gets caught in the middle of things on several occasions. With the help of the local printer, doctor, and his teacher, Bilal manages to make his way through his father's final journey and escape from violence in his town.
Strengths: This was a really interesting book, well-written and compelling. It is also short and easy enough for middle school students to read. I have two students who came to my school from Gujarat last year, so I'm curious to see what they might think of this one.
Weaknesses/What I really think: I am sad that this is out of print because it is really interesting, but I'm not going to go to a lot of trouble to buy a copy for my library because I don't think it would be read much, anyway. A shame.