Monday, July 18, 2022

MMGM- Thirst

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Bajaj, Varsha. Thirst 
July 19th 2022 by Nancy Paulsen Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Minni lives with her father, who runs a tea stand, her mother, who cleans house for a well-to-do family, and her older brother Sanjay, who at fifteen has graduated from tenth grade and taken a job doing food prep in a restaurant. Their neighborhood is poor, and the dwellings close together. They don't have running water, but have to haul it from a central location every day. When the children are out one night with a relative who has a new car, Sanjay and his friend Amit get out of the car and see men stealing water from tanks brought in to help alleviate the shortages in communities like theirs. Unfortunately, they are seen by Ravi, and there is concern that Ravi will turn the boys over to his boss and get them into trouble. To avoid this water mafia, the boys are sent to the country to help grandparents on a farm. Minni's mother is ill; she has been ill before, and the doctors said it was from not consistently boiling the water. She has blood tests, and it is decided that she needs to go back to her village, where she can stay with relatives and really get some rest. Minni, who goes to school because Anita Ma'am, the woman for whom her mother works, has generously paid her tuition, is going to take over her mother's job, cleaning and making rotis for Anita and her daughter, Pinky. Pinky is very interested in Minni and wants to be friends, but her grandmother is always finding fault with Minni's work, and it's not worth angering her and losing her job. It's hard to pick up the extra work that her mother is not at home to do, work a job, and keep up with school, even with the help of her best friend, Faiza. There are other helpful people in the community, like Shanti, who lost her own child and helps out with children in the neighborhood, and Priya Didi, an American who is teaching a computer class at a community center that Minni is able to attend because her mother entered her into a lottery. Things don't always go smoothly; Minni is late to school, and gets in trouble when the principal finds out her teacher, Ms. Shah, is covering for her, she has trouble doing the work at Anita Ma'am's, and she is worried about her mother and brother. This makes it hard to study for her tests, which she knows are important for her future. When she has a realization as to the identity of one of the water thieves, she knows she needs to act, but also knows she needs to be careful about how she proceeds. Will Minni be able to get through this rough patch and work to reunite her family?
Strengths: I personally adore books dealing with every day life in other countries. Even if I ever get to travel again, that doesn't necessarily provide a good understanding of what it is like to like in a different society. Minni's family is not quite comfortable, but are very close to acchieving this, and it's great that Minni is able to continue to go to school. The computer classes were quite interesting. Seeing Pinky's much more comfortable life was interesting as well, and it's good to less US readers know that life in other countries can be very much like their own lives in the US. The sub plot with the water thieves is presented in a way that readers who have no concept of people struggling to get water will be able to understand. Minni's friendship with Faiza, and the cast of interesting and supportive characters, gives this an even more hopeful feel. I enjoyed this one very much. 
Weaknesses: For some reason, I thought this was going to be a futuristic dystopian novel (maybe because of the cover?), like Hughes' A Crack in the Sky, so it took me a minute to understand what was going on. We are apparently living in a time of all manner of actual dystopian situations; there are far too many places in the world where running water is still a luxury.
What I really think: This is a fantastic book that gives a good look at different levels of society in Mumbai, and is so hopeful. I want to hand this to all of my students who complain about silly things like not being given a phone! Readers who enjoyed LaValley's The Vine Basket, Venkatraman's The Bridge Home, Saeed's Amal Unbound, and Faruqi's A Thousand Questions will enjoy this tale of grit and resilience. 

Thank you to everyone who joined the #MGReadathon. I went over my 48 hours because I was in the zone, and got 41 books read. It was so nice to be able to just write a couple of sentences for each and not a full review! 

Have an awful book hangover now! Have some errands to run, but since I can sew again (six weeks post wrist surgery) I really should do some projects that have been waiting. I find it really hard to change gears!

This probably also explains why I am already in a mild panic about going back to school even though students don't come back until August 11th. 


  1. I also have this in my post this week. Reading a book like this definitely makes one think about the challenges some face in this world and provides perspective as to what issues are really worth complaining about.

  2. Thirst is getting a lot of book love today. I'm looking forward to reading it. My sister and I have an ongoing discussion about the difference between experiencing a country through books vs in person. So I appreciated your comment, "Even if I ever get to travel again, that doesn't necessarily provide a good understanding of what it is like to like in a different society." I guess both is ideal.
    I don't know what the USA is like, but here in Canada, we still have plenty of communities without access to clean water.

  3. This sounds like a great book. I like that it shows everyday life in Mumbai. Always great when we can read a book that tells about another place and gives us more perspective on our own lives too. It is so sad that water (clean, running) is still a luxury in so many places.

  4. Your comment is unfortunately too true "We are apparently living in a time of all manner of actual dystopian situations"

  5. I keep seeing Thirst on the #IMWAYR roundup today, and I'm glad to hear from you as well that it is worth reading! And *wow*—I am so impressed that you managed 41 books in the readathon! Good luck returning to chores and other things after the readathon, and thanks so much for the wonderful post, Karen!

  6. I read every book that deals with the Indian culture. I love to learn the traditions and issues the still are prevalent in the country. India has changed a lot since we adopted our son and his occasional visits keep us up to date with what is happening. But there still is so much poverty. Minni's family has many opportunities. Will check out this story. Can't believe you read 41 books in 48 hours -- a book an hour. You are a speed reader and really love books. Glad you event went well and that your hand is healing!

  7. 'Thirst' sounds really good, and great for students (and adults!) to read about the lives of people in other countries, particularly to learn about some of the things we can take for granted (like running water!). I really like the book's cover - it screams 'Thirst' at me! Congratulations on 41 books read - really impressive! Glad your wrist is recovering & you can do more with it!