NOTE: I was given early access to this manuscript in exchange for writing an impartial review. Thank you NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing. Scheduled Publication: October 4, 2022.
An important clarification. This review references the YOUNG ADULT version of a longer adult novel by the same name, THE ORPHAN KEEPER, that was published in 2016. And I, for one, am glad this story is now accessible to a younger audience. Awarded five stars on Goodreads.
Based on a true story (don’t miss the photos at the end of the book), the novel tells the story of one child in India who is adopted and raised in the United States. Chellamuthu’s transition from Indian poverty to American middle class isn’t what you might expect. Though not a victim of physical abuse or mistreatment, Chellamuthu’s IS a victim of clandestine and economically-driven adoption practices that unfairly uproot a powerless seven-year-old boy, who just happens to be in the wrong place and the wrong time.
It’s a rich and at times suspenseful story about someone who struggles with identity and often feels like an outsider. About his internal struggle between two cultures and about a young person trying to reckon two parts of oneself. There’s a protagonist that is easy for younger readers to identify with and the novel raises some challenging questions to ponder about diversity, race, and identity. Not to mention the issues involved in adopting a child of a different racial or cultural identity.
This is a plot-driven book with plenty of action that follows Chellamuthu from child to adult. It would be an excellent book to assign to a middle school class to read and discuss as a group.
More about the author, Camron Wright.
You may be interested in my review of other books by this author: