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Boys without Names [Paperback]

Kashmira Sheth
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 Jun 2011

Trapped.

For eleven-year-old Gopal and his family, life in their rural Indian village is over: We stay, we starve, his baba has warned. They flee to the big city of Mumbai in hopes of finding work and a brighter future. Gopal is eager to help support his struggling family, so when a stranger approaches him with the promise of a factory job, he jumps at the offer.

?But there is no factory, just a stuffy sweatshop where he and five other boys are forced to work for no money and little food. The boys are forbidden to talk or even to call one another by their real names. Locked away in a rundown building, Gopal despairs of ever seeing his family again.

But late one night, when Gopal decides to share kahanis, or stories, he realizes that storytelling might be the boys' key to survival. If he can make them feel more like brothers than enemies, their lives will be more bearable in the shop—and they might even find a way to escape.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray; Reprint edition (9 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061857629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061857621
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13.1 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Sheth’s lush prose creates a vivid portrait of slave labor without losing the thread of hope that Gopal clings to. (Publishers Weekly)

“Kashmira Sheth gives a name to the pernicious practice of child bondage in her unforgettable portrait of Gopal, a boy enslaved in a grueling factory job in India. And she shows the power of story telling to inspire acts of kindness and courage in even the darkest of situations.” (Patricia McCormick, author of of National Book Award Finalist SOLD)

Boys Without Names is not a heartbreaking story, even if there are moments that break the heart. Instead, it is a story about growing up, about learning and relearning the meaning of family. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. (Jacqueline Woodson, author of the Newbery Honor book After Tupac and D Foster)

With echoes of the Lost Boys in Nancy Farmer’s The House of the Scorpion and even Slumdog Millionaire, this a tightly woven tale of a boy’s will to survive, the power of story and the bond of friends tied together in the hope of a better day. (BookPage)

About the Author

Kashmira Sheth spoke to many child workers in Mumbai as part of her research for Boys Without Names. Kashmira herself was born in Gujarat, India, and moved to the United States when she was seventeen to attend university. She is the author of Blue Jasmine, an IRA Children's Book Award Winner; Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet; and Keeping Corner, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. The mother of two daughters, Kashmira lives with her husband in Madison, Wisconsin.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boys Without Names Kashmira Sheth 30 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback
This is the best book I have read for a long time.
Well written, educational and informative. For anyone who has an interest in children and India, it is a source of stimulation and a great page turner!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too 14 Jun 2010
By TeensReadToo TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
In BOYS WITHOUT NAMES, author Kashmira Sheth takes readers into the world of child labor and exposes the unbearable conditions and incredible horrors suffered by millions of children around the world.

Economic conditions drive Gopal and his family from their tiny village into life in the city of Mumbai. Their trip from village to city is complicated by lack of money and difficulty with the language. Gopal, his mother, and his twin brother and sister are forced to live for several days on the street when Gopal's father goes in search of the uncle who was supposed to meet them at the train station. Not able to read directions and street signs, Gopal's father is lost, leaving the remaining family to struggle on without him.

When they finally find him, Uncle Jama is able to provide food and shelter for them while he begins the search for Gopal's missing father. Gopal attempts to look for ways to earn money and help out. One day he meets a boy who promises work if Gopal will follow him immediately. Gopal is drugged and taken to a sweatshop, where he and five other boys are forced to make beaded picture frames by a cruel boss Gopal names Scar.

The boys work long hours, are given very little food, and are able to bathe only once a week. Their days and nights are spent breathing toxic glue fumes in a poorly lit, stuffy attic. At first they work quietly, each dreaming of returning to families they miss, but as the weeks and months pass, Gopal begins to tell the group stories to pass the time and soon the others add stories of their own. All the while, Gopal plots his escape. The idea of leaving becomes more complicated as the six boys become like a family. How can all of them manage to gain their freedom from under Scar's watchful eyes and locked doors?
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too 14 Jun 2010
By TeensReadToo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In BOYS WITHOUT NAMES, author Kashmira Sheth takes readers into the world of child labor and exposes the unbearable conditions and incredible horrors suffered by millions of children around the world.

Economic conditions drive Gopal and his family from their tiny village into life in the city of Mumbai. Their trip from village to city is complicated by lack of money and difficulty with the language. Gopal, his mother, and his twin brother and sister are forced to live for several days on the street when Gopal's father goes in search of the uncle who was supposed to meet them at the train station. Not able to read directions and street signs, Gopal's father is lost, leaving the remaining family to struggle on without him.

When they finally find him, Uncle Jama is able to provide food and shelter for them while he begins the search for Gopal's missing father. Gopal attempts to look for ways to earn money and help out. One day he meets a boy who promises work if Gopal will follow him immediately. Gopal is drugged and taken to a sweatshop, where he and five other boys are forced to make beaded picture frames by a cruel boss Gopal names Scar.

The boys work long hours, are given very little food, and are able to bathe only once a week. Their days and nights are spent breathing toxic glue fumes in a poorly lit, stuffy attic. At first they work quietly, each dreaming of returning to families they miss, but as the weeks and months pass, Gopal begins to tell the group stories to pass the time and soon the others add stories of their own. All the while, Gopal plots his escape. The idea of leaving becomes more complicated as the six boys become like a family. How can all of them manage to gain their freedom from under Scar's watchful eyes and locked doors?

BOYS WITHOUT NAMES is a story of survival and the determination not to give up even when facing insurmountable odds. Readers will be inspired by the courage and stamina of the six young boys as they endure terrible living conditions as well as physical and emotional abuse. Little more than slaves, they still remain hopeful that they will someday be reunited with family and friends.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glued to my Seat 14 Aug 2011
By Joan Zabelka - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Spoiler alert: Other reviewers gave good plot information - this is more of a personal experience.

I sat down with a small (relatively speaking) bowl of popcorn - no butter, a 1/2 glass of rootbeer and this book, "Boys without Names." I felt like I was at the movies - the action never let up. At one point, I was scared for the characters, tired from the non-stop narrative, and hungry like the boys, but I could not put the book down. I admit to scrounging for something else to nibble on as the plot thickened. I found some stale jelly beans on my desk (it's the end of August as I write this) and I never left my spot for the rest of the evening.

There was something magical about being wrapped up in the story and I didn't want to break the tension that seemed so fragile yet so gripping. Maybe the magic came in letting myself get caught up in the story. This story is about stories so I felt I owed it something - my time and my loyalty.

We all have our stories to tell. We all have stories to hide. And we have stories skewed by time and emotions. This story, "Boys without Names," reinforces the importance stories have in our lives. Whether they are fairy tales, classics or our own stories - we find common themes, love stories, and hero quests just plopped into different settings with a different supporting casts.

Paying attention to this story was a choice, just as paying attention to our own story is a choice. As a former elementary school librarian, I held stories like this ready for students to check out. Now I am a spiritual companion and I hold clients' "living stories" as they bring them to me. This book reminded me how important telling a story can be and how important it is to have someone listen to it - without interrupting.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books you will ever read!!!! 7 Oct 2011
By Odyssey6 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Stories about happy elves, magical palaces, and pink ponies are getting kind of boring, right? Why not try something different? Boys Without Names by Kashmira Seth, is sad and heart touching because of the tragic and depressing events that the characters must go through. The part that made my heart drop is when the main character, Gopal, must work as a slave in a factory with 4 other boys. Gopal is a determined 11 year old boy who never imagined a life like this. As you read, you will learn the true meaning of friendship and collaboration. This book is something different and truly engaging. Can Gopal free himself and the others? Find out in Boys Without Names.
Arianna age 11
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll be cheering for Gopal! 10 Feb 2010
By Edith A. Campbell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Gopal's family lives in rural India where they are tied to the land. One bad crop, one illness, just one accident will secure those ties and deepen their debt. The ties are so tight, that Gopal's father decides to move the family to Mumbai where they can be helped by relatives and Baba (dad) can find work. The family faces several tenuous situations in their travel to find Gopal's Uncle Jama and in most of these situations, we're able to see the goodness of people in India. Given the terror that is about to strike Gopal, it's important that the author remind us that there are people who choose to do good or to do bad in India as there are everywhere.

Gopal is a very smart young but in his cleverness, he gets snatched up and taken to be a child laborer, spending his days gluing beads to photo frames all day long. Gopal soon realizes that he's had something most of the boys he's working with have not: he's known his family and he is confident in who he is. In his upbringing, many lessons were taught through strorytelling and this helps him develop many critical thinking skills that keep him mentally one step ahead in most situations.

Boys without names is a story with a very authenticl feel to it and it gives us insights into the very real work of child slavery. It is not a painful read, but suspense builds as Sheth skillfully uses Gopal's voice to explore possibilities and plan for the future, something the boys had previously refused to do. Sheth conveys how adults can manipulate and control children and successfully describes the horrendous conditions the children live in. Nonetheless, the story remains hopeful as through Gopal's eyes, we begin to see how things work, how relationships form and how things might change.

The author wrote this book after being approached by HarperCollins and she based many of the characters and situations on experiences she had while traveling in India. This book is quite a change from her previous book, Blue Jasmine but both books are full of the language, rhythms, values, foods and relationships of Indian culture.

themes: identity; India; child slavery; stories/storytelling
5.0 out of 5 stars Boys Without Names 29 April 2014
By Super Dude... 9077 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was very, very exciting. It really kept me reading, with all the suspense constantly building in the book.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that is interested in history and likes suspense.
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