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"