I kick and I fly

Ruchira Gupta

Book - 2023

"On the outskirts of the red-light area in Bihar, India, Heera is living on borrowed time until the day her father decides to sell her into the sex trade to repay his loans. It is, as she's been told, the fate of all women in Girls Bazaar to end up there. But what if she can learn to fight back against 'fate'? When a local hostel owner presents her with the opportunity to practice kung fu, Heera begins to learn that her body isn't an object to be preyed upon, but a vesse...l through which she can protect herself. She will face unimaginable barriers -- expulsion from school, the unapologetic forces of nature, and a local trafficker who won't take his sights off her. But fate can change, and heroics are contagious. As Heera starts to piece together the whereabouts of a missing friend through a pen pal in the United States, and a competition takes her to New York, the desire to ensure her friend's survival might just lead her to make the ultimate risk" -- Page 2 of cover.

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Young Adult New Shelf Show me where

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Young Adult New Shelf YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Gupta Ruchira (NEW SHELF) Due Jun 20, 2023
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

As a member of Bihar, India's disparaged Nat caste, 14-year-old Heera is subject to the tyrannical Ravi Lala, who rules Heera's neighborhood through fearmongering and money-lending. If Heera remains in school, however, she can avoid being forced into sex work at Lalten Bazaar, or the Girls Bazaar, to help pay off family debts, like many other girls in her cohort. But when Heera is expelled for defending herself from a bullying classmate, her father prepares to sell Heera to Ravi Lala. That is until Rini Di, a hostel owner and martial artist dedicated to empowering young women, steps in--Rini offers to teach Heera kung fu so she can compete in a tournament for a cash prize, a suggestion to which Heera's parents agree. As Heera betters her fighting skills, she also comes face-to-face with the horrors that girls in her community endure, determining to use her newfound strength to help them. While convenient plotting sometimes requires a suspension of disbelief, debut author Gupta renders Heera's perseverance amid grueling circumstances via straightforward prose and imbues this searing tale with an ominous ambiance that complements its dark themes. Ages 12--up. (Apr.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

Fourteen-year-old Heera knows what fate awaits many girls growing up in Lalten Bazaar, a red-light district in Bihar, India, commonly known as Girls Bazaar. Her neighborhood is controlled by gang leader Ravi Lala, who uses predatory loans and the support of corrupt police officers to keep families impoverished and force girls into prostitution. As a member of the marginalized Nat caste, Heera knows many obstacles await her. Her cousin Mira Di was auctioned off by her father to a traveling dance company. When a fight with a bully leads to Heera's expulsion from school, she knows it will only be a matter of time before her father sells her to Ravi Lala. Fortunately, Heera receives help from Rini Di, a women's rights advocate in charge of a hostel for vulnerable girls, and joins kung fu lessons at the hostel. As Heera's strength and self-confidence grow, so does her desire to help the girls and women in her community break free, especially when Heera finds out that her best friend will soon be sold and smuggled abroad. Heera's narration contains vivid sensory descriptions that, along with the Hindi words scattered throughout, bring the setting to life, quickly immersing readers in her world. The depth of the story's details and its themes of bodily autonomy, community, and women's empowerment reflect Gupta's experience as the founder of Apne Aap, an NGO working to end sex trafficking. A triumphant debut. (author's note, resources) (Fiction. 13-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.